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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 Harbour and, to the right an enormous factory right on the water’s 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.
Villa_Florio, 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 Ezio Bellomo


Panoramica del porto di Favignana








Photos by Antonio Noto and Elio Faraci Traslation: Lynne Vicinanza



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