Aegadian Islands

The Aegadian Islands are a group of five small mountainous islands in theMediterranean Sea off the northwest coast of SicilyItaly, near the cities of Trapani and Marsala, with a total area of 37.45 square kilometres (14.46 sq mi).

The Island of Favignana (Aegusa), the largest, lies 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) southwest of Trapani; Levanzo (Phorbantia) lies 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) west; and Marettimo, the ancient Iera Nesos, 24 kilometres (15 mi) west of Trapani, is now reckoned as a part of the group. There are also two minor islands, Formica and Maraone, lying between Levanzo and Sicily. For administrative purposes the archipelago constitutes the comune of Favignana in the Province of Trapani.

The overall population in 1987 was estimated at about 5,000. Winter frost is unknown and rainfall is low. The main occupation of the islanders is fishing, and the largest tuna fishery in Sicily is here.

Favignana

Favignana is a comune including three islands (Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo) of the Aegadian Islands, southern Italy. It is situated approximately 7 kilometres (4 miles) west of the coast of Sicily, betweenTrapani and Marsala, the coastal area where the Stagnone Lagoon and the international airport of Trapani, are sited. The island of Favignana is famous for its tuna fisheries and is now a popular tourist destination with frequent hydrofoil connections to the mainland. Favignana is the largest of the three principal Egadi Islands, with a land area of 19.8 square kilometres (7.6 sq mi). The island is often described as having a "butterfly" shape. Favignana town is located on a narrow isthmus connecting the two "wings", which have quite different characteristics. The eastern half of the island is largely flat, while the western half is dominated by a chain of hills of which Monte Santa Caterina is the tallest at 314 metres (1,030 ft). It is topped by a fort, originally established by the Saracens and still in use by the Italian military (and closed to the public). The island is famous for its caves of calcarenite rock (locally known as "tufo") and the ancient fishing technique of tonnara, with the trapping and mattanza (massacre) of bluefin tuna. Because the island consists mainly of calcareous rocks, there are few beaches on the island; however, it is a popular site for scuba divingsnorkeling, and for day trips from nearby Trapani.

Levanzo

is the smallest of the three main Aegadian Islands in the Mediterranean Sea west of SicilyItaly. It forms a part of the municipality (comune) of Favignana in the Province of Trapani. Levanzo has an area of 5.82 square kilometres (2.25 sq mi). The highest point is Pizzo Monaco with a height of 278 metres (912 feet). The island has about 450 inhabitants, who are concentrated around a tiny port, that gives little shelter from storms.

The ancient name of the island was "Phorbantia" which is a sort of plants growing there.

Levanzo is famous for the "Grotta del Genovese" with Neolithic cave paintings and Palaeolithic graffitoes.

Marettimo 

is one of the Aegadian Islands in the Mediterranean Sea west of SicilyItaly. It forms a part of the municipality (comune) of Favignana in the Province of Trapani. From Trapani, it takes about an hour to reach the island. Marettimo is the second largest of the Aegadian Islands. The highest point is Monte Falcone with a height of 686 m (2,251 ft). The island has about 300 inhabitants in the winter and 700 in the summer (not including tourists), who mainly live from fishing, tourism and traditional handcrafts. Fishing is predominately conducted in the summer months. The island is home to about 500 plant species, many of them indigenous and very rare, among the most endangered being Bupleurum dianthifolium, Brassica macrocarpa, Scilla hughii and Thymus richardii subsp.nitidus; the last was chemically investigated.

There is a sizeable population of donkeys and horses on the island. There are wild goats, rabbits, eagles, peregrine falcons and plenty of screeching gulls.

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