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The history of Pantelleria

5000 years in a small summary

The history of Pantelleria

The first reliable evidence of human presence on the island date back to the Neolithic: the case of a sample of Pantelleria obsidian tools (found in Sicily, Tunisia, Italy and Southern France) as well as evidence of workshops and stone tools, found on the island between the Arenella areas and Salto La Vecchia, who seem to be inherent in an indigenous context sedentary or activities related to imports of raw materials (obsidian and chalcedony) from neighboring north African and Sicilian shores.

However, the first traces of a building bush settlement, are let on Cala Alga (including Cimillia and Mursìa) from a civilization dating back to the late Bronze Age, between the eighteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth century BC: it is a village protected by a massive city wall; outside the walls stretched the city of the dead, marked by a hundred burial mounds in lava round-shaped stone, called Sesi, in which the dead were buried with their sepulchral kit within sepulchral cells of circular plan; a rough stone wall then sealed the tomb, obstructing the access tunnel to the narrow opening.


There followed a period in which the island would seem to be falling into neglect, until the arrival of the Phoenicians (the mid-eighth century BC), which v'insediarono a rich community accustomed to trade and also devoted to agriculture. The introduction of the cultivation of the vine sapling and intensification of agricultural production was undertaken thanks to the construction of underground cisterns to collect rainwater, often survived and in use to this day.

Are important legacies of this people the Acropolis San Marco and Santa Teresa and the findings of a rich collection of local minting coins, the island's prosperity witnesses (at the time called Yrnm) and its political autonomy (albeit at 'shadow of Carthage), which Rome will end between 255 BC and 217 B.C., at the hands of the consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus.

Since then Cossyra (this is the Roman name for the island) had its heyday evidenced by recent findings from the three precious marble head depicting Julius Caesar, Antonia Minor and Tito, who had to decorate a rich Pantheon housed on the top of Santa Teresa within the sacred. Followed by the progressive abandonment of the site and surroundings of the town in favor of the city center so the inevitable decline under the pressure of barbarian invasions.

In 439, after the capture of Carthage and the final expulsion of the Romans from the Maghreb, Pantelleria will become a land of conquest for the Vandals that v'insedieranno a small but active community of which we find evidence in the locality Scauri-Scalo: the remains of a conurbation with factories, places of worship and burial, and the wreck of a merchant ship sank a few meters from the shore with its cargo of ceramics and the navigation kit.

 Around the middle of the fourth century Cossyra passes under the Byzantine rule soon challenged by the roller Arab compressor. The plan of the castle, repeatedly razed and rebuilt in the Norman period, the ruins of the monastery of San Basilio in Zubebi and sarcophagi carved into the rock in various locations on the island, are a testimony to them; likely that the current name of the island was their legacy (from the greek "Patelareas - ie" pot, frying pan, "probably to the clay in Pantellerian Ware, produced at that time on the island).

In 700 the Arabs put Pantelleria on fire, killing the Christian population almost to reset it, and creating a climate of instability destined to last until the final conquest dell'835. Since that time the dominant element will be Muslim, coming mostly from North Africa and Berber strain, which will establish (prior collection of a toll on the "quiet life") a peaceful coexistence with what was left of pre-existing Christian communities, Jewish and greek-orthodox, finally ceased in 1492, with the Christianization imposed by the Spaniards; so much so that even in the Swabian period, Christians and Muslims enjoyed separate jurisdictions, administered by the one and the other strain prefects appointed by the King of Sicily. Newcomers nevertheless ensure stability and prosperity reviving agriculture until it became the main economic activity of the island thanks to the introduction of new crops such as cotton.

In 1087 the maritime republics of the Mediterranean join forces to oust the Muslims from Christian lands, and in 1123 the Normans landed at Pantelleria building the castle (mistakenly called "Barbican") and putting an end to the hegemony Muslim; followed Swabians and Angevins and, after the expulsion of the latter as a result of the Sicilian Vespers, the Aragonese, then ebbed in the Kingdom of Spain in 1412.

It will own the Aragonese in 1361 to introduce feudalism with a first bracket Genovese (in favor of Doria and Emanuele Giovanni Barnabò San Lazzaro Squarciafico), the next fief to Francesco de Belvis (falconer of King Alfonso the Magnanimous) and the final transition to Requiesenz, prior deed of sale.

From 1550 to 1556 Pantelleria was the subject of a chain of French raids, Turkish and Barbary, the last of which, by the Turks, he was reduced to rubble the entire village, slaughtering and deporting almost all of the population: entire families disappeared Pantelleria forever, swallowed by the abyss of an unprecedented tragedy.

As a result of such devastation and atrocities, in 1574, the Spaniards sent to defend the island's captain-at-arms Andrea Di Rosales with a large harvest of reinforcements, which entrusted the restoration of the Castle (expanded with the construction of a bastion artillery) and of the walls, and the same pantesca community of which assumed the government. With the cessation of the aggression in style thus he began the pax Spanish who introduced a fair and benevolent government.

After a first sortie of Savoy (who in 1713 obtained the Kingdom of Sicily, thanks to the results of the War of Spanish Succession) and an equally short Austrian rule (1720-1734), with the advent of the Bourbons will restart the economy island starting from agriculture, thanks to the dissolution of feudal rights; Pantelleria also becomes one of the military ports of the kingdom.

In 1860 Pantelleria was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy by living too, like the rest of the South, a parenthesis of banditry which ended Colonel Eberhard September 19, 1863 with 500 soldiers and 400 militiamen Pantelleria.

The rest of the history of the island belongs to the recent history of Italy.

In the last century it should be noted the role and strategic importance of the island has had during World War II. Behind the conflict Pantelleria lived a beautiful but short season full of important achievements, from roads to the port (left unfinished by the outbreak of the conflict) airport complete with a hangar, so was leveled an entire hill and were sacrificed hundreds of hectares of vineyards.

This brief period of infrastructure growth came to an end on May 8, 1943, when the Anglo-Americans attacked the island from the sky and from the sea by subjecting it to the first bombing in history carpet: between 6 and 11 June were dropped 5.000 tons of bombs (for a total of 20,000) in particular on the airport, while the city center, only partially affected by the war, was almost completely torn off and destroyed for the purpose of shooting propaganda; This happened at the time of surrender after 35 days of siege virtually unchallenged.

The post-war reconstruction brings us in a flash the news of recent days; 70s Pantelleria developing alongside agricultural activities, always prevalent, a growing tourist attraction. Also thanks to the conversion and use for military civilian airport, the last two decades the island is looking to the future in improving the lodging industry, maintaining a particular focus on the protection of the natural, historical and cultural. In 2009 they kicked off the work of expansion and modernization of the airport in a few years aimed at making the island receptive internationally. It is hoped that this may facilitate the future and the growth of a tourist island with extraordinary potential to do.