The smaller sister in the Pelagie islands group is nothing like its more famous, more trodden sibling, Lampedusa. In contrast to Lampedusa's flat and barren appearance, Linosa is a hilly, green, and clean island practically untouched by tourism or the trappings of "progress" in the modern age.
Not only is nature on Linosa different from that of Lampedusa, so is its spirit. Linosa's proud residents (about 400 year-round) keep their pastel town tidy and wear their helmets when driving their scooters. It's a bit like a tiny Sicilian island version of Switzerland. The colorful, immaculately maintained cottages of Linosa's single town are a photographer's dream.
Whereas Lampedusa makes its non-tourist dollars from fishing, Linosa makes its off-season money from agriculture: Capers, lentils, figs, and grapes for wine are all grown in the fertile valley between the island's three extinct craters. The top of a 1,000m-tall (3,281-ft.) undersea volcanic mountain, Linosa was an important agricultural outpost of the southern Mediterranean throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages. Up until a few years ago, when a disease wiped out the prickly pear plants they fed upon, Linosa was renowned for its beef cattle.
Rich marine life and the striking undersea "architecture" of Linosa's basalt foundation makes this island popular with divers, but there are also some gorgeous seascapes above the waterline to attract swimmers and hikers. The water here, thanks to the basalt rock underneath, takes on the most unreal emerald tones. With an area of 5 sq. km (2 sq. miles) and perimeter of 11km (7 miles), Linosa is easy to explore on foot, but round-island boat tours can also be arranged.