Amongst the three Aegadian Islands, Marettimo is the most isolated, untouched and wild. It lies roughly fifteen miles off of the Sicilian coast and is 7.5 km long and 2.5 km wide. Unlike Favignana and Levanzo, Marettimo sees little tourism; its distance has helped the island keep much of its natural state. Where the others have seen much deforestation, Marettimo has not and Aleppo pine groves still flourish here. It’s the perfect place to take a walk through the wilderness; you can view the wildlife, the flora or even just take in some great views from its peaks. There are also some great historic sites you can see here; in fact the island is full of history.
There has been much speculation over the years as to where the home of Odysseus, one of ancient Greece’s most notable characters, truly was. He came from an island named Ithaca and it’s generally accepted that he came from an island that exists now with the same name, though there has been speculation that actually Odysseus actually hailed from Marettimo itself. This was first suggested by the British scholar Samuel Butler who, after extensive research and several tours around the islands of Italy, believed that the adventures of The Odyssey actually took place around Sicily.
Later the island was inhabited by the Romans and you can still visit their homes today. During the Punic War around the year 150 BC they built a military garrison here on Marettimo, the island was an important strategic position and helped them control the route between Rome and Tunisia. There are two main buildings that comprise the site known as ‘Casa Romane’, the older of the two buildings is thought to date from 241 AD, towards the end of the Roman Republic. The newer is a Byzantine Church believed to have been built between the 11th and 12th centuries.
Marettimo’s attractions aren’t just found on the island though, most in fact are found on the shores and beneath the depths. Scuba diving is very popular here and often is the case that locals will happily take tourists by boat to the best spots. Some of the best places to explore are the magnificent caves of which there are around a whopping 400 in total. The caves exist both above and below the water and many were used as a place for marauders, pirates and other such nefarious sea villains to take refuge during the Spanish rule. There are several caves that are well known in the region, the ‘Grotta del Cammello’ which is situated within a cliff of the same name and called so because it is shaped like a camel, there’s the ‘Grotto del Presepe’ or Cave of Nativity which hosts a selection of stalactites and stalagmites and the ‘Grotto del Tuono’, the Cave of Thunder which is named after the sounds given off as waves crash into its walls.
This is the perfect place to go for someone that wants to see somewhere untouched by commercialism and an overly touristy atmosphere. Whether its ancient history that interests you, the beauty of the islands wildlife or the wonders of the sea, Marettimo could be the place for you.