Island of Ustica
If it was possible to see
through the South Tyrrhenian Sea, you would find an imposing mountain range originating
from the Central Tyrrhenian plain at a depth of 3000m rising above the surface of the sea
as small rocky islands. These islands, geographical spots that mark this stretch of the
sea, are the peaks of huge underwater mountains of volcanic origin.
|Known as the "Black Pearl of the Mediterranean" because of its lava rocks, Ustica is 67 km North of Palermo. It was called Ustica by ancient geologists and historians, as it is the remnants of a burnt out Volcano ("Ustum" in Latin means "burnt out"). It was also called Osteodos by the Greeks, meaning "cemetary" because of the human remains of Carthaginian mercenaries, who after they mutinied, were deported to Ustica and left to starve to death.|
The first human presence goes back to the
Paleothic era. Some major excavations have revealed an interesting Palaecrystian village.
Graves, tunnels, reservoirs dug out in soft volcanic rock known as tufo, and many
archaeological findings have been discovered in various sites on the island and from
underwater shipwrecks, confirming that the island was once inhabited by ancient
Ustica was a strategic cross roads for trade, used by the Phoenix, Cartaginese and Romans, and was then conquered by the Saracens. However, it was the Bourbons who established the basis for a todays small and peaceful community of about 1,200 people. They also built two observations points, which are now used as an archaeological museum and the offices of the Natural Marine Park.