African seashores and grandmother's arancini

Where: Lampedusa


2stars The women of this island are on the front line for culture and civilization

To their merit, despite the increasing difficulties, Elena, Concetta, Cinzia, and other women, have continued to make the most of their land for tourists.

As you listen to the women of Lampedusa recount family stories and legends from the past, you can almost imagine watching the fishermen row their boats to Tunisia to cook with friends, or the grandmother welcoming the first tourists while the grandfather brings the best fish, the island abandoned due to the plague, the one and only priest for all the religions, the vegetable patch vital for food, the first bar with exclusive recipes for pastas and 'arancini' which have delighted the tastebuds of entire generations.

Stories of the island, of the people, so different here with exceptional responsabilities that have buffeted against the norm. In fact, amongst the narratives, there are also those about the arrivals of the first boats, years ago. When it was the women of the island who took in and clothed the exhausted young migrants and their mothers.

"I am happy to contribute to the project which strengthens our women in the world of tourism," says Giusi Nicolini, the mayor that the world recognizes as the feisty frontline woman dealing with this plight. " There are plenty of women in Lampedusa, who could form an important group creating an itinerary with their knowledge of the island."

And in fact, just by talking to Elena, destinations emerge, and also names of other determined ladies.

Elena Prazzi is a nature guide who accompanies people to the six "Valloni", on the plains and the trails along the coast of the Nature Reserve and she also co-ordinates for Legambiente. With her, one discovers rocks where Caralluma, a north African plant with star shaped flowers grow. You are taken to the beaches where turtles lay their eggs. In Spring and Autumn you can photograph swans,
herons and ducks. You can visit the Dammuso, a historical Casa Teresa.

Along the border of the Reserve on the Island Dei Conigli is La Roccia campsite, an oasis rich with initiatives. It is managed by Andrea Green, a german lady who arrived here 36 years ago for love, with the idea of attracting foreign tourists and with a stubborn will to spread wellbeing and respect for the environment. In fact, with help from professionals and friends, they are able to recycle, to make compost, to save water. Andrea runs courses of Qigong and yoga. Silvia organizes the TerraOnlus Camp, for cultivating vegetable gardens, natural agriculture, urban horticulture, stone walls and alimentation. Another friend accompanies a group of walkers along the trails of the Reserve. In the kitchen, Giovanna is the new and very talented cook from Lampedusa.

From the Protected Zone to the trails in the barren center of the island, not many are aware of the antique remains from at least 4000 years ago, the megaliths, the submerged tombs, the mysterious paleolithic constructions, perhaps temples, perhaps towers. Under the full moon, this is the destination suggested by Cinzia Sferlazzo, who creates silver and calcite (a local stone) jewellery in her lab in Contrada Grecale, cultivates medicinal herbs and makes calendula cream. In the evenings, she has a table at the market in Via Roma, amongst other artisans where the crowds bustle around.

But Concetta Battista is the real expert of all the traditions, the one who is symbolic to all her know her, the one who still welcomes friends, who people go to just to say good morning, with her special ricotta cheese and tarts. Even though she has now left her children to manage the land and the animals of her agricultural business, she is still the anchor. Tourists who go to the " Dammusi dell'imbriacola" learn about agriculture, learn how to prepare capers in brine, buy jams, play with the donkeys and sheep, book fishing boat trips, swim in the coves and enjoy lunch on the boats.

Another important point of reference is Rosangela Mannino, more an artist than an artisan, creating elegant and valuable vases, lamps, mirrors, ceramic and sandstone plates. Before following her passion, Rosangela grew up in her parents' hotel, an elegant old country house tastefully restored. Her shop, 'Sirio', maintains that same elegance and is named after the hotel. The stylish boutique is decorated with traditional ceramics and furniture. Her nieces and nephews and a sister-in-law all work in the hotel kitchen, maintaining the tradition with success.

In the town centre, one can wander amongst shops and restaurants. In her shop, Pina crochets skullcaps and costumes. In the Piazza C. Brignone, Selvaggia sells ceramics beautifully decorated with themes of the sea and flowers. From the craftsmanship of Lampedusa, ceramics and fish come to shine amongst the numerous original objects loved by tourists. The brand new Archaeological Museum of Pelagie is not to be missed. It has just opened and is filled with works from all around the world, a first step for the " Museum Della Fiducia and del Dialogo per il Mediterraneo."

Naturally, as they say, they have become a community united by human bonding through tourism.

Like Carmen Pavis, who left the family business to open a restaurant. For her, typical dishes are important, for example sweet fig biscuits, fresh fish : at the Risacca, we counted more then 46 variations on the theme alone.

Or, like Santina who together with her sister Luisa and the family, inherited the recipes from their grandmother of the Gallo d'Oro restaurant: cous cous with fish, pasta with mullet, fennel with bread crumbs are just some of their most renowned dishes. Santina's husband does the fishing, in summer they work together with their friends, Pina arrives from her vegetable patch with rucola, pumpkin flowers, herbs and spices and Anna brings the ricotta cheese and primo sale ( fresh sheep cheese )

Instead, Giovanna Billeci, has modified her grandmother's recipes: at the Cavalluccio Marino restaurant, the fish soup is served in a pastry crust, the couscous is made with traditional wheat, raw fish creates a fantastic sushi with fruit, bread baked with ancient wheat comes from the oven of madame Francesca. She oversees all the collaborators, the kitchen, the refined hotel rooms upstairs just like her mother did, the kitchen manager while the men fished.

Not far from the town centre, you have to stop by at Famularo, one of the most well known fish shops in Italy. It is managed by Lucrezia Famularo with 10 ladies, after two generations of fishermen and businessmen who created and nurtured the business. And from here, dozens of fish dishes ( tuna, mackerel, sea urchin, sword fish, anchovies, sardines, smoked fish, fish pate, ready made sauces ) are ordered .

In the east, by the blue bay, at the Cala Pisana Bed & Breakfast, the atmosphere is one of a kind: breakfast is taken under the pergola, you can relax with a book and a glass of wine by the sea at sunset, go by boat to the small coves, go scuba diving. It is the realm of one of the most active women of the island from a civil and social point of view, who has become a passionate hotelier.


Camping La Roccia
Contrada Madonna
0922 970055 339 3362809

Contrada Imbriacola 56
338 7739034
0922 973612

Artigianato Sirio
Hotel Sirio
Tel. 0922.970401

Lampedusa Artigianato

Cinzia Sferlazzo prodotti naturali

Laboratorio lavorazione pesce Famularo
0922 970457

La Risacca

Trattoria Gallo D'Oro
0922 970249

Cavalluccio Marino
0922 970053

B+B Cala Pisana

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