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Pantelleria: Sicily’s best kept secret

The stunning, real-life locations where new film A Bigger Splash was filmed, had us dreaming of decamping to the Italian island of Pantelleria - so stunning were the clear blue waters and so dazzling the dramatic volcanic landscapes.



It was the perfect setting for the film, a  holiday-villa-in-paradise-turns-dark drama. The Director had his sights on it from the offset, explaining "I always wanted the island of Pantelleria to be the location for the film...The rocks there are dark, almost black from the volcanic activity. And the winds are legendary and powerful; known as the scirocco that blows from Africa to the island. The characters go there for a holiday, and they end up being in the middle of a powerful natural presence."

...And it's the perfect destination for an early-summer getaway! Read our picks of the best things to see and do below, which include some behind-the-scenes info from the film!

A Pantellerian Getaway...
Stay:


The villa in the movie is part of the Tenuta Borgia resort, where you'll find seven ancient 'dammusi' (guest cottages) nestled in 12 hectares of palm trees, pinewoods, vineyards and olive trees. With an on-site farm devoted to the production of olive oil and Passito wine, it's one of the most exclusive and stunning retreats on the Island. 

Club Levante is a fabulously stylish hotel, with the 'dammusi' linked by stepped paths and pine trees. There's a communal terrace that overlooks the famous Elephant Arch, a white concrete infinity pool and elegant, rustic bedrooms; a couple of rooms have a sea view from the bed.

Or stay in one of four self-catering lava-stone cottages at Giardini di Pantelleria. Perched upon a dramatic black lava hillside (the largest reachable only on foot up 60 steps), they're perfect for stargazing; you'll find maps and a telescope in each cottage.

Eat:


Pretty much everything you'll eat on Pantelleria is grown on the island, and bursting with Mediterranean soul. You'll find dishes rich in ingredients like aubergines, tomatoes and capers - a must-try is the caper pesto (Pantelleria's capers are cherished throughout Italy).

However, the island is actually closer to Tunisia than to Sicily, and so much of that influence remains. Local traditions also include fish couscous, always served with a variety of greens and other vegetables and 'sciakiscuika', a hot vegetable stew.

Drink:
Passito - the precious local wine - is produced using Pantelleria's zibbibo grapes, and is a delicious amber wine that encompasses sweet notes of figs and dried dates, honey, candied orange and apricots. In 2014, the timeless Pantelleria wine growing tradition may have been awarded a UNESCO World Heritage stamp, but its history belongs to local-legend, too. Legend has it that the goddess Tanit disguised herself as the god's waitress and exchanged ambrosia with passito (winning the heart of her beloved Apollo in doing so).

Do:



The island's coastal vista and shallow waters are actually ideal for diving. As one of the most unspoiled marine areas in the Mediterranean basin, the sea here is home to lush seagrass meadows and coral reefs so it's well worth hiring a boat for an afternoon. At 32-miles-square the island is so small that visitors can easily sail around it in an afternoon, soaking up the sun and exploring the rocky coves. There's also trekking, mountain biking, and hot-springing on offer in the ancient, dramatic landscape.

Spa:

Proof of the island's volcanic origins are the natural swimming pools and hot springs that pepper the island. Enjoy the island's 'natural wellness centres', luxuriating in the natural sauna cave buried in the mountains in the Monestero region, and bathing in the serene volcanic lake and therapeutic mud baths at Lo Specchio di Venere (Venus' Looking Glass), the beach where Marianne (Tilda Swinton) and Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) go at the beginning of the movie.

Getting there:
Flights and ferries run often from Trapani and Palermo. The best time to go is May/June or September/October, during which time you should be able to book direct flights from Rome, Milan and Venice.

A Bigger Splash is in cinemas now. For more information on the film visit www.a-bigger-splash.co.uk

Tags: travel
Posted on 12th February 2016 by Hush

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