Isola delle Correnti | Sunny Desert Islet where Sicily Ends.
Isola delle Correnti is something very special and unique in its kind, it is a sunny desert islet
where Sicily ends and once thereyou are in the southernmost point of the Southernmost Italian Region
facing the sandy beach of the municipality of Portopalo di Capo Passero
along a splendid coastal stretch of of the Mediterranean highlighted by that
great and suggestive attraction.
In that concrete geographical point
in the province of Siracusa which is
just 64, 0 kilometres away is where you will directly look at towards south and
you can see from east the huge opening of the wide Canale di Sicilia, the
Canal of Sicily also called by Tunisians Qanat al- Kelibia from the
name of that town which is situated on Cap Bon, that Maghreb promontory
facing the town of Mazara del Vallo and from which at distance you can
also see the beautiful Malta and its splendid archipelago. (If
you are interested I wrote a post about that place of Tunisia)
The fantastic Ionian coast
ends on the famous headland of
Capo Passero the southeastern point of Sicily, the terminal of a
natural paradise which meets the immensity of the Mediterranean, a place full
of colours and lights with a stupendous horizon from that tiny island with a
surface of just 0, 01 square kilometre and at 4, 0 metres of
altitude over the sea level.
Coming from north if you are spending
holidays in proximity of Messina or
Catania (I wrote a post about that city if you are interested) driving
towards south you will be delighted by an enchanting coast flanked by citrons,
picturesque hills with scattered olive groves and unforgettable virgin sandy
beaches lined by a sea boasting stupendous
crystalline waters with a tonality between emerald and a light blue.
In a fascinating journey you will
reach one of the three historic
promontories of the Region which were supposed to have created the name Trinacria which means triangle and refers to the shape of Sicily
with the Tip of Faro near Messina and Cape Boeo in proximity of Marsala, which gave origin to thesymbol adopted by the Sicilian government including in the Regional flag represented by a Medusa head encircled by three bent running legs and three stalks of wheat andcalled
Trinacrium by the Romans, the star with three point.
During a planned itinerary that site could
be a great stage included in a wonderful route visiting something of extremely fabulous about
art and history with the marvellous chance to admire places declared UNESCO
Patrimony Sites in 2002 such as Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa, Scicli, Modica,
Catania, Militello di Val di Catania and Caltagirone, the eight marvels of
the late Sicilian Baroque in Sicily which in their kind represent one of the last cycles of that kind of
art in Europe, all them not far from Isola delle Correnti.
The visit of that islet is
particularly suggested to all people who are planning a Fly & Drive or a
tour around Sicily and they want to see something of extremely suggestive and
greatly fascinating along an enchanting coast and a picturesque interior of
that stupendous Italian region eternally
illuminated by a warm sun and also for that a perfect destination to enjoy 365 days a year.
Furthermore next to all those marvels
you can also enjoy the enchanting Siracusa,
so famed for its superb Hellenic past, a relevant centre founded in 733 B.C by Greek Corinthians and Teneans
settlers well known during its long history to have been a loyal allied of Corinth and Sparta becoming an
influential and powerful city-state in the times of the flourishing Magna Graecia.
That municipality boasts a historic
and monumental patrimony listed by
UNESCO in recent times as a World Heritage site, a settlement which had in
the 5th century B.C the same
size of Athens and it is also the birthplace of the emblematic engineer and mathematician Archimedes.
That islet with all those stupendous
wonders could be a very attractive image to take home with very pleasant
memories of that land for all people who love art and history but also scenic
places and in a day after a full immersion admiring monuments and palaces of
high historic value to enjoy in a pleasant break the beauty of the
Mediterranean admiring something of different, alternative and beautiful in its
kind like that.
That area in proximity of that islet
is also particularly suggested to all the visitors who are sea, sun and water
sports lovers and with also the chance to appreciate a typical, genuine and
delicious cuisine with very comfortable accommodations and kind local people
with a very high sense of hospitality.
That large and sharp promontory bathed
by the Mediterranean and that wide sea hallway facing that tiny island in
ancients times represented a very important cross point of cultures between
Europe and North Africa and it was also in many occasions characterised by
The first Hellenic colonists who
founded relevant centres of Megale Hellas, the Magna Graecia, that famous cradle of a civilisation in the Italic
Peninsula developed by the Acaheans and
different tribes connected to them such as the Dorians, the Aeolians and
the Ionians from the Tarentine Gulf in the region of Apulia, including the
territories of Campania with the foundation of Neapolis the current Naples extending along all the coast of Calabria until Sicily corresponding and that islet was reached,
explored and integrated in the domains of the powerful Siracusa which used that place as a secondary dockfor its ships.
Historically those waters were
protagonists of the epic Punic wars so famous for the endless battles
between the fleets of the Imperial Rome and the most powerful cityof Africa, Carthage which were in that time fighting to have the total
domain of an immense sea with open doors to other lands to conquer expanding
Isola delle Correnti was also in
those centuries perpetual witness of attacks and defences, sailings and
landings and according narrations used as a small natural harbour for some
ships in the time of Publius Cornelius Scipius Africanus, that eminent
figure of the Roman Republic who defeated Hannibal in that epic
battle at Zama just south of Tunis. (In the case you are
interested I wrote a post about that city)
It was since then, during the period
related to the Imperial Rome when it took its current name derived by the Latin
denomination Currentium Insula which translated means the island of the currents and those
former rulers gave it such name because the intense changes of the sea currents
with different intensity just few kilometres offshore from that site sometimes
gentle but becoming insidious just some miles after and creating high waves.
In days of storms and bad weather
they are often very insidious complicating the navigation and much more when
the Sirocco, that Mediterranean wind
that comes from the Sahara with speeds
up to 100 kilometres per hour in the spring and also in the autumn is
protagonist in that geographical point.
The Romans immediately noticed all that
when they started to sail in excellent conditions and in a while less than one
kilometre offshore all changed with the Mediterranean showing another attitude
as upset and sometimes furious and that islet facing all that took such name
Other historic periods linked that
sunny desert islet are linked to the landing in Sicily of the Moors
between the 9th and 10th
centurywith the Aghlabid dynasty of Ifriqiya started in 827 with
Asad Ibn al-Furat, a domination which continued with Fatimid dynasty and
which endured approximately two centuries with the main invasion entering from
Mazara del Vallo but including also that area.
The defeat and end of the Moorish rule took place in the late 11th century
by the Normans led by Grand Count Roger I of Hauteville who became
King of Sicily and also in that
case as in the previous centuries Isola delle Correnti was a relevant
point of reference of that leader for his routes towards the conquest of Malta in 1091.
Since medieval times it was a land of
Tonnare those activities linked to tuna fishing, hard job for many Sicilian
fishermen who since a long time ago until today in long sailing through that
large sea canal facing one side North Africa spent and spend days searching the
best fish to sell on the markets and often landing in proximity of that islet
in the nearest Isola di Capo Passero
and for long time that site with its lighthouse indicated them the navigation.
That place has always been witness of
generation of that people living that very dignified life in constant contact
with a sea which with its pitfalls and risks highlighted their great work
offshore from the mainland and that sunny site was and is as a sort allied and
constant point of reference always present.
The local sandy stretch facing in the
immediate mainland that little island is highlighted by its light brown
tonality lining turquoise waters and characterised by the smell of marine salt
with its unmistakable presence in the air, a typical Mediterranean vegetation
and scattered wild cliffs all around and the first impact with that land is
Its view from the headland of Capo Passero
immediately appears for someone as an
illusion, a kind of mirage,there is
people including who confound it at distance as a peninsula and probably
also for that its image represents a sort of icon or something of simply
It has an irregular shape, from a
perspective along the county road leading to Pozzallo corresponding tothe Strada
Provinciale 67 at distance it seems as an egg and from the cape is the
unique point in which you can see its real conformation with a tip and another one corresponding to a thin string of soil forming
a narrow inlet in its western side while the eastern and southern are pretty
The strength of the Mediterranean and
those famous currents have modelled its aspectand you will notice thepresence of a line of earth linking
in periods of low tides the islet to the coast of Portopalo forming a sort of
Once reached the concrete point
facing the islet you will notice in the air something of highly suggestive
reminiscent those remote times linked to epic eras, you can feel sensations
that in that geographical point happened something of important where Sicily
Its silhouette and the view conceal
around it as a mysterious air because now it is desert and that sort of
mystical atmosphere is highlighted by only the cry of migratory birds landing
there and all around apart that, silence, just the sound of the sea waves impacting
on the cliffs and no human presence.
Someone visiting that place including
felt the aura of the mythological Hellenic Gods in a windy day, suggestive
feelings but one thing is certain the colours and tonalities of the soil in that place are identical or very
similar to those of the Greek Thessaly.
Including the immediate interior of
that Sicilian corner reminds in a sort of comparison those places at the foot the Mount Olympus which was
according historic narrations home of the iconic twelve Olympian Gods.
You are there in the most
Southernmost point of Sicily and Bizerte
and Tunis at that latitude are northern than that islet and that is another
attraction more because you are so close to the mainland of a big European island but further south of a section of
Maghreb, a territory of North Africa.
From that coast you will see the silhouette of the lighthouse which wasonce residence of the guardian
which indicated the maritime routes to the boats, merchant ships and fishing
vessel sailings in the Mediterranean.
That building the old faro is
today in ruins, originally the construction was developed on a rectangular plan
with a small courtyard which was also the passage leading to the access of that
structure and with a strong protective wall.
The Summer is hot but ventilated at
evening and night thanks to the breeze of the Canal of Sicily which
characterises the entire coast of Siracusa, the early autumn is pretty warm
with temperatures which sometimes can reach over 30º degrees while in the late season is more temperate
descending around 20º/21º.degrees.
Generally in winter the temperatures drop around a minimum of 6º-7º degrees
in January but very rarely while in early spring you can often find
temperatures reaching a media average of 25 º, 26º degrees.
Since 1987the Region Sicily included that site in a plan of Nature Reserve for a very
interesting presence of vegetation and in some rare examples
of psammophilus relitte and biocenesis halophile.
The rest consists in small Mediterranean bushes, a few sea lilies and
small plants such as wild capers and ruchetta marina, a sort of a marine
rocket which generally grows in sandy areas.
In addition some scientists decided
to explore that islet because some years ago it started to host some
species of insects very rare in the
European continent and they are still object of study.
Another very interesting feature is
that despite its very small size in that islet there is a presence of varied kinds of clays of different colours such as yellow, brown others with a tendency to
an ochre tonality and further with a sort of gray or also white tonalities and
all that has generated curiosity and interest from part of various geologists
who are analysing that varied presence unique in its kind.
A further attraction which captured
the attention in particular of scuba
divers is the seabed which is
pretty rich of marine fauna with
different species of fish, some kinds of rare algaeand marine flora
and in addition special rocks of different formation. All that in the past was
of great interest for scientific researches and further explorations with a deep study of different kinds of rocky
That site since a long time ago is
also a beloved point by ornithologists due
to different kinds of birds which land there on the route towards the coasts of Tunisia and Libya as a natural stage of migratory transit.
Other species constantly stop there
because they find for a long period the right habitat to live and survive and if
you are a lover about that kind of fauna you can see on that islet a large
variety of gulls, herons,
red herons, albatross and
woodcocks among others.
In its extreme northern tip for all
the photography lovers there is also a splendid viewin late afternoon
at sunset, a scenic paradise of lights, reflections and colours when the sun
rays fall combined with that light brown colour of the coast and in that point
you can also see the old path leading to
Around that desert islet is very
lovely place for snorkeling and swimmingenjoying the magnificent crystalline
waters of that corner of Sicily and other activities pretty loved by some
people are wind surfing and surfing thanks to winds and those waves generated
by those famous currents.
There are some very panoramic points
to admire the conformation of Isola delle Correnti, if you sail approximately a couple of kilometres offshore south and
towards eastof the cape you
will have an excellent perspective of its entire shape showing you a great
image of that scenic site.
On the mainland if you walk for
approximately 300, 0 metres north of the headland along the coast you will
reach a small sharp promontory and from there it is another splendid occasion
to enjoy a great view and that tip in
addition with another one approximately 1, 0 kilometres further north form a
very attractive bay.
Many are the places of historic
interest you can visit in the surroundings. In Portopalo di Capopassero you can
admire the scenic Castello di Tafuri,
erected between 1933 and 1935 by the
Florentine architect Saverio Crotti for the Marquis Bruno di Belmonte and it became in the 50s a property of
Tafuri family from which took its name.
It is a fine Renaissance replica highlighted
by a beautiful facade boasting refined arched windows and superb outlines with
a magnificent high crenellated tower of medieval inspiration and that building
became very famous in recent times because two notorious personalities as Michael Schumacher former F1 racing driver and
the businessman Flavio Briatore
wanted to buy it.
Another attraction is the Isola di Capo Passero, another small
islet with a surface of 0, 37 square kilometres which was once a peninsula. It is just 1300, 0 metres long and with a width
of approximately half kilometre. On it was elevated a small fortess between the late 16th century and ended the 30s of the 17th century during the times of the King Philip III of Spain.
That island has a beautiful sandy beach and some marine caves and a further attraction despite it is an abandoned
building is the Tonnara which was
since medieval times when it was erected in the 13th century the
base headquarter which hosted the tuna fishing operations.
Apart the stunning Siracusa, I
suggest you some visits as Noto which
is a gem of Baroque art with Churches and palaces absolutely beautiful and also
Pachino very famous for its archaeological sites, some ancient grottoes
and a very rich architectonic patrimony.
Avola is a further one boasting a great historic past and
well known for a very important dolmen discovered in that municipality in1961 and that town more than famous for its prestigious
During an enjoyable stay you can
enjoy a delicious cuisine which reflects all the Sicilian and Mediterranean
spirit in its true essence.
You will be delighted there by a superb tuna, fried fish and deliciousseafood and try the delectable Zuppa di Pesce alla Siracusana,a fish soup prepared with mussels,
clams, prawns, mackerel and cuttlefish with an addition of green olives,
capers, slices of bread, tomato, olive oil and chili pepper.
Simply exquisite are the Calamari Fatti Fritti consisting in
fresh squid before fried and then filled by fresh tomato and baked in the oven
or the superb Tonno a ghiotta, fresh
tuna cooked with potatoes, tomatoes, onion, garlic and pepper.
The Pisci Spada gratinato is another gastronomic emblem, baked
swordfish with garlic, lemon, parsley, lemon, black pepper, salt, potatoes and
with a “gratin” of pecorino cheese or in alternative Parmesan on the top.
Two notorious specialities are the
delicious Caponata and a local Couscous inherited by the
Arab-Berbers with a use apart of the semolina and meat, also of pumpkin,
chickpeas and potatoes and do not forget to try the exquisite Arancini.
You can find an ample variety of pasta prepared in different sauces and also
the Pizza Siracusana made with onion, fresh tomato, cheese and potatoes,An endless list of different kinds of
local baked bread products similar to stuffed Calzoni is another
culinary highlight such as Cudduruni,
Mpanate, Vastedda, Pastizzi, Nfiughhiulate filled bycheese, sausages, salami, fish, meat, vegetables and one of them
very typical of that specific area is the
Caiccu containing fish and potatoes.
Notable is also the quality of the
local juicy tomatoes, great in mixed
salads or cut and flavoured by olive oil and salt on a toasted bread and you
are in an area well known for the production of Pomodori Pachini, those little tomatoes simply excellent to to garnish a wide range of starters and appetisers.
Simply outstanding is the quality of local olives, there are different kinds
suchas Zaituna, Biancolilla, Moresca, Nocellara and Tonda Iblea and a
speciality with that product is the delicious Alivi Cunzati in which the olives are flavoured by garlic,
vinegar, pepper, salt, adding celery, carrots in slices red chili and conserved
under olive oil.
Naturally you can taste also other
typical Sicilian products, such as
Granita, Cannoli, Cassatedde and Cassata among many others.
The local wines are superb, Nero d´Avola, Eloro di Pachino and Syrah,
very smooth, palatable, result of robust grapes which enjoy sun and salubrious
breezes, highlighted by a supreme colour and texture, rich of flavour and very
The Airport Fontanarossa Vincenzo
Bellini of Catania is situated at 114, 0 kilometres
north of Portopalo di Capo Passero and in approximately one hour and half
driving you can reach that beautiful area via Siracusa by E18 motorway until the town of Noto.
Once there you have to follow the
indications of the county Road SP 19 in directionPachino. I
wrote below some links of good accommodations in the case you are thinking in a
tailor made itinerary in that geographical area.
If you are planning a trip to Sicily,
I suggest you a visit or why not stay close to that site, a splendid sea, crystalline
waters, a mild climate and a sun shining all year will delight your days in a magnificent
Mediterranean environment to admire and enjoy where special lights always
shimmer next to that sunny desert islet where Sicily ends.
Accommodations in Portopalo di Capopassero