Favignana -- the port town where all boat traffic arrives -- is the island's only town. You'll see the elegant pink Palazzo Florio when you sail into harbor. It was built by the wealthy Florio family in 1876 as a tuna-season residence. The palazzo and gardens are now headquarters of the Egadi Islands Area Marina Protetta (protected marine area), but you can have a peek at the ground floor and courtyard. Patriarch and island benefactor Ignazio Florio (of whom there is a statue in town) was and is beloved by the Favignanesi, while his son Vincenzo, who cared more about automobile racing than tuna fishing and ruined the business, is not quite as well regarded. The other Florio relic on Favignana is the Ex Tonnara Florio, or tuna processing plant and cannery, at water's edge on the west side of the marina. After a long period of decay and abandonment, the plant was restored and reopened to the public as a cultural center. The imposing building, with its noble arches and vaults, is an excellent example of 19th-century industrial archaeology.
Making your way from the port area into the heart of Favignana town, you'll quickly arrive at the main square, Piazza Madrice. This handsome plaza, paved with patinated pietra di Favignana, is lined with lively cafes and a pretty church, the 18th-century Chiesa Matrice. In the evening, everyone on Favignana comes to Piazza Madrice and nearby Piazza Europa for an aperitivo, dinner, or gelato.
West of Favignana town is the island's highest point, Monte Santa Caterina (314m/1,030 ft.), which has an old fortress at its peak. The fort, which was originally a 9th-century pirate watchtower, was enlarged by the Normans in the 12th century and later the Bourbons in the late 1700s. Now a military zone, it is off-limits to the public.
The Tufa Quarries
Beyond the roadside walls of eastern Favignana, the ground often plummets down to gaping cavities that were once tufa quarries, odd and wonderful landscapes of sheer walls that bear the score marks of rock-extraction. Many have now been converted into gardens, vineyards, or hotels. In other places, the scars of quarrying are at street or sea level: Once-massive outcrops of tufa are now reduced to evocative adventure-movie sets of trapezoidal cave entrances and lush vegetation. Along the water near Cala Rossa, a sort of Manhattan of tufa-pilaster creates an amazing "skyscraper" effect.
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