The Marine Reserve - Isole Egadi
The Egadi archipelago in front of the coast of Trapani is the largest Marine Reserve of the Mediterranean (524 square kilometers).
It includes three big islands (Levanzo, Favignana and Marettimo), and two small uninhabited ones (Formica and Maraone). The sea is wonderful and the coastlines are indented. Few inhabitants live in the big islands and the atmosphere is the one of a place where time flows in a different way. Depths are wonderful.
The area includes a rich variety of places that derives from the different elements: the presence of wind, the geological characteristics and the hydrodynamic and morphological conditions.
There are also different forms of life. It is a paradise for those who love the sea. There are very small coves where just a few people can stay and many caves where you can go only by boat. Some caves can be visited only by divers.
There are colors, scents, tastes and sounds very different from those of the cities. One of the first things that here people think when they get up is "Where does the wind blow today from ? How is the sea ?".
Marettimo is the farthest offshore island. When you get there, before you realize that the village is situated in the only flat part of the island, fishermen that are waiting for tourists will ask you to go to visit the island by boat. They take tourists to visit the caves around the island and tell the story and particularities of each one. The sea below changes its color very often and the rock faces falls sheer to the sea.
People could settle only in the area where there is the village. The rest of the area is mountainous. Mountain and the sea are the two souls of the island, the two words from which its name derives: mare (sea) and timo (thymus).
Cala Bianca is one the mot beautiful places of the island. You can visit also the Castle. People talk about their island in a very simple way. They usually ask tourists where they want to go because there are no beaches where you can go on foot. There are many mountains and coves where you can go only by boats. In the village there are just a few bars and restaurants because here you can live in harmony with nature.
Favignana is the largest of the three islands of the Egadi archipelago and is also the one more similar to a city. Nicknamed the butterfly that perched on the sea, Favignana was the queen of the tonnare when the Mattanza enriched the Florio’s. The sea is very limpid and each corner of this island is a landscape to discover: Cala Azzurra, Cala Rossa, Cala Rotunda and all those unnamed creeks.
Tourists just have to choose. White beaches or small coves surrounded by rocks from where kids can plunge and depths perfect for diving.
Levanzo: the green and mountainous Levanzo is the smallest of the Egadi islands but it is known throughout the world for the discovery of the Genoese’s Cave that contains paintings and graffitos of the final phase of the Paleolithic. The guided tours let you to see the figures of people, animals and fish, which date back to 10,000 -15,000 years ago.
How to arrive
You can reach the islands from Trapani www.usticalines.it and www.siremar.it and from Marsala www.usticalines.it
Municipal district of Favignana
Piazza Europa, Favignana
FLORA & FAUNA
Flora – The Mountains – Levanzo and Marettimo, thanks to their mountainous origin and a less human presence, are characterized by a very rich vegetation. In particular since Marettimo separated from Sicily before the other islands, it developed a lot of typical endemisms: some of them are very rare in the rest of Sicily while others are completely nonexistent.
Marettimo therefore is a true botanical garden that was created naturally on a rock that separated from Sicily 600,000 years ago. The flora is so rich that is impossible to list the species recognized (more than 500).
The area around the town is covered by a luxuriant maquis formed mainly by the Erica multiflora, a woody pink plant, the Elichrysum Pendulum, the Rosemary, the Satureja fruticolosa, the higly coloured Euphorbia dendroides, the small evergreen bushes of the Cistus, the Ruta chalepensis with a woody stem and yellow flowers, the Daphne oleifolia, a species you can find only there, and few Ilexes and Aleppo Pines.
The walls sheer to the sea are covered by a very rich vegetation and very rare adaptations: there are Bupleurum bushes, a paleoendemism with small branches, the Lonicera implexa, the Brassica macrocarpa, endemism typical of this coast with yellow flowers. The same applies to Levanzo.
Favignana, instead, is flatter and is the most exploited. It is more barren although there are traces of Garrigue, of maquis, (especially Lentisk, Carob, Euphorbia and Sumach) and of rocky vegetation including the Wild Cabbage, an endemic species that you can find only in the Egadi islands.
The sea – In Levanzo and Marettimo the compact rocks of the not too deep seabed foster the development of a vegetation that loves the light, especially the Cystoseira sp. in the less leaning areas. On the contrary the softer seabed of Favignana is ideal for marine angiosperms like the Posidonia oceanica, a Mediterranean endemism, and the Cymodocea nodosa that can be recognized by its red stem and long leaves. In the shallow water there are seaweeds typical of lit areas like the Peacock's tail, a dark fan-shaped seaweed, and the umbrella-shaped Acetabularia acetabulum.
In the darker areas you can find the Encrusting sponges and many Anthozoan colonies, aquatic animals like polyps, such as the Asteroids calycularis (the madrepore that produces rounded red encrustations), the Parazoanthus axinellae, a coral with yellow octopus, and the Myriapora truncata.
Fauna – Although the archipelago of the Egadi is a Marine Reserve, it is also very important for the fauna of the islands, especially the migratory one. There you can see regularly the Griffon with big wings, the Canovaccio, the Harrier eagle, a bird of pray with fimbriated wings, the Shearwater who loves flying but is also very skilful at swimming and the Cormorant whose tapered body and palmate paws allow him to swim underwater. Sometimes you can see Storks, Cranes, Flamingos and Pelicans.
In the mountains you can find the Peregrin falcon, the Alpine swift, the Barn owl, the Blue rock thrush, the Crested lark and the Bonelli's eagle, an endangered species.
In the sea – A colony of Posidonia oceanica covers the seabed from Favignana to Levanzo. It is a real ecosystem where many species of organism live, feed and reproduce. There you can find different kinds of fishes like the Rainbow wrasse, recognizable by its livery striped with red and dark reddish, the Swallow-tailed seaperch, peculiar for its strong red colour, the Annular seabream and cephalopods such as the Cuttlefish hunted by bigger species like the Scorpion-fish, the Sargo and the Octopus.
Beyond a depth of 30-40 meters the seabed is almost dark and the rock surface is covered by fouling organisms and by the red and yellow Horny coral and the wonderful Red gorgonia. At this depth, between the rock cracks there are Lobsters, Groupers, Groncus and very big Morays.