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Isola delle Correnti [Island of Currents]

The Island of Currents. Not only a beach, but an entire (little) island, that you can reach from the most southern point of Sicily swimming, or on foot, standing waist-deep.

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Isola delle Correnti
Getting to the Isola delle Correnti
Andrea dell'Agnese

This is where Sicily ends. Where the Jonian sea and the Mediterranean are touching, gets close, and at the same time turn away waving in two different directions.  They chase each other and never mix, like an old unrequited love story.  These two seas have even different characters: depending on the winds, when one is quiet, the other is rough, and vice.versa.

For us kids, it was the beach with the big waves, with which we had a nice time, between diving, belly flops and rolling and tumbling.

As an adult, it's the beach of the sunset: I love to watch the sun go down where the earth ends. Yes, because the Isola delle Correnti is just off the coast, and it's connected to the opposite beach by a man-made strip of land constantly eroded by the sea, so that, with the low tide the island transforms into a peninsula, practically accessible on foot and marks the most southern point of the Sicily (excluding the archipelagos). As its latitude is further south than the one of Tunisi, you seem to be on the doorstep of Africa.

You can quite easily arrive at the Island by swimming or on foot, standing waist-deep and being careful to the rocky seabed. You arrive in a wild and abandoned place, memory of a lost time, that will never come back: it's a military outpost now in disuse, and an old lighthouse with the house of the watchman and of his family, now in ruins and degradation.

Despite this, these 10000 square meters of land preserve the wild and barren atmosphere of the Mediterranean scrub and precious relicts of vegetation psammophilous, now protected.

Flamingos in the Isola delle Correnti
Flamingos in an ephemeral marshes
Margherita Montoneri

In Marzamemi the sun goes down towards the ground, but here it dips into the sea, splashing its colored beams on the sea surface.

On the way back, passing through the ephemeral marshes beside the road, it's not unusual to see groups of flamingos. Then you cross Portopalo, a white little village with a few thousand inhabitants which is boasted to be the most southern municipality of Italy. Portopalo flourished around its important Tonnara [Tuna Fishery], now unfortunately not visitable (but however deserving a stop and a peek through the bars, to glimpse the great furnace,  the warehouses, and even the remains of a 16th-century church, that embellish this important monument of industrial archeology, not valorized at all as it deserves).

Next to the Tuna Fishery unexpectedly appears a fairy tale castle, an unusual note in the Sicilian landscape: it's the Castle of Tafuri, commissioned by the Marquis of Belmonte in the early decades of the 1900's, and built in full Liberty style with material from the Isola delle Correnti. Now it's a luxury hotel, but this residence, with its crenelated tower, has lived a period of abandonment and of plunder, during which it was stripped of its  lavish sets.


Isola delle Correnti
1) The Lighthouse of the Isola delle correnti
2) Cave of Calafarina
3) Tonnara [Tuna fishery] of Portopalo
Andrea dell'Agnese

The road leading back to Marzamemi, with bends overlooking the sea and its glimpses on the Island of Capopassero and its Fort, is so scenic that it was the set of an Italian popular television series. I would suggest you follow it, because, at a certain point, you can see, on an uncrowded beach, the little that remains of the Cave of Calafarina. I don't know if it's still accessible, or if it was fenced. Anyway is it worth mentioning, because this cave brings with it not only stories of degradation and ruin, as well as many tales (of treasure hidden by widows of warlords defeated by the Normans,  or by beautiful Arabian princesses). Now, the gold of Calafarina is still hidden in the bowels of the earth, protected by souls of dead soldiers or by mysterious marine creatures, but its real treasures were the archeological remains brought to light by Paolo Orsi in the early 900. These findings testify that the cave was frequented since the Bronze Age. In the surrounding area, there are other caves, often into decay, while some could be yet to be discovered so that the shirt distance between Portopalo and Marzamemi might become a journey into natural wonders and mysteries of the history.

ScorciViews of the Isola delle Correnti
1) L'Isola delle Correnti, Ph. Margherita Montoneri 2) Castle of Tafuri, Ph. Mario Montoneri, anni '70 3) Sunset from the Isola delle Correnti, Ph. Margherita Montoneri


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The Isola delle Correnti [Island of Currents] is a military outpost now in disuse, with an old lighthouse and the house of the watchman and of his family, now in ruins and degradation, and a beautiful beach.

It's in the most southern point of the Sicily (excluding the archipelagos).  It can be reached by car from Pachino or from Portopalo di Capopassero.

From both these two villages, take the SP8 road, then turn toward the extreme southern tip of Sicily, taking the Cuffara road, and go down to the end.

Once at the end (a beach), continue on foot standing waist-deep, or by swimming toward the well visible island: the water is low.

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