Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Isola delle Correnti | In a Sunny Point where Sicily Ends.

Isola delle Correnti is something very special,you are in a sunny point where Sicily ends,you are there in the southernmost limit of the island and facing the beach of the municipality of Portopalo di Capo Passero along the splendid coastline of Siracusa,there is that tiny islet,you look at south and you see that channel of the Mediterranean called Canale di Sicilia,the Tunisian call it Channel of Kelibia,that town which is situated on Cap Bon,that promontory which is situated at 145,0 kms of distance from the Italian island where starts the Maghreb and south of the islet the beautiful Malta and its splendid archipelago.

Land of "Tonnare"the tuna fishing,hard job for the many Sicilian fishermen who since long time until today sail through that channel facing from one side Tunisia,spending days searching the best fish to sell on the markets,living a very dignified life in constant contact with the sea,its pitfalls and risks,admirable people who  stay offshore long time. 

In ancient time that coastline was an important cross point of cultures between Europe and North Africa,,historically those waters were protagonists of the Punic wars,the famous disputes between the fleets of the Imperial  Rome and the most powerful city Carthage in that time two powers who fought to have the domain of an immense sea with open doors to other lands and the Isola delle Correnti was there looking at as perpetual witness of those naval battles,attacks and defences,sailing and landing.

The history continued with the Moorish that as in Spain in Andalusia crossed the Mediterranean landing in Sicily where they stayed for over two centuries before to be defeated by those who became for a period the new rulers the Normans,with the King Roger of Sicily who from those coasts prepared his incursions landing in Tunisia to conquer new domains later,a coast which for centuries was also the link between Sicily and Malta for intercultural interchanges since ancient Greek times.

Just 65,0 km from the wonderful and historic Siracusa,one of the most important and shining gems of the Greek colonisation in Sicily,Isola delle Correnti is a place where the sun shines all year,you can see along that brown beach of Capo Passero the turquoise waters unique for their colour,the smell of marine salt everywhere,the view of the cape,a Mediterranean vegetation.

A place of very mild springs,hot summers,warm autumns,winter is never cold and at the horizon that  small uninhabited small island,once residence of the guardian of the ancient lighthouse which drove the boats,merchant ships and fishing vessels along the coast of the Southern of Ionian are there in the most Southern point of Sicily where Bizerte and Tunisi at that latitude Tunisi are northern than that islet.

The old faro the lighthouse is today in ruins,originally the construction was developed on a rectangular plan with a small square in front of of the house of the guardian and with a strong protective wall and in the middle the lighthouse. 

Isola delle Correnti has that name since the ancient Roman Empire times,when it was called in Latin language Currentium Insula,(Island of the currents) the name was for the change of the marine currents, currents,which  can change in a few of kilometers off of the coast,sometimes gently,sometimes in day of storms and bad weather, insidious,all depend from the winds,when come the Scirocco,the waves are very high,sometimes you can sail very well in excellent conditions and only some kilometres offshore all changes and the sea shows another attitude,upset and insidious and that islet facing all that.

Isola delle Correnti is like an irregular shape,from a perspective along the along from west of the county road leading to Pozzallo the Strada Provinciale 67 at distance it seems as an eggs,while from the cape from Portopalo is the unique point where you can see its real shape which has a sort of headland on its northern side while the southern is pretty rounded.If you sail approximately a couple of kilometres south toward east of the cape you will have an excellent perspective of the entire islet.

Isola delle Correnti has very low shores and it  is only 4,0 m of altitude on the level of the sea,the strong power of the Mediterranean  often modelled its shape,there is a a string of earth linking in periods of low tides the islet to the Ionic coast of Portopalo,forming a sort of tombolo.

In winter temperatures can drop around the minimum of 6-7 degrees in January (very rarely), in early  spring there are already temperatures that around the 25 º, 26º degrees the summers and the first autumn are very warm with temperatures with an average media over the 35º degrees,summer period anyway the evening and the nights are ventilated, with the Mediterranean breeze of the strait of Sicily which embraces the coasts of Siracusa.

On this small island, which has a surface around the 10.000 square metres today there are only the old lighthouse totally in ruin,the most relevant aspect is that  since the year 1987 the Region Sicily included the Isola delle Correnti in a plan of Nature Reserve for a very interesting presence of coastal vegetation with some rare example of psammophilus relict and biocenesis halophilic.

For the rest on the islet you can find small Mediterranean bushes,a few sea lilies and small plants of wild capers,plants of ruchetta marina (a marine rocket),a kind of rucola grown in sandy areas similar to a small rocket,some scientists decided to explore the islet which some years ago started to host some species of insects very rare in the European continent.

Another interesting aspect of the islet despite its very small size is the presence of different kind of clays of different colours such as yellow,another one with a tendency to the ochre colour and white too.

What more attracts the attention are the seabed which is rich in some marine species of great interest for scientific research  and for the exploration and diving lovers.Around that islet is very lovely to swim and to enjoy the magnificent crystalline waters of that corner of Sicily and another activity pretty loved by people
coming is undoubtedly the surf thanks the excellent waves generated by those famous currents.

That islet is also a point of stop of different species of migratory birds,gulls,some species of herons,red herons,albatros,maritime woodcock, of various which stop on the islet eating those small plants that the Mediterranean small vegetation offers them before to reach the coasts of North Africa so it is also a place very interesting for the lovers of that fauna migratory phenomena.

From the extreme northern tip of the islet for the photography lovers,there is also has a splendid view of the , in the late afternoon at sunset,it is a small paradise of lights and colours.

If you walk for approximately 300 metres north of the cape along the coast you will a small sharp promontory from there you will have a splendid view of the cape and the island,that tip form with another headland about 1,0 km further north an ample bay where the coast has a long pleasant straight.

The Airport Fontanarossa Vincenzo Bellini of Catania is situated at 114,0 km north of Portopalo di Capo Passero in about one hour and half driving you can reach that beautiful area via Siracusa along the motorway E18 until the town of Noto.Once you are there you to take a county road the Strada Provinciale SP 35 and from there follow the indication county Road SP 19 in direction Pachino.

If you are planning a trip to Sicily, i suggest a visit to that area of that beautiful Siracusa coastline,a splendid sea,crystalline and clean waters and a beautiful view of the small Isola delle Correnti a magnificent place to enjoy and admire where always the sea shimmers in the Most Southern Point of Sicily.

Francesco Mari

Recommended Accommodations in Portopalodi Capopassero

Hotel Ristorante Jonic
Hotel La Rosa dei Venti 
Albergo Perseo