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Sicilia - Places to Visit - Island of Ustica

Ustica in Sicilia

This island rises from the waters of the Tyrrhenian about 36 miles to the north-west of Palermo and has a wild and fascinating appearance because of the contrast between the intense colours of the sea and the rough volcanic rock formations of its coast (it is geologically similar to Lipai).

The earliest inhabitants there, were the Phoenicians; later the Greeks called it Osteodes, or the 'ossuary' in memory of the six thousand deported Carthaginians who are traditionally believed to have died of inanition on the island.

The Romans gave it the name of Ustum, a reference to the blackish, burnt appearance of its volcanic rocks. There was once a Benedictine monastery on the island, around which the first settlement formed; the settlement was several times razed by Saracen pirates.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, Ustica was fortified by the Bourbons, which thu allowed organized colonies of settlers from Palermo, Trapani and the Aeolian islands to form.

Ustica in Sicilia

The town called Ustica is on the north-east coast and slopes picturesquely down the folds of the Falconara, a tufa relief where the remains of an ancient Mecropolis with underground tombs have been found. An interesting Museum of Submarine Archaeology has been set up in the Torre di Santa Maria.

A remote prehistoric settlement dating from the Bronze Age (fourteenth to the thirteenth century B.C.) has been identified in the place called Faraglioni.

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