Pantelleria is a Mediterranean island and a comune of 7,715 inhabitants in the province of Trapani in Sicily.

The island of Pantelleria is more than 80 km² and is 110 km southwest of Sicily and 70 east-northeast of Tunisia, whose coastline, like Sicilian, is sometimes visible to the naked eye. The territory of the island of Pantelleria is of volcanic origin. The last eruption occurred in 1891 on the northwestern slope in the submerged part. There are still many secondary volcanic phenomena, predominantly hot waters and steamheads. The island reaches an altitude of 836 m above sea level with the Great Mountain. On clear days it is visible from Sicily to the province of Agrigento.
Pantelleria has an airport and is connected to continental Italy with scheduled flights and a port with regular connections to Trapani and Mazara.

Etymology –
The ancient name of Pantelleria was that of Cossira (gr. Κοσσύρα, ​​lat. Cossyra). This name seems to have been given by the Phoenicians to today’s Pantelleria even if the etymology is unknown or at least could be traced back to the patella, in other words flat, bowl, large cup.

Geographical Characteristics –
Pantelleria is, as said, the ancient Cossyra, SO island. Of Sicily, which is considered an addiction, although it is closer to Africa. Pantelleria is in fact from Mazara del Vallo 110 km. And from Cape Mustafa, Tunisia, only 70. The island has an irregular elliptical shape, and its major axis runs in the NO-SE direction. From the northwestern point, Punta della Croce, to the south-east coast, Punta Salina or better Punta Limarsi, has a length of about 14 km and measures more than 8 km in the largest part of SE .. Its surface is just under 83 sq km. Morphologically, it can be divided into two parts: the one to the SE larger, rounded, with its mainly high and more developed coasts even in height; The other, NO, flat and hilly. However, it is not easy, considering that the island is almost entirely made up of volcanic soils, clearly distinguish between the first and the second; There is, however, an approximate limit from Cala del Cinque Denti and arriving at the head of Sataria, through some internal depressions. Almost at the center of the SE part is the surplus of the tallest Pantelleria crater. It is barely recognizable for that informal and long ridge, which is called the Great Mountain (m. 836). Here it culminates in the island, offering the widest view of its lands and the sea. Conquered westward by other eruptions, as evidenced by cuddia mida elevations (mt 591), the crater now revealing more than one point the lower primitive hem, as in the village of the Madonna del Rosario, is manifested in Such as a large slope, which ceases with the lifting of M. Gelfiser (m. 394), to which behind, behind, the lava of the same name. Here and elsewhere among the various species of trachitis it is more worthy to note that vitrified greenish vitriol.
Pantelleria is characterized by the uniqueness of its landscape, in which natural manuscripts (blocks of lava flows, clay, and carvings) are added to the manuscripts created by man: dry walls, with the quadruple function of spinning the bottom, holding the ground , Delimit property and protect it from the wind; Pantheistic gardens, almost cylindrical masonry lava stone construction with the dual function of protecting citrus from the wind and controlling the micro-climatic effects for a proper supply of water to the plant, where the island is naturally lacking; Dammuses, rural buildings with thick dry, cubic walls, with domed white roofs and full-arch archways, atavistic examples of bio-climatic architecture.
The island has fewer roads, and has a large network of mule trackers, sometimes followed by volcanic depressions, but mostly the ridges and edges of the old craters now reduced to long, arched hills, Eye spans over the sea and the lands of the island.

Historical Notes –
The island was definitely inhabited since the Neolithic. This is proved by the findings of its characteristic obsidian stone throughout the Mediterranean basin.
It is believed that it was inhabited in the Neolithic era by a population, perhaps of Ligurian lineage, to which the forts of the village of Mursia and those unique megalithic burial monuments in the form of a dome, called Sesi.
At the end of the Eneolithic era a bunch of pots, perhaps a funeral kit, accidentally found in Bugeber is dated. As far as known to date, the oldest appropriation is the fortified village with cyclone walls of Murcia, Bronze Age, dating to a period between the XXII and the fifteenth century BC, of ​​which are known numerous huts, the oldest The curious plan of the ship’s hull, and an imposing wall of fortification, one of the best preserved in the prehistoric Mediterranean, which is often about 10 meters high and at least similarly surrounding the settlement on its east side A length of 300 meters.
The tombs, such as this term of obscure etymology, exclusive of pantomime dialect, are very characteristic of them, of which survive a hundred specimens scattered in the rugged Cimillia district that forms the eastern outskirts of the town. These are dry stone-built lava-stone buildings with a circular plan with a hemispheric or truncated conic, sometimes graded. In their interior there is a variable number of cells (from two to twelve) with circular planes with dome domed vault, accessed by a narrow and low passageway. Archaeological excavations conducted in the settlement have returned a considerable amount of objects imported from various Mediterranean regions (Mycenaean and Egypt). This denotes the central role of the island in a dense network of exchanges that had as its main objective the major metals, copper and pond, required for the production of bronze.
Testimony of its ancient history, Pantelleria preserves numerous monumental remains. The most important and exclusive are the ones that make up the area of ​​Mursìa and Cimillia, that is, the capitals of the Bronze age, with a monumental wall of fortification, and the relative necropolis of the sesi. Numerous are also the testimonies of the ancient Cossyra, visible on the hills of St. Mark and St. Thérèse. In 2003, three heads of Roman statues dating to the first century were found. C ..
Perhaps from this time, for a long period of time, the island remained apparently uninhabited. We have to wait for the arrival of the Phoenicians who founded a colony, Cossyra, whose archaeological remains are on the hills of St. Mark and St. Theresa in the immediate backdrop of the current capital. Cossyra soon came into the orbit of the nearby Carthaginian power, which followed the destinies. During the Punic period, the hundreds of cisterns that trace the island’s territory are traditionally traced back to them. Pantelleria was later occupied more often by the Romans during the Punic wars during the third century BC until the final conquest of 217 BC. The Romans gave a strong impetus to the island’s economy as evidenced by the many settlements spread in its Territory and discoveries on the same site as Cossyra, including three portraits depicting Cesare, Tito and a woman identified with Antonia minor.
Subsequently (V-VI century BC) some settlements date back to the necropolises of tombs dug into the rock and a characteristic ceramic production, known as pantellerian ware, found in various places in the Mediterranean. In this era Panetlleria, conquered by the Byzantine admiral Belisario in 540, on behalf of Emperor Giustiniano, experienced a period of profound decay, during which it was used, as perhaps already in Roman times, as a place of exile for important figures. It is up to this period, if not the introduction, at least the profound Christianization of its people. Historical sources also cite a monastery which is still unknown to the site. The Byzantine era dates back to the present name of the island, which in its original form Patelareas, Πατελαρέας, appears for the first time in the rule of this monastery.
Beginning in 700, Pantelleria was sacked by the Arabs and then permanently occupied probably from 845, in the context of the Arab domination of Sicily, thus becoming part of the Emirate of Sicily. Traditionally, the Arabs are attributed to the arrival of much of the characteristic elements of its current landscape, among which, as said, the dammuses. Certainly, the Arabs introduced the cultivation of cotton and their tongue which, with a local variant similar to Maltese, will remain in use until the early nineteenth century and still profoundly influences Sicilian locally speaking. In 1123 the island was conquered by the Normans of Ruggero I of Sicily and annexed to the Kingdom of Sicily, which will follow its destiny to this day. In 1311 an Aragonese fleet, under the command of Louis of Requesens, achieved a remarkable victory; The Requesens family subsequently acquired the island’s principality.
Let us recall that in June 1488 he was plundered by a squadron of 11 Turkish troops, which took away 80 slaves of the 250 inhabitants that Pantelleria then counted and also raided all cotton and canvas production, at that time the richness of the island . Due to its proximity to the African coast, Pantelleria was repeatedly plundered by barbarians. Particularly bloody was the raid that in the middle of the sixteenth century was led by the Dragut stealer: the capital was completely destroyed and the massacred population, with about a thousand people taken to slavery. At the same time, the current layout of the Barbican Castle, which still dominates the port of the capital, dates back to the same period, although probably the first plant was of Norman era. Bourbon sovereigns transformed the island into a criminal colony, a function which also maintained under the Savoy and which ceased entirely with the fall of fascism.
In the last century, during the 1930s, the island was fortified by Mussolini’s direct will, designed by the architect Pierluigi Nervi, who built, among other things, a gigantic underground hangar. During the Second World War in the waters of Pantelleria, one of the two clashes of the mid-June battle occurred. In 1943, the conquest of Pantelleria was considered of strategic importance by allied troops who were preparing to invade Sicily, so much that the island was heavily bombed by the sea and the sky to prepare the landing of troops in the course of an operation Amphibious called Operation Corkscrew.

Ecosystem –
Pantelleria is characterized by a warm Mediterranean climate, tempered by sea breezes that blossom in every season, including prevailing siro and maestral.
Like all the islands, even Pantelleria, is characterized by a more characteristic ecosystem than the bioregion where it is located because of its geographical isolation. The indigenous flora of the island is made up of Mediterranean vegetation, very lush in the southeastern regions. The dominant elements of this landscape are the broom, the bush, the sea pine and the aromatic plants typical of gariga (thyme, rosemary, lavender, oregano, almond). On the highest peaks there is a pines forest, which at lower altitudes is replaced by oaks (which are locally called baluti). The scarcity of water that is not rain has made it impossible for the development of irrigated agriculture. A variety of capers grows spontaneously on the island, which today also represents one of the main crops of the island, along with that of vine and olive (with the variety called “biancolilla”), the latter cultivated low and branched in amplitude to protect it By the wind. Citrus fruits are rare, cultivated with special care and protected by winds. Also introduced by man are many varieties of palms, among which there is no dwarf palm (Chamaerops humilis) which on the other Mediterranean islands, including Sicily, is associated with stain.
Among the other crops, one can not remember the Zibibbo, probably imported from the Arabs, characterized by long bunches and large and golden sugary berries. After the philosophers of 1928, which decreed almost the disappearance, today it is grafted on the American vine.
Pantelleria plays a fundamental role in the migration of many avian species. It is indeed a transit point for the migration of many avian species between Europe and Africa. Among the living birds there are several species of birds, including the pilgrim falcon, the beetle, the buzzard and the big beret. Already given for extinction, but still existing, it is the nun seal. In this regard, one of the main aims of the Marine Park in Pantelleria is to create a protected area for the seagrass seal, which has become particularly rare in the Mediterranean, and now classified among species of marine mammals threatened with extinction, but which in recent years Certain sightings were made along the southern rocky coast of the island. From this, the contacts and work of the Pro Parco Marino Committee with the Icram (Central Institute for Scientific and Technological Research applied to the Sea) are mentioned.
With regard to the marine fauna, once richer, given the traditionally agricultural vocation of the Panteschi, there are fishes of the most sought after varieties: parrot fish, horns, saraghi, salsa, scorpionfish, mascots, curls, tuna, tuna, barracuda , Curly, chestnuts and polyps. As far as the bird life is concerned, there are numerous gulls, khaki, Italian knights, sparrows, to which are added the traditional migratory birds such as quail, beak, teddy bears, thistles, lynxes and flamingos, who choose as a place of rest Lake or Mirror of Venus, another peculiarity of Pantelleria.
The other mammals, all of small size, are made up of Mediterranean crocicids, worms and numerically, especially rabbits, introduced by humans, who, having no natural enemies, reproduce uncontrollably in Pantelleria as in Many other sites.
Probably introduced by man and then rebuilt are many other species: the Sardinian colubro, the only species of snake present on the island, the goat that in the Middle Ages populated the landscape but is now extinct, and the wild cat living in small colonies Among the forests of the southeastern region.
Among the larger mammals, besides a few cattle and sheep raised in a cattle farm, and in small numbers, the Pantelleria fauna includes the presence of an equine native ancestry, called pantheonian donkey. Already extinct, thanks to an initiative of the Sicilian Region, a project has been developed to reconstruct the Pantesca breed in purity, after which some specimens are included since 2003. The presence of this donkey has been known for a long time. Very popular until the mid-twentieth century and very strong, Pantelleria’s donkey was selected by the Italian Army during the Great War for the production of military mules.
Pantelleria is home to the Pantelleria Island-oriented natural reserve.
Recently a decree of December 14, 2016 of the Territory and Environment Officer of the Sicilian Region has deleted the Pantelleria Island-oriented Nature Reserve, because its territory will be included in the National Park of the Island of Pantelleria. This park is a protected natural area established by the decree of the President of the Republic of 28 July 2016 and is, in chronological order, the last Italian national park to be established.
Article 1 of Annex A of the Decree of the President of the Republic divides the National Park of Pantelleria into three areas:
AREA 1: relevant naturalistic, landscaping, agricultural and / or historical cultural interest with non-existent or minimum degree of antropization;
ZONE 2: naturalistic, landscaping, agricultural and / or historical cultural value with limited degree of anthropization;
ZONE 3: Landscaping and / or historical cultural value with high degree of anthropization.
Such a park, however, must be incorporated in the normative and safeguarding context without which (see repeated and recent fires) risks to see the objective of its establishment vanished.
Pantelleria, as mentioned above, is an island of volcanic nature but there are few memories that have on the oldest eruptions in Pantelleria. The last and perhaps most famous was that of 1891, which took place in the sea adjacent to the island, on the part of NO, a few miles from the coast, and was preceded by earthquakes and the lifting of the same coast. The water vapor and the lava blocks, which were thrown at a considerable height from the surface of the sea, came from the very side of the island; But no underwater formation emerged from the waters, as in other previous eruptions in the sea between Pantelleria and Sicily, and especially in that of 1831, during which the island called Giulia or Ferdinandea was formed, then demolished by the waves.

Environmental Safeguard Actions –
Like all the more isolated ecosystems, the island of Pantelleria also requires an environmental safeguard that goes beyond the establishment of the National Park of the Pantelleria Island.
This concept is basically based on the need to integrate an anthropic model with an ecological system without any decree or regulation being threatened with being frustrated by behaviors, uses and dynamics that tend to inevitably cripple the already delicate systemic eco balance of the island.
In the island of Pantelleria, as mentioned, there is an extraordinary mammal. We refer to the nun seal.
Fortunately, after years of appeal and hopes, the nun seals reappeared in the Mediterranean. Extraordinary news for the Monachus monachus, the most endangered Mediterranean survival mammal, classified as critically threatened by the International Council for Nature (IUCN).
Let us mean: it is not that the Italian Mediterranean has been seals, indeed, this animal has been declared extinct in our seas because no reproduction has been observed. Yet something (which nature can only explain) is perhaps moving, though probably more in the sensibility and attention of the people than in the recovery of the environment: so in the last five years in Pantelleria, in the waters off Malta, along The southwest coast of Sicily and the islands in the two poles of Sardinia have been reported a series of sightings that researchers believe are fully reliable. The last of the series, that of the seal of Villasimius of the summer of 2000.
Despite the existing ban, since 1938, the ruthless hunt to which they were subjected has developed in the seals a dodgy behavior and escape. Only the most skilled animals survive in the unnoticed passage and to escape human danger fast; So it is probable that some specimens will experience some stretches of our coast, but without being noticed.
The major disadvantage in protecting this animal is the scarce knowledge we have of his biology and lifestyle. That little we know comes from the observations made when, once a year, in the breeding period and the fur coat, the nun seal stands on the mainland. He chooses sheltered beaches to give birth, though the story stories until the last century remind us that the seagulls seated on the rocks could be observed on the beaches in Sardinia and the Sicilian islands. ”
Although unlikely, meeting a monk seal is not impossible and since every report, because of its rarity, has an invaluable value, researchers engaged in the study and the preservation of this animal ask for a hand to all those who , For pleasure or for trade, spend their time at sea.
But the issue of the Monk Foca is not the only one to worry about the island of Pantelleria as well as the whole Mediterranean. The indiscriminate use of the soil, agriculture to “forget” and little respect for the same human identity are increasingly crippling the entire ecosystem world and proportionally more risky the characteristic ecotypes that, as seen remain “reservoirs” Of inestimable biodiversity as well as transition sites and ecological corridors (see migration of birds and the migration of some periodic marine migrations).
But on all human activities, we must point out the incomprehensible absence of politics on energy issues with the overwhelming problem of oil mining in the Mediterranean, which risks, with all the problems associated with these activities (not least the payment in crude water) To definitively compromise ecological wealth of inestimable value.
Pantelleria, like so many islands and so many ecosystems, is full of “energies” only that the man of this historical period looks in the wrong directions compromising the true wealth and well-being of the planet.

Guido Bissanti

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