Yesterday was a beautiful spring day so I decided to take my friend, who is also my guest at Dreaming Garden, for a mini tour to the town of Isola delle Femmine. The town, a characteristic fishing village, bears its name from the small island located just off the coast.
The first stop was the seafront that took us to the closest point between the mainland and the island. The breathtaking panorama enchanted Frances, my friend. Even though the view is not new to me, I am always fascinated by its imposing natural beauty and the mystery that surrounds its origins. The different legends told about the “Island of the Women” (see previous S.G. article “Isola delle Femmine, between myth and reality”) give that touch of romance in sight of the ruins of the ancient tower that still stands.
Continuing along the seaside we reached the port where fishing boats of different sizes were anchored to the dock. The bright colors of the boats, the blue of the water and the mountain background made a unique scenario.
Other boats had been hauled on the port’s platform for the annual spring repair and painting.
On our way we noticed a real-like statue of a fisherman pulling heavy nets from the sea.
The square is named Piazza Pittsburg after the twinning of the town of Isola delle Femmine with Pittsburg, California. A kind and young man explained to us that in the early 1900’s many fishermen from the town emigrated to the United States to find a better living. They settled in California near the Sacramento River and set up a village, Black Diamond, today called Pittsburg. In 1994 the two towns decided to enforce their historic bond through twinning and inaugurated two identical statues: the one in front of us and the other in Pittsburg, Ca.
Across the street from the “piazzetta” an inviting pastry shop the “Bar Valentina” tempted us for a snack. While ordering a “cremino” made with expresso coffee, Rosalia the charming owner of the place, suggested us to taste their delicious pastries. The crisp pastry with ricotta filling and the luscious coffee delight were the perfect touch to our pleasant afternoon.
The stretch of road between Cinisi and Palermo astonishes travelers with beautiful sight of the azure Mediterranean sea. The coast is an alternation of sandy beaches and reefs that offer a spectacular view. Just off the coast you can admire the Isola delle Femmine (women’s island), a small beautiful island that gives its name to the town ashore.
Many legends have been inspired by the name of this small island Isola delle Femmine, inhabited solely by birds and rabbits. The ruins of an ancient tower recalls a fairy tale-scenery where imprisoned princesses await to be freed by brave knights.The first legend recalls that the island was a prison for just women in the past. However, no references have been found to prove this first supposition. Another ancient legend says that thirteen Turkish women accused of immoral behavior, were abandoned on the island by their husbands. After seven years, the husbands regretted having abandoned them and returned to save them.
Etymological studies explain that the word femmine – in dialect fimmini – has nothing to do with women. The word instead derives from the Arab word fim which means mouth or entrance and is referred to the canal between the island and the mainland. The island is uninhabited today. Because of its naturalistic importance, the Sicilian Region with the cooperation of LIPU (Italian Society for the Protection of Birds) institued The Oriented Nature Reserve Isola delle Femmine in 1997. In 2002 the coastline from Capo Gallo (near Mondello) to Isola delle Femmine was declared “Protected Marina Reserve”. The Nature Reserve has favored the preservation of a rich flora that includes 144 species of geo-botanic importance, several of which are in danger of extinction. The birdlife present on the island is particularly important: the Blue rock Thrush, the Mediterranean Herring Gull, the Crested Lark, the Stone-chat, the Buzzard and the Hoopoe all nest here, while migratory birds are regular visitors. The European Wild Rabbit, the field lizard, the Whip Snake and different species of butterflies also find their natural habitat on the small island. The marine flora and fauna are equally important. The variety of marine environments with meadows of Oceanic Posidonia indicate the sea waters are clean and unpolluted. Sandy and rocky seabeds are the ideal habitat for species as Octopi, Nudibranches, Snakelock Anemones, Groupers, Lobsters and Seafans.
The Nature Reserve is open all year round and guided nature walks are organized upon reservation.
For further information or reservations: email@example.com