Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Aegadian Islands Yacht Charters

Aegadian Islands are a hidden paradise. The largest, the most populated and the closest to the mainland is Favignana, which is crossed in a north-south direction by a hilly ridge named Montagna Grossa (Large Mountain). The island has two ports and the spectacular tuna-fishing season is in force from April to June. Florio palace stands prominently on arrival. It was built in the second half of the nineteen century by a trading family from Palermo which bought the entire archipelago and acquired all fishing rights. In that period tuna-fishing knew its largest expansion, and was probably the only one permanently operating in Sicily. In the seventeen century, under the Spanish rule, tuna-fishing was one of the most important in the Mediterranean, both for fish quality and finish products which were exported the world over. Outside the urban area, landscape is spotted with pastures and cultures, separated by a close net of stone walls. The only sign of population is the presence of small whitewashed houses surrounded by rare indian fig and palm threes. 

The island's real attraction however are the tuff caves, a building stone mined there so aptly called "Favignana" less and less used today for building purposes, its softness was in the past exploited for sculpturing as well. Rock so mined form deep chasms and dry basins. Levanzo island, surrounded by Pizzo Monaco steeply following to the sea, is nearby. Docking is available at Cala Dogana. The island attraction called "Grotta del Genovese" is a true paradise for pre-historical fans. Bones and petrified trees are everywhere, together stone engraving and drawings going back more than 10000 years to the phaleolitic and neolithic eras, all of them exceptionally well preserved. A painter in search of subjects, discovered them in 1949. Animals and dancers painted in bright red and black, are represented. Getting to the "Grotta del Genovese" is however difficult even donkey riding, as suggested by the local guides. Marettimo, the third main island, is entirely different: surrounded as it is by Falcone mountain, 700 meters high, which gives a totally different out line to the island. Its distance from the two mainland ports, Trapani and Marsala, is the same and the short passage warrants an exclusive visit. An ensemble of Dolomite stones thrown in the crystal clear Sicilian waters with deep vertical cuts reaching the sea, the steep gorges followed by impressive rock towers is the natural frame to a series of superb caves with multicolored stalagmites. Notable among them are the cave of the nativity the Perciata and the Bombarda, where diving is easy and tropical fishes can be seen. Inland, climbing to Falcone mountain is a must where trough a path, a twelve century chapel and the remnants of Roman housing can be visited. Fish hawks and wild rabbits have their habitat there. On the sea side, however and very unfortunately seals have nowadays disappeared following the uncontrolled hunting that took place especially in the Camel cave. 

On your Sicilian crewed yacht charter vacation cuisine is an adventure in history. Its cooking speaks of its complicated history of invasions and occupations as well as of the fresh flavors of the land and the bounty of the sea. There is cuscus (couscous) from Trapani, an Arab legacy, served with a fish stew. Pasta con le sarde, with fresh anchovies, is traditional. Bottarga, tuna roe that has been salted and pressed, tops pasta in the renowned spaghetti alla siracusana. Sfinciuni di San Vito, a stuffed focaccia, is not to be missed, nor is caponata, a sensuous dish of eggplant, celery and onions that are fried separately and cooked briefly in a sweet and sour sauce that includes tomatoes, raisins, pine nuts, vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Farsumagru, a meat roll filled with cheese, sausage and boiled eggs is one of the island’s classic meat dishes, and piscispada alla ghiotta, an exuberant swordfish preparation, its most famous fish dish. Cassata, a sponge cake with ricotta, chocolate, candied fruits and pistachios, is the most beloved Sicilian dessert ricotta-stuffed cannoli are known throughout the world. Cubbaita, a nougat with honey, almonds, and sesame seeds, speaks of Arab influence. Some of Italy’s best ice cream is made in Sicily, and little can rival the sweetness of its fruit. Sicily produces a number of great wines, most of them sweet: Marsala, Malvasia delle Lipari, and Moscato. Excellent table wines are made on the Regaleali estate other outstanding ones are Etna, Alcamo, Corvo, Faro, and Ombra. The best period for a yacht charter in Sicily is from April to October, even though the warmest months are, like in the most part of the Mediterranean area, June, July, August and September. 

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