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Hotel Il Portico, Favignana





Marettimo


About Marettimo

Marettimo looks like a rather bumpy whale surfacing from the Mediterranean; the island is basically a rocky ridge sticking out of the sea. Marettimo is the most remote of the three Egadi Islands off Sicily's western coast, reached by ferries from Trapani. The island lies within a marine nature reserve, and is a popular destination for walkers, divers, swimmers and those wanting a tranquil holiday close to nature and the basics of island living

There is only one settlement on Marettimo, which goes by the same name as the island. It's a fishermen's village of pale-coloured, square buildings, simple and humble-looking. Arriving here, you would find it hard to guess what Mediterranean country the island belonged to. Close up, the Italian character is more evident, with smart tiled stairways leading up inside homes, and little Catholic shrines on street-corners.

Ferries arriving in Marettimo moor at a long jetty close to fishing and diving school boats; a picturesque spot, but there is another port just around the corner; the town's fishermen's harbour. When you first alight from the ferry and step inland, the narrow streets of Marettimo have a briefly cosmopolitan air, but once you start walking you discover that the buildings soon come to an end, and the 'town' is actually just village-sized. There is practically no traffic, so the atmosphere on the island is calm and timeless. A tiny ape truck sells fruit and vegetables, fishermen sit in the lanes mending their nets, and elderly residents sit on benches to watch the ferries arriving and departing.

One of Marettimo's most striking sights is visible to the north-west of the town. Punta Troia is a rocky headland with a dramatically-situated fortress, the site of a Saracen watchtower and then a seventeenth-century Spanish fortress and prison.

Things to do

You can spend an hour or two on Marettimo simply wandering through the village, stopping for refreshments, and walking far enough out of the houses to get a great view back of the harbour and settlement.

Marettimo is a very popular destination for diving holidays. There are several diving centres on the island which organise diving courses and excursions. The marine nature reserve, rocky shores, rich marine life and beautifully clear waters around Marettimo are ideal for diving, swimming and snorkelling. There are rocky coves around the island's shore where visitors can sunbathe and swim, though many choose to hire boats or go on organised boat trips around the island with breaks for swimming. Taking a boat trip will give you a good view of the island's coastline, as well as the various grottoes along the shore.

Marettimo isn't just renowned for its marine wildlife; the island also boasts a pretty, unspoilt natural interior, crossed by footpaths. Walkers on Marettimo can enjoy superb views, rare plants and flowers and sightings of birds of prey as well as the island's donkeys. Walking is a well-catered-for activity here, with signposts showing distances and timings of walks as well as directions. One of the most straightforward hikes from the town is uphill to the Case Romane, a clump of Roman ruins on a small plateau above the harbour. On the same spot is a small twelfth-century church. This route follows a nicely paved path which goes up from the village, and takes about an hour and a half there and back. Other walks include coastal routes in both directions from the port, to the fortress at Punta Troia and the island's lighthouse at Punta Libeccio. Less energetic walking can be enjoyed on gentle paths leading along the seashore from the town.

Marettimo is a good destination for a day trip from the other Egadi Islands or Trapani. You could explore the little town and its views, have a meal and enjoy a couple of hours walking along footpaths. For a longer stay, Marettimo is ideal for visitors who want to embrace the tranquil simplicity of the island, with the sea and the hills as the main attractions. To avoid crowds, though, try to visit outside the month of August.

Shops and services

Marettimo is reasonably well served for restaurants, cafes and shops, considering its small size. Those catering for holidaymakers though, are likely to close once the summer season is over. Since those who choose to stay here are embracing simple island living, however, a limited choice shouldn't be too much of a problem. There are one or two nice cafe-bars for passing the time of day, including La Scaletta, which has tables overlooking the port where you can sit and watch the ferry arrive and depart. Piazza Umberto, where you'll find the Siremar ferry ticket office, is another place to sit, at the inviting tables of the Baia del Sole bar.

Travel to Marettimo

Marettimo is the most westerly of the Egadi Islands, and the furthest from Sicily. This means fewer ferries and longer, more expensive journeys than the other islands, but does preserve it from the majority of summer trippers. Trapani in 'mainland' Sicily is the only port with direct ferries to Marettimo, though from other departure points (such as Marsala, Ustica and Naples) you can change ferries on Favignana or Levanzo. Marettimo is around 40 minutes by hydrofoil from Favignana, and an hour from Trapani. Ferry times can be checked in advance on the websites of Siremar and Ustica Lines (see links panel). On the island, hydrofoils stop at a long jetty leading into the heart of the island's one town. You can buy Siremar ferry tickets at a small office in Piazza Umberto, a couple of streets inland; the office opens up shortly before a ferry is due. Ustica Lines tickets are sold at Corso Umberto 1.

Accommodation

Marettimo isn't a lively resort; there are no traditional hotels and the town is a quiet and reserved place. Tourist accommodation here is mostly in rented rooms and holiday apartments, or semi-independent residences. Because of the location, it can be quite expensive to stay on Marettimo. Marettimo Residence offers 'green holidays' and is in a good position on the edge of the village, with an outdoor swimming pool. The Residence can organise diving courses and excursions for guests. If you are booking a serious diving holiday with one of the island's diving centres (see links panel), you'll find that they can generally arrange simple accommodation for you.

> More accommodation on the Egadi Islands



On this site

Sicily


Useful external links

Egadi Islands hotels

Marettimo Diving Center

Voglia di Mare diving center

Marettimo boat tours

Ustica Lines

Siremar


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