Portopalo di Capopassero

Portopalo di Capopassero and Delle Correnti island, the extreme edge of Sicily to Africa

Portopalo di Capo Passero is the furtherst strip of coast in the south of Sicily, the last mainland outpost between the sea and the sky to the south of the Tunis parallel. This strip of coast alternates long beaches with sandy dunes and sheer cliffs. The pretty small town of Portopalo develops around the main street (“corso”), bordering the Ionian Sea on one side and the Sicily Canal on the other. Walking along the corso you’ll reach the lively harbour and fish market where a large fleet of trawlers still operate. Portopalo di Capopassero is a natural bay that lends itself to fishing, where you can taste the most delicious catch of the day from the Sicily Canal. The tuna fishery (“tonnara”) in Capopassero dates back to the VII century. You can visit its well-known “balata” (“dock”), its gallery, the furnace building, the manor house and the gentry chapel built in the seventeenth century. This tuna fishery has been active until 2000. From the main square you can see the island of Capopassero, a 1300 metre long and 500 metre wide nature reserve extending for 37 hectares. The Ionian and the Mediterrenean seas lap its shores. Judging it a natural treasure, the Italian Botanical Society included the island in its list of most botanically fascinating Sicilian biotypes for the abundant presence of dwarf palmettos, sea lilies and sea rocket. The entire island is a nature reserve, also because the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta Caretta) has returned to lay her eggs along this coast. The island has a high and steep seashore profile to the east and a sandy shoreline to the west, where the combined action of tides and winds over the years has created a gorgeous beach. The small island, only a few kilometres away from Portopalo, is connected to the mainland through a narrow sandy isthmus. It is dominated by a lighthouse and hosts the remains of a defensive tower from the XIV century. It is also possible to visit l’Isola delle Correnti (not far from Portopalo), which is the most southern point of the European continent, joined to Sicily by a very narrow isthmus, sometimes covered by the sea. An explosion of colours occurs in springtime, when heathers, rock roses, lentisks and gramineous plants start to blossom. Opposite l'Isola delle Correnti the coast is extremely shallow with very broad and beautiful beaches, among which are the beaches of “Carratois” and “Punta delle Formiche” from where you can view splendidly colourful sunsets. There are also several well-equipped beach areas in the summer, providing sun loungers, parasols, showers and a few bars.

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