Lampedusa, Pelagie Islands

Photo: La Rosa dei Venti Club

The day starts with a quick swim before breakfast at La Rosa dei Venti. All you can hear is softly chirping birds among the cacti when you start swimming your laps. By the time you finish, a breakfast buffet and hot coffee have been set up in the adjacent stone building. You fix a plate and return to the terrace to dry in the sun. The hammocks and the sun loungers are still deserted this early.

After a quick shower in Sirocco, your wooden-beamed room named after winds that blow up from the Sahara, you head down to the port on your little scooter (use of it comes with your room). A boat is waiting for you and other guests from the hotel to arrive. When everyone has boarded, the captain pulls away from the dock and heads out into the clear water. The boat hugs the coastline, passing steep cliffs, hidden caves, and sandy coves along the way.

Eventually, the captain drops the anchor and yells “bagna.” It’s the signal that you’re free to jump into the warm water. A huge lunch spread—featuring tuna and mackerel, cassata and torta delizia, chilled wine and sweet passito—is on the table when you return. You spend the rest of the afternoon eating, drinking, and soaking up the warm sunshine. The best part is that you’ll do it all again tomorrow.

Photo: La Rosa dei Venti Club

That’s right. You get to spend seven hours on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea each day that you stay at La Rosa dei Venti. You’d want to stay at the club without this extra perk anyway. It sits on the highest point of Lampedusa and has a panoramic view of the island. Its position gives it a constant sea breeze. The buildings are made out of fired brick, stone, and wood, though it’s the outdoor living space by the pool where you spend most of your time. The food is all freshly caught and made with traditional recipes. The wine comes from nearby Sicily. While the owners treat you like family.

Lampedusa is the largest of the Pelagie Islands. The three little islands are governed by Sicily and are considered the southernmost part of Italy, even though they’re geographically part of Africa. Tunisia is only 70 miles to the south. Its location makes it the primary European entry point for African migrants. The number of people attempting to make the dangerous journey has substantially increased in the last few years.

You don’t see many signs of tension, though. You see Isola dei Conigli, one of only two beaches in the Mediterranean Sea where loggerhead sea turtles still lay their eggs. Rabbit Beach is also considered one of the best beaches in the world. You see Via Roma, the island’s main street, whose restaurants, bars, and shops are open late into the night. You see beautiful turquoise water in every direction. And you see a place far removed from the stress of everyday life. This is where you go to escape it all—and you can’t wait to return when summer arrives here in early May.

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