Visiting an island in summer, is an holiday. Visiting an island in winter, is an experience. This is what happened when I firstly fell for the suggestive magic behind the island of Favignana, the biggest one among the Aegadian Islands. Favignana is an island of an island, the place where Italy comes to an end, where the weather feels more African than Mediterranean. To some extents it’s safe to say that the island comes alive only four months a year. However, the beauty of Favignana is kept for the winter time, when the real life dynamics come into play, where the island assumes a radically different aspect, far from the touristy proliferation of people from June to September.
The main concern would be the temperature. However, it’s surprising how this small piece of land in the middle of the sea, is capable of maintaining a pleasantly warm and mild air during the coldest months, which makes it even more enjoyable than the melting sun of July. This is Favignana’s gift to those who decide to pay her a visit in the “cold” months.
Despite the complete lack of popular manifestations, the shops in the main streets of the town centre are still active and there’s nothing stopping you from getting a creamy gelato al pistachio that won’t melt completely after two seconds.
The Ex Stabilimento Florio, home of the ancient tonnara is open all year around. The rooms where the red tuna was once salted, seasoned and packaged are filled with a soft, mellow daylight that reflects on the wall the Florio family’s emblem of the tins. A long row of boilers are lined up outside looking like a group of small craters under the January sun. The room where the tuna was hanged upwards to desiccate overlooks a sea that is calm, flat, cobalt blue with sparkles of a white light here and there.
The road to Cala Rossa is curvy, dusty and white. Hiking in the slope around the big squared stones, the chance to slip is around the corner.
But the more the ground is sloping, the better you manage to see what’s underneath. It’s rossa because the bluest, clearest and most intense water expanse opens up from a deep stoned canyon which from white, has suddenly become brick red. There’s a soft, calm wind blowing; it’s not mischievous, it just gently moves your hair on one side to let your eyes admire the spectacle in front of them. Sky and sea blend and become one big painting. Nothing is disturbing, not even the sharp rocks you’re forced to seat on. The journey continues and from cala to cala, without realising it, we arrive at the very end of the island. It’s Punta Sottile, a long belt of arid grass, disrupted by small curves of clear water here and there, where, unconcerned of the fact that Italy finishes here, some seamen rest on their wooden boats, spooned by the same polite and non-intrusive sun. A beige lighthouse symbolises the point of no return. But Favignana is not over yet, not so soon.
Heading back, we stop over the beach of Marasolo. There’s a large car park, empty, of course. Just an old red Fiat Panda 4x4 keeps us company, in addition to the owner of the small bar. We order a glass of white wine, seat on the small wooden chairs and look, in silence. Because this is all you can do in front of nature. You can’t judge, you can’t complain, you can’t comment. No matter what you say, the sun will still become a big ball of fire hiding behind Monte Santa Caterina; the sea will still be flat and turn almost grey as the sun goes down; the soft and gentle wind will still be blowing because here, in this island, at the end of “The Boot”, seasons are not an inconvenience, life goes on despite everything, with the same slow pace, the same relaxed and comforting spirit that only southern people can maintain. And no matter where you come from, Favignana, and its inhabitants, will always be willing to gift you some of that pace.