#24 Pantelleria – Departure

What an island, Pantelleria! Planted in the Sicily Channel, closer to Tunisia than to Sicily, imposing, black, green…

Many, too many stories hide on this rock. Starting with Giancarlo and Cristian from Konza Kiffi – Azienda Agricola, two young brothers who after working in catering abroad decided some ten years ago to return to their homeland to be farmers and create real high quality products. It was an honor to harvest tomatoes with you in one of the most beautiful countrysides I’ve ever seen, the one of Piano Ghirlanda.

The countryside, which always meant life and work in Pantelleria and which still survives, I think, especially when compared to other islands. With billions of km of dry walls all in rather good conditions. But, as Giancarlo says, you must want to work hard and get your hands dirty, in order for the story of this Mediterranean countryside to be continued…

Then Donnafugata. Those of Ben Ryé, the best Passito di Pantelleria. That’s right, people who get their hands dirty while being modern and up-to-date. A huge thank you to Ivan Caronna and Antonio Rallo for welcoming me into their lovely estate and tell me about the mythical passito and the mysterious panteschi gardens. The Ben Ryé, ça va sans dire, a masterpiece of wine 

Some artist had to collect all the energy that emanates from the volcanic Pantelleria. I was delighted to see Sebastiano Fischer Ceramic Art. A story of passion for this island and some raku ceramics (and not only) just sublime, born literally from the belly of this island. Thank you, Sebastiano

Finally, a special woman. One of Italy’s first divers, which until last year, before losing almost definitively her eyes, was keeping educating new certified divers despite a clearly important age. Maria Ghelia, from Turin, fell in love with the waters of Pantelleria thirty years ago. She spent her life in building underwater knowledge especially among children, in schools. A magnetic woman with such a character, who had also drawn up a proposal, for once actually based on scientific analyses, for a Marine Protected Area that is still does not exist here.

Maybe more than ever I leave with the desire to come back. The beauty that is here, I’ve rarely seen it anywhere else…

But Lampedusa is waiting, despite the Scirocco blowing against my nose although weak. If I don’t melt on top of Maribelle tomorrow I’ll soon be there, in this other place so important for our good old Mediterranean…


Posted on: 12.Jul.2018   Leave a comment

Island People – Ustica – Margherita Longo

Ustica is “my” island. I’ve lived there a year and a half in the last three years, and after a quick calculation, I spent at least the equivalent of a month underwater.

It’s not an easy or an astounding island. Her affection, in both ways, must be conquered: it is reserved to the patient ones.

I believe Margherita and her partner Vito were patient enough. Here go her words:
“I’m 39, I have got two kids, a degree and a PhD in agriculture. After studying and working in the city I came back to the countryside. We decided to bet on our future on our grandparents’ piece of land, along with my partner Vito Barbera, who is from Trapani and moved to Ustica. Eight years ago, after leaving, he, the academic career, I, the mythic permanent position at the Ministry of Agriculture, we returned to live in Ustica with our children to renew the family farm. Given my half-Sicilian, half-Lombard roots, I can integrate organization and passion in both the company and the family management. I am an active part in the associative life of the island, which tries to join agricultural producers and tourist operators in order to promote agriculture and tourism.”

The name of the farm is Hibiscus (https://www.agriturismohibiscus.com/eng/) and is one of Ustica’s flagships. It produces, with organic methods, some awesome white wines and an incredible “passito” made of zibibbo grapes. Beside the inevitable lentils – Ustica’s Slow Food item – and extra virgin olive oil from Erice.

Margherita, Vito, you will be the first whom I will meet along my voyage, but it will be like coming back home

Posted on: 20.Mar.2018   Leave a comment