This Island Escape Is Italy’s Best-Kept Secret

Known as “the black pearl of the Mediterranean” for its hanging black-lava cliffs, the volcanic island of Pantelleria—the largest of Sicily’s satellite TV for PC isles, at 32 square miles—has long lured a smattering of in-the-recognize vacationers seeking a low-key hideaway far from the fanfare of excessive-profile hotspots like Capri and Portofino.

Having bubbled as much as the sea’s floor a few three hundred,000 years in the past, Italy’s southernmost factor—positioned 70 miles southwest of Sicily and a mere 40 miles east of Tunisia—bears the ethnic and archaeological footprints of its many disparate citizens over the centuries, which covered the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Normans, and maximum significantly the Arabs, who arrived 1,000 years in the past. Its storied history—coupled with an incredible, almost otherworldly panorama and arid, windswept weather—informs its rugged and historic attraction.


The island’s steadfast gales, which gust from the Channel of Sicily for almost 340 days 12 months, have normatively formed Pantelleria’s beyond and present; fittingly, its Arabic name, Bent el Rion, means “daughter of the wind.” These battering breezes, together with lingering signs of its fiery origins—like a favor, mini-geysers discovered close to the island’s craters that emit boiling jets of steam every once in a while—create an atmospheric restlessness that contrasts sharply with Pantelleria’s conventional silence and wonderful lack of traveler sprawl. This interesting juxtaposition underpins the island’s inimitable ambiance, which has drawn Italian glitterati (like Giorgio Armani, who has owned a villa right here for more than forty years) to its sunbaked shorelines for many years.
An Enchanted World

To enjoy this pristine Mediterranean paradise in peerless fashion, hop an hour-length flight from Palermo (or one direct from Milan, Rome, Venice, Bergamo, or Bologna) and head directly to Sikelia, the island’s first bona fide luxury lodge. Ten years in the making before its 2016 debut, the ultrachic oasis is the passion undertaking of Giulia Pazienza Gelmetti, a winemaker who counts professional basketball player and financier amongst her beyond careers. Created from dammusi—the island’s iconic stone dwellings, designed by the Arabs with shallow-domed roofs to gather treasured rainwater—it’s a sublime mystery global tucked behind a shimmering, 1,500-pound brass door and artfully imbued with Pantelleria’s singular spirit.

Sikelia’s 19 suites, each precise, are painted inside the island’s earthy tones and impeccably integrate fixtures upholstered in lush velvet and linen with edgy concrete, glass, and steel finishes. Gleaming Gessi furniture and embroidered Frette, linens talk to Pazienza Gelmetti’s uncompromising flavor, as do hammered-steel wardrobes and oversized engraved panels, all with the aid of famend Italian artist Gennaro Avallone.

The motel comes to life at dusk, while guests collect in the palm-studded courtyard below a sky ablaze in streaks of crimson and violet for cocktails accompanied via nibbles like Gucci, a spread of Pantescan caper. (Caper flora blanket the island, their sensitive, lily-white flora bursting from fissures inside the jet-black volcanic rock. Grown commercially here, they appeared using foodies as some of the sector’s greatest.) On a clear night, you can climb a few stairs to the roof, negroni firmly in hand, and spot Tunisia.

Then it’s time for supper at Sikelia’s subtle restaurant, Themà, where executive chef Diego Battaglia expertly melds Arabic and North African flavors with conventional Italian cuisine to delectable impact. Signature dishes consist of elegant seafood crudos, spaghetti with marinated oysters and monkfish foie gras, and codfish with cuttlefish ink and apple, washed down with wines Sikelia’s sister belongings, L’Officina di Coste Ghirlanda, Pazienza Gelmetti’s captivating vineyard and one of the island’s maximum famous attracts. You can walk its meticulously terraced vineyards and olive groves and wonder at its towering pink-peppercorn tree before eating at the candlelit al fresco eating place specialties like gnocchi with pistachio pesto and Frito Misto.

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