Known as “the black pearl of the Mediterranean” for its putting black-lava cliffs, the volcanic island of Pantelleria—the biggest of Sicily’s satellite isles, at 32 rectangular miles—has lengthy lured a smattering of in-the-realize travelers looking for a low-key hideaway far from the fanfare of excessive-profile hotspots like Capri and Portofino.
Having bubbled up to the ocean’s surface a few 300,000 years ago, Italy’s southernmost point—positioned 70 miles southwest of Sicily and a trifling 40 miles east of Tunisia—bears the ethnic and archaeological footprints of its many disparate residents over the centuries, which included the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Normans, and maximum drastically the Arabs, who arrived 1,000 years ago. Its storied records—coupled with an awesome, almost otherworldly panorama and arid, windswept weather—informs its rugged and historical charm.
The island’s steadfast gales, which gust from the Channel of Sicily nearly 340 days a yr, have formatively fashioned Pantelleria’s beyond and gift; fittingly, its Arabic name, Bent el Rion, method “daughter of the wind.” These battering breezes, at the side of lingering signs and symptoms of its fiery origins—like a favor, mini-geysers found near the island’s craters that emit boiling jets of steam every now and then—create an atmospheric restlessness that contrasts sharply with Pantelleria’s common silence and awesome loss of tourist sprawl. This fascinating juxtaposition underpins the island’s inimitable atmosphere, which has drawn Italian glitterati (like Giorgio Armani, who has owned a villa right here for greater than forty years) to its sunbaked shores for many years.
An Enchanted World
To experience this pristine Mediterranean paradise in peerless style, hop an hour-long flight from Palermo (or one direct from Milan, Rome, Venice, Bergamo, or Bologna) and head immediately to Sikelia, the island’s first bona fide luxurious lodge. Ten years inside the making earlier than its 2016 debut, the ultrachic oasis is the passion undertaking of Giulia Pazienza Gelmetti, a winemaker who counts expert basketball participant and financier amongst her beyond careers. Created from dammusi—the island’s iconic stone dwellings, designed via the Arabs with shallow-domed roofs to accumulate valuable rainwater—it’s a chic mystery world tucked in the back of a shimmering, 1,500-pound brass door and artfully imbued with Pantelleria’s singular spirit.
Sikelia’s 19 suites, every specific, are painted inside the island’s earthy tones and impeccably integrate fixtures upholstered in lush velvet and linen with edgy concrete, glass, and metallic finishes. Gleaming Gessi furniture and embroidered Frette linens talk to Pazienza Gelmetti’s uncompromising flavor, as do hammered-metallic wardrobes and outsized engraved panels by famed Italian artist Gennaro Avallone.
The motel involves life at dusk, whilst visitors acquire inside the palm-studded courtyard underneath a sky ablaze in streaks of purple and violet for cocktails accompanied by nibbles like Gucci, a selection of Pantescan caper. (Caper plant life blanket the island, their sensitive, lily-white plants bursting forth from fissures within the jet-black volcanic rock. Grown commercially here, they’re appeared by means of foodies as a number of the sector’s best.) On a clear evening, you can climb some stairs to the roof, negroni firmly in hand, and see Tunisia.
Then it’s time for dinner at Sikelia’s delicate eating place, Themà, where executive chef Diego Battaglia expertly melds Arabic and North African flavors with conventional Italian cuisine to delectable impact. Signature dishes encompass elegant seafood crudos, spaghetti with marinated oysters and monkfish foie gras, and codfish with cuttlefish ink and apple washed down with wines from Sikelia’s sister assets, L’Officina di Coste Ghirlanda, Pazienza Gelmetti’s captivating vineyard and one of the island’s most famous draws. You can walk its meticulously terraced vineyards and olive groves and surprise at its towering crimson-peppercorn tree earlier than dining on the candlelit al fresco eating place on specialties like gnocchi with pistachio pesto and fritto Misto.