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Ustica - SicilyThe etymology of the word is not yet clear. It is likely to derive from the Greek word Osteodes, that is island of bones, or ossuary. According to legend, ancient reaching the island coasts died before landing, crashing against the rocks where mermaids’ songs attracted them. For a strange twist of fate, Ustica was used as a place of banishment for political prisoners and common criminals until the sixties.

The island is the emerging part of a volcano, and it has been named “the Burnt” for long time. It is the result of a large number of geological evolutions whose visible traces are its black lava coasts and a volcanic ridge with three major peaks, Mount Guardia dei Turchi, Mount Costa del Fallo, and Falconiera Promontory. The breathtaking marine grottos were generated after an intense marine volcanic activity, and represent a unique setting in the Mediterranean Basin. The most renowned are Grotta Azzurra and Grotta del Gambero, marked by blue crystal water. They are easily accessible to anyone. There’s no need to be an expert diver: just provide yourself with a nozzle and a mask. You can explore the wonderful and rich sea beds on board of aquarium boats. Ustica has always had a particular appeal thanks to its magnificent sea beds, its amazing marine life, its grottos, the colony of rare bids it hosts and its clean air, scented with rosemary and wild fennel. It houses a Natural Reserve, specially created to protect this particular ecosystem and stretching for over 200 ha, where more than five hundreds species of endemic plants and over two hundreds birds find their ideal habitat.

Ustica is also a well-known Natural Marine Reserve which attracts naturalists from all over the world, eager to observe some of the most amazing marine species in the world. To tour the island you can rent a car, a bike, a scooter or simply walk or use public transport.

The most populated area in the island is the village near the harbour, with its typical murals and brightly painted walls and its quiet rhythmic existence. There you may find excellent restaurants and bars. The specialties are coffee or lemon granite and the delicious cassate stuffed with sweet ricotta cheese. You cannot leave the island before buying the local lentils, which are tiny and very tasty.

Diver photographing the reef in Ustica

Capers harvesting in Ustica

Lighthouse reflection in a sea puddle in Ustica

Ustica sunset

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