Pantelleria National Park (Parco Nazionale Isola de Pantelleria in Italian) is a national park on the island of Pantelleria, in Sicily. The 66.4 square kilometres national park, which covers 80% of the 84.5 square kilometre island, is Sicily’s first.
The Mediterranean island was developed after a volcanic eruption 500,000 years ago. However, many of its physical formations stem from a volcanic eruption in 6,000 BC. Part of the park’s beauty is natural, with sections of the national park completely untouched.
An ideal starting point for tourists is the visitors’ centre located at Punta Spadillo, near the island’s lighthouse. They can then go on to visit archaeological sites such as late Roman and Bronze Age settlements. There is also an Acropolis dating back to Punic times.
The national park also hosts the majestic and mysterious Mirror Lake of Venus, where it said Venus herself used to gaze at her own reflection. The crystal-clear blue water lies in a volcano crater and is heated by underground springs up to between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius. Many people swim for free in the lake, attracted by its sulfur and mineral elements which are good for skin care and healing.
Pantelleria’s main heritage is its agriculture, developed through many generations of vine growers and farmers. The island has a tradition of cultivating head-trained bush vines on a plot of land owned by around 5,000 people, a process officially titled vite ad alberello. In 2014, this was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
In 2018, the dry-stone walls of Pantelleria (paesaggio della pietra a secco di Pantelleria) was listed in the National Register of Historic Rural Landscapes (Registro Nazionale dei Paesaggi Rurali Storici).
The national park is awash with rich fauna and flora. There are roughly 640 species of flora, including 13 endemisms and 63 rare and very rare species. Whilst the fauna population has not been completely recorded, it is known that there are 1096 different species of arthropods, 14 endemisms and 260 species of birds, including the very rare Iberian zitting cisticola and Algerian blue tit.
As you would expect, the landmarks and landscapes seen in Pantelleria are completely unique. One main feature of the national park, in its many city quarters and Municipalities, is the inimitable dammuso housing. The dammuso, which has been around since the 10th century, is a thick-walled single-storey dwelling, made from volcanic rock. The structure keeps the interior cool and also allows for traditional domed roofs. Many of these have now been adapted and modernised for tourists.
The meticulous practice, which has been developed and maintained in the land’s local dialect, sees a summer harvest followed by many social events to celebrate the completion of the process. The local dialect in the park is Pantesco, a dialect of Sicilian influenced by Arabic.