Trapani (or Birgi Airport, located about 19 km south of the city) is easily accessible by Ryanair from the UK. Once in Trapani, the Egadi Islands – Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo – to the west, are as easily accessible by ferry. We chose to spend six days on Favignana – the butterfly shaped island. Were we right, and would we recommend that you do the same?
Ferry tickets, with Ustica Lines, can be bought from Egatours, located on the Trapani port road, right opposite the ferries to the islands. One way is approximately 10 euros. If you’ve checked out of your hotel and need to store your luggage before crossing, they also have a secure baggage storage room (3 euros per item) – worth knowing as it hot in this part of the world and dragging around all of your worldly belongings is not good! The crossing is about 45 mins on a hydrofoil – all inside seating, so again, worth knowing so that you can bag a window seat.
It’s very small, so can get very crowded, in peak season. Like the port, the island is very small (about 33kms all round the coastline), so the main form of transport is either bicycle or scooter, although a jeep is handy for less accessible beaches. We hired a jeep for two days from Noleggio Plaia, just out of the port road to your right – the guide prices suggested 70 euros per day, be we got it for 100 for 2 days, so worth asking. Turn right out of the road from the port & this will take you into Favignana “town” – although, all told, the parts you’d want to visit are no bigger than Didsbury village. Turn left, and you’ll still end up in town, it’ll just take a couple more minutes to get there.
When you leave Favignana, you buy your ferry ticket from the port – last office on the right hand side. Might be an idea not to turn up as the ferry is there – they tend to off load & onload pretty quickly, and the ticket office people do like chatting as they sell you your ticket 😉
Favignana has the feel of a town that is just emerging as a destination. Although it can get very busy, with people coming over from Trapani & people staying, as we did, it still feels a very authentic Sicilian town – so, don’t go if you’re expecting full on amenities and a wide variety of upmarket bars and restaurants. There are plenty – but they are mostly very basic. The town is “T” shaped, with most located on the main road up from the port (although none are located in the port area) and then in the square the top of the “T”. If you’re there for any more than a night, there’s a large(ish) supermarket on the fringes of town, and a mini market on the main strip. Again, fairly basic – and you’ll definitely need a fridge wherever you’re staying, as we never found any white wine/beer that had been pre-cooled.
EATING & DRINKING
Being an island, as you’d expect, fish dishes are king, closely followed by pizzas. Food was generally good, but quite pricey – and no meal was a stand-out. Just under a week was probably enough time to discover the ones we wanted to discover – any longer & you’d be making a few return visits. If you wanted to cut down on costs, a tip would be to have a drink in one of the more trendy looking bars – they usually offered a “complimentary buffet” (drinks priced around 7 euro mark), & so you could quite easily fill up on small buffet plates. This food again was OK, but nothing remarkable. The one that was consistently pleasant was the Sicilian white wine (dry) – often the house wine, but we didn’t have one that disappointed.
I struggled finding somewhere that I liked the look of when booking online. I always find that putting in “boutique” as a search term will bring up something, and I did find what I was looking for, but there was no availability. We tried this cute fisherman’s cottage, found online, but sadly, and with hindsight, unsurprisingly – all booked. In self-catering terms this was a stand-out property – check for yourself. Not many properties seem to have had an overhaul and many are really dated, decor wise – but definitely very authentic. The island does boast one boutique hotel – Cave Bianchi Hotel – although full when we were there. We found it when out driving – you would definitely need transport as it is in the middle of nowhere, but looks beautiful.
We finally plumped for Hotel Aegusa – just be aware that there is an annexe, about 50 metres away from the main hotel. We were allocated a “triple room” here. Whilst it could be a lovely, it just seemed a bit, well – unloved. The room was big but again, very basic. The bathroom, whilst not awful, had seen better days and at just over £100 per night, I wanted something nicer. Reception were extremely helpful – and not at all surprised that we were requesting a room change. Unfortunately, they were fully booked but it turned out that they do have a sister hotel, Insula, a short distance away and a room would be available for three nights. Upon viewing it we swapped. Hotels are in short supply in Favignana, so we’d recommend this one – not amazing, but more than adequate. Breakfast in both hotels was good – staple Italian choices of bread, cheese, ham, eggs, croissants and cakes with good coffee. We did spot a hotel right by the port – perhaps not the best location, but it did look as if it might be setting a new trend in contemporary styling. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten its name ;(
Having a jeep for two days meant we covered most of it. The best beach we found was right under our noses – to the left of the port as you stand facing out to sea. The entrance to the beach is interesting, to say the least – a huge pile of abandoned wooden fishing boats and anchors, looking like an Antony Gormley sculpture. I thought beautiful. Some might think, a right mess…
However, the beach over towards the old tuna canning factory – an absolutely beautiful building – is sandy and slopes down to very shallow, azure blue waters. Perfect that a little lone fishing boat, in the colours of the Italian flag, was bobbing on the water…
Sandy beaches are in short supply around the island. In fact, beaches are in short supply. Many “beaches” are actually rocky outcrops – so do like the Italians do & take a beach towel and claim your rock! Notable coves to get to are Cala Rossa & Cala Azzurra to the south east of the island and Cala Rotondo to the west.
So, would we go back to Favignana? On balance, probably no – but glad we’ve done it. For me, the east coast of Sicily has the magic, but each to their own. And, you can’t knock the sunsets on the west coast…