(Quite frankly, you shouldn’t be surprised if the majority of the posts here are about Italy.)
As Europe’s 10th largest country, Italy sits bigger than the U.K. but smaller than Poland. With a true variety of landscapes and terrains, Italy offers a bit of everything – a perfect balance between sea, mountains, beaches, and villages.
Scattered with just about anything you could want, Italy’s experiences range from Winter Olympic-worthy mountains and bustling cities to beautiful beaches and HOT SPRINGS.
Sauze d’Oulx (Turin) / PC: @fracis8
Spiagga di Sansone (Tuscany) / PC: @noemiibn
Saturnia (Grosseto) / PC: @nostalgiaemframes
There are so many different ways to see and do Italy that you would need 1-2 months (minimum) to get a taste of everything.
So let’s get realistic and face the fact that you’ll (very likely) be going to Italy multiple times in your life. And yes, at least one trip will cover Southern Italy and a visit to Cala Rossa.
Cala Rossa isn’t a “typically Italian” destination. You’ve probably seen pictures of Cala Rossa before and assumed it was somewhere in Greece. Or the Caribbean. Or Belize. Or Tahiti. Or, or, or. You get it.
See for yourself.
Not quite the standard scenery of Tuscany, Rome or Naples, is it?
Cala Rossa exists in its own little corner of the universe – or rather, of Favignana. Just 4 miles off the coast of Sicily in Southern Italy sits the cluster of Favignana, Levanzo, Marettimo, Formica, and Maraone, which together make up the Egadi Islands.
Favignana’s history dates back to ancient times when it was first called Aegusa (“Goat Island). Later renamed for the foehn wind, the island is home to desert-like landscapes, former prisons and a coastline dotted with caves for inhabitants to hide from the constant pirate attacks.
Used by the Phoenicians along their trading routes in 300 BC, by the Arabs as a base for their Islamic Conquest of Sicily in 1081 and by the Italian army in 1911 to jail thousands of Libyan prisoners, Cala Rossa is (thankfully) now strictly a scenic spot for Sicilians and international visitors to enjoy .
While desert-like in parts, the landscape lends itself to more privacy as it requires tourists to clamber over rocks, jump off sandstone quarries or navigate cliff faces just to experience its turquoise waters.
Cala Rossa is an anomaly of Italy. While there has been some global attention to the beautiful beach, it’s still very much an off-the-beaten-track destination, free of buses and tour groups. It remains truly unpretentious.
Something else to enjoy about Cala Rossa is that it’s part of one of the largest marine preserves in Europe (along with all of the Egadi Archipelago, for that matter). Which means a most rewarding snorkeling experience.
The largest of the islands at just 7.6 sq.miles, Favignana does have other beaches fit for either families (Lido Burrone, Praia, Cala Azzurra and Playa) or rocky coves (Bue Marino, pirreca, Previto, Calamoni and Cala Rotonda).
Things to consider doing while visiting Cala Rossa: nothing (laying on the beach and soaking up sun is highly underrated), renting a boat and spending the day in the bay; wandering through the island’s botanical garden; taking a day trip to see the Museum of Salt; or even exploring some of the island’s famous tuna fisheries.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.
- Location: Cala Rossa, Isola di Favignana, Sicily, Italy
- Stay: experience converted quarries and villas dug into the sides of caves. HomeAway offers various unique stays at villas across the island
- Rates/Cost: $28 for the ferry from Trapani to Favignana
- Currency: the Euro (€, EUR)
- Exchange Rate: 1 USD = 0.93 EUR
- Getting there: fly into Palermo and take a Siciltranfert van to Trapani (~1 hr.)
- From Trapani, take one of the hydrofoils or ferries that go back and forth between the islands 3-9x/daily