Tales from Favignana, Sicily – Part 1
“When I am an old man and live by the sea, will all your thoughts fly to me? When I’m far away from the places we’ve known, will all your love bring me home?”
That was the chorus of the song “Fly to me” by my favorite British band – Keane (Fly to me – Keane). That haunting, beautifully written song I was listening upon my arrival by ferry to Favignana was just perfect to describe my feelings throughout my journey in this wonderful island.
When I retire, I want to live by the sea. Oh Yes!!! I have not decided where yet: either by the Caribbean Sea – in the Honduran Bay Islands, or somewhere in the Mediterranean coast – in Southern Italy.
Located in the Mediterranean Sea off the Northwest cost of Sicily – about 10 miles from Trapani, Favignana is the largest of the Egadi Islands. The other islands are Levanzo and Marittimo.
Favignana is famous for its intriguing limestone coves and volcanic rocks, crystal clear and turquoise blue water, stripped down lifestyle, unique gastronomy, and warm people.
Despite its small area of 19,8 km², Favignana has different topographic characteristics with its eastern part being flatter than the western part, which features Mount St. Catherine.
Favignana is famous for its beautiful beaches and coves located throughout the island. The best way to get to these beautiful spots is by renting bikes or motorcycles – which we did.
This is Cala del Bue Marino – a marvelous cove in the southeastern part of the island.
Notice the stunning contrast of the limestone rocks with the turquoise water.
Another view of Cala del Bue Marino.
After visiting Cala del Bue Marino, we headed to the small town in the center of the island.
The center of Favignana features old, colourful buildings, surrounded by narrow streets full of shops, bars, and cozy restaurants.
This is the main square – Piazza Madrice.
Walking down the streets, we noticed the Camarillo Brillo, a cool spot to get a drink before dinner.
An outside view of Camarillo Brillo.
Notice the neat interior furnishings and decorations of the bar.
I totally loved the big tree branch hanging from the ceiling and the woodwork finish of the tables.
The aperitivo (happy hour) – which cost only 6.00 euros – included a drink and all you can eat buffet.
We ordered the house specialty – Favignana Spritz: Crème de Cassis, cranberry juice, and Prosecco. My apologies for the blurry photo – it was actually my third Favignana Spritz!!
Fortunately – to balance out all the drinking – the buffet offered a selection of local specialties.
From the lower left and clockwise: ricotta and black olive dip; tuna, cheese, and capers dip; and spicy Favignana pesto (a dip made of fresh or sun dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, almonds or pine nuts, olive oil, and hot peppers).
” Pasta Fredda” or Cold Pasta is a typical summer dish in Italy. It is usually made of room temperature pasta, fresh mozzzarella, tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and basil.
The flow of inmigration from North Africa, clearly influenced Italian gastronomy, specially in this area of Sicily where couscous is common to Favignana islanders, such as the tasty vegetable couscous in this picture.
After practically having dinner at Camarillo Brillo, we couldn’t miss eating gelato and granita!! We stopped at Ciuri Ciuri (I still have difficulties pronouncing this name!), a gelato parlour located in a narrow street full of shops.
Look at all the different gelato flavors.
Although Granita is originally from Sicily, it is available in all Italian regions. Granita – a dessert made from crushed ice, sugar, and flavored with fruit, nuts, herbs, or cofee – has a different taste and texture in Sicily. It even varies from one Sicilian town to another. For example, I noticed that granita in Catania – a city in the east coast of Sicily – has a smother texture, whereas in west coast Favignana it is chunkier.
Here is the delicious almond granita I had for dessert.
Wherever you are in Sicily, granita it is also eaten at breakfast, together with brioche, a fluffy and light type of bread made with high content egg and butter.
Since Sicilian culinary culture has a strong French influence due to the Norman domination, french cooks of the Norman Sicilian kings’ court must have probably introduced brioche bread to Sicilians.
After a long day of getting around the island, we were very exhausted but looking forward to next day in Favignana…