#74 / Favignana, the tuff island
My memories are in colour. When I sit down at my keyboard and think of the places I’ve visited, I have visions of pink rocks, black beaches, fiery horizons, a thousand shades of blue – and on the horizon, the sea merging almost imperceptibly with the sky...
For this fourth stage in our tour of the Italian islands, I’m taking you to Favignana. We’re in Sicily, in the Aegadian archipelago. I was there around 15 years ago – this time the memories aren’t quite so prehistoric... ;)
I remember an island of white stone, an island of quarries carved out of tuff, spaces snatched from the windswept surface, treasure troves below ground but open to the air, home to lush gardens sheltered from everything – expect the rain, which is so precious at these latitudes.
Our hotel was also housed in an old tuff quarry: a structure that develops downwards rather than upwards. But it’s open to the elements.
In fact, the light is blinding here: the calcarenite – everyone calls it tuff, but I like to be precise – is whitish, a sort of compacted sand in three-dimensional shapes. The sun reflects tirelessly off it, from the moment it rises to when it sets. In the summer, that means 15 hours spent shielding your eyes – at least, that’s how it was for me. Basically, it’s a good excuse to show off your nicest sunglasses!
I remember a walk accompanied by the colours and scents of flowers and fruit trees. They were the almond, carob, lemon and orange trees of the Giardini Ipogei, which are also carved out of a disused quarry: lush splashes of green liberated from the burning heat up there, where breaks in the walls bring you back to street level.
I remember the strange feeling of being underground but having absolutely no sense of it: the underground spaces – the gardens, the hotels, the houses – are square masses of porous, soft, languid stone that envelop you like an embrace.
As I write this, I think of the efforts of those who worked there, among the tuff: there was nothing languid about them as they hacked away with primitive tools, just the strength of their arms and immense toil.
Age-old works that are unimaginable today. Thankfully!
Lots of love, ciao! ❤️