The town of Favignana
The first nucleus of the town was built
around the middle of the 17th century; this
part is called the S.
Anna district, where one can find the
most beautiful and the oldest buildings.
For at least 2,000 years prior to this period
the inhabitants lived in the grottoes. But
from 800 to 900 A.D., the Saracens built
defence towers on the island and some of
these were later enlarged into fortresses
by the Christians: they are called Fort_Santa_Caterina,
which dominates the island from the top
of the mountain of the same name, Saint
Giacomo, nowadays used as a prison, Saint
Leonardo, which was demolished to make space
for the harbour warehouses and Villa_Florio.
The Florio buildings. Before even leaving
the ferry visitors to Favignana are attracted
to the sight of two buildings: to the left
of the bay is a severe-looking, square
building that haughtily dominates the whole
and, to the right an enormous factory
right on the waters edge:
the former is Villa Florio and the latter
was the tonnara facility.
Favignana owes the prosperity it enjoyed
from the second half of the nineteenth century
up to WWII to the Florio family.
built around 1876 by the architect from
Palermo Giuseppe Damiani Almevda, with its
battlements and pinnacles, has no pretence
to beauty but without doubt emblematises
one of the most powerful families in Italy
in the 19th century as well as one of the
largest financial fortunes in Europe.
The Florios lived in the villa during the
tuna killing season and their lifestyle
was, to say the least, splendid but as far
as we know this did not disgust the inhabitants
of the island, rather it astonished them,
one could almost say they quite enjoyed
seeing this faintly vulgar display of wealth.
Their power declined and eventually the
family died out so the villa became the
property of the town municipality.
The Florio factory
was, without doubt, for the era in which
it was designed, one of the biggest and
most beautiful in all Europe; it housed
the complete tuna processing cycle and sardine
tinning. Today it remains an example of
the style of industrial building in the
19th century. A wharf equipped with tackle
for lifting and weighing the tuna fish,
warehouses for the nets and the building
that housed the offices
are annexed to the processing plant. There
is an internal garden, well
protected from the wind, where the Florios
planted exotic trees which, today, are stupendous
examples of their species.
Excerpt from the book Egadi Mare e Vita
edited by Mursia Editore
Photos by Antonio Noto , Elio Faraci and