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Pantelleria, Italy
Fast Facts
Boating & Sailing
Kid-Friendly Hotels
Family Travel Tips

Dammuso, Pantelleria


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

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Pantelleria may be overlooked by guidebooks but family travelers shouldn't do the same. This small, volcanic island - closer to Tunisia than Sicily - is one of the Mediterranean's few true pearls. But take note, beaches aren't the reason for a trek here. Pantelleria's shoreline is, for the most part, lava rock not sand. So why take the kids? The island's blue-green waters offer some of Italy's best snorkeling. Inlets and caves, some as grand as cathedrals, make boat trips interesting. Sesi - circular cairns - and Phoenician tombs, at Mursia and Monastero respectively, provide families with a chance to play archaeologist for the day. The hot springs at Grotta di NicĂ , in the village of Scauri, a chance to take a Roman bath. And that's not all! Hike Monte Grande, the island's highest peak, and take in the views of North Africa and the Straight of Sicily. Walk the circumference of Lago Specchio di Venere (Venus' Mirror) and, in addition to taking in the volcanic lake's incredible color, watch migratory birds in spring and fall. Follow the trail to Girlanda Valley and discover how modern day islanders survive. Nothing is wasted on Pantelleria.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

Alfredo De Simone


Prickly Pear Cactus, called Fichi d'India in Italian, grow on the island of Pantelleria. The fruit - sometimes orange and sometimes red - is eaten peeled and it is often used to make gelato and Italian ice. In some countries, such as Mexico, the pads of this cactus are eaten too. No matter what part of the prickly pear you eat, be careful of the spines. There are hundreds on each pad and prickly pear fruit! Here are a few tips for picking and cleaning prickly pears.

  • Wear thick gloves when picking pads and fruit.
  • When you get home, put the pads or fruit in a bowl of cold water and let them sit. You'll remove some of the spines in this way.
  • To remove the rest of the spines, fold a piece of paper toweling 2 or 3 times and wrap it around the pads and fruit one at a time.
  • Use a tweezers to remove the spines from the pads and a small sharp knife to peel the skin from the fruit.
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