A Guide To Pantelleria – Armani’s Style
Walk It Off – Armani hikes a mile and a quarter every day, starting from his home at 7 a.m. with his personal trainer and heading down any of the trails that run along the northwest section of the island, such as Cala Cinque Denti or Cala Cottone, which leads to the lighthouse. One of his favorites is the Sentiero Romano, “a road traveled by the ancient Romans and a hike I really enjoy,” he says. Along the way, he picks wildflowers and brings them back home.
Dive In – “A rock in the middle of the sea,” as Armani describes it, Pantelleria doesn’t have classic sandy beaches to lie on. But there are gorgeous swimming spots, including Balata dei Turchi bay, on the southern tip; Martingana, in the southeast; and Khattibuale to the north, where you can sunbathe on shiny black volcanic slabs. To get out on the water, hire a boat along the lungomare, in the harbor of Pantelleria Centro, and sail past the cove of Cala Levante to a spectacular stone arch called L’Arco dell’Elefante, which you can backstroke under. For a therapeutic soak, visit the natural thermal baths at the end of the path to the inlet of Gadir.
Take a Mud Bath – Lago di Venere, in the north of the island, is a crystal-clear brackish lake formed in a volcanic crater. The 39-foot-deep lake has thermal waters and natural mud baths and is part of a nature preserve where you’ll also find running trails. Armani recommends slathering yourself in mud on the far southern end of the lake, where hot water comes bubbling up, and then lying in the sun to let it dry.
Grab a Granita – To abstain from a gelso granita, made from the island’s fresh mulberries, would be a cardinal sin. Armani likes to get his from Bar Aurora, in Pantelleria’s main port, each time he hops on and off his boat.
Pick Up a Pie – The best pizzeria on the island—La Portella, in Tracino—won’t win any beauty contests, but the plastic chairs don’t deter Armani. La Portella’s chefs make 89 varieties of pizza, including local specialty Pantesca (tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, onions, olives, and capers). And yet, true to form, Armani keeps it simple: “I always order the Margherita or the Napoli without cheese, extra crispy.” Side note: During the summer, there’s often live music out front.
Drink Before the Sun Goes Down – A wine bar and restaurant set in the middle of the Coste Ghirlanda vineyards, L’Officina di Coste Ghirlanda is one of the best-looking joints on the island. (It’s called the Coste Ghirlanda Wine Laboratory in English, but everyone on Pantelleria refers to it by its Italian name.) It’s truly a summer spot (open only from June through mid-September), and Armani likes to go “around 6 p.m. to have happy hour and to enjoy the sunset.” He prefers the corner table on the wooden deck surrounded by grapevines. You’ll want to stay for dinner once the stars appear and the candles are lit, and plan on picking up a few souvenirs—they sell their own wine, olive oil, pate, and pesto.
Eat with the Locals – Osteria il Principe e il Pirata, in Punta Karace, is a traditional trattoria with wooden chairs, local wines, and an outstanding location looking out to sea. “I like having dinner here, both for the menu, which is typical of the island, and for the beautiful view that you can enjoy comfortably sitting at its tables,” says Armani. Try the ravioli with ricotta and mint, the stuffed zucchini, or the catch of the day served with potatoes, olives, and capers.
Where to Stay – There are few hotels on the island; most people rent dammusi through Club Levante or stay at the Pantelleria Dream Resort. But this July, the owners of L’Officina di Coste Ghirlanda opened the island’s first boutique hotel, Sikelia Luxury Retreat, in the southwestern village of Rekhale. Here, you’ll find 20 modern suites within a collection of ancient dammusi, and a walled garden where you can have a massage under the palm trees. The on-site restaurant, Thema, serves Pantellerian specialties including fish couscous, caponata, and potato salad with cherry tomatoes and capers.