Although the island of Favignana may not exactly be a secret vacation destination, there are problem still very few people that have even heard of it, except perhaps for history buffs. The island is located just 4 miles west of Sicily and its hotels and prices can be found alongside sicily boutique hotel prices. The island offers many of the same attractions as bigger, more well-known holiday islands in the Mediterranean however, what it does not offer are endless miles of overcrowded beaches, stifling traffic or hotels that cater to thousands. What the island does offer though is the same sun, sea and sand as other holiday islands but these are offered on small secluded beaches which although are easily accessible, never get crowded. What the island does not offer is high priced tickets for entry to historic monuments or museums. This is not because the island has no history worth remembering as it does and has appeared in many history books as being the site of one of the world’s greatest sea battles. It also appears in the history books as being the island which the Islamic forces made their base for the conquest of Sicily. It is also mentioned as being one of the many places that the Normans ruled and fortified and in the case of Favignana, those fortifications were built in 1081 and yet still stand, all be it in ruins, today for all to see. It is in more recent history that the island became famous for the abundance of tuna that swam its waters. So much in fact that in 1867, an industrialist built a tuna cannery on the island which remained in business until as recently as 1980 but the building that once housed that cannery, is now able to be visited as it has been transformed into a museum celebrating tuna and the tuna industry.
As mentioned, the island was host to one of the world’s greatest sea battles and that battle took place on the 10th of march in 241 BC between the Romans who had 200 ships and the Carthaginians that had 400 ships. Why the battle is so well remembered is probably despite the numbers being against them, the Romans won and in doing so sank 120 ships and took over 10,000 prisoners. The battle was fought so close to the island that many of the dead from the battle, washed ashore on the northeast of the island, at a place which is now known as Red Cove (Cala Rossa). What is left of the Norman fortifications can be seen at the top of a hill on the island and as testament to the island’s great days of the tuna industry, all a visitor to the islands has to do is visit one of the restaurants where tuna is always ready to be served. Although not a secret, this island is perhaps made better by the fact that it has not yet become a target for mass tourism.