Pantelleria in August is stratospheric -- in terms of both temperature and expense. Yes, you want it to be warm when you're here, but considering the sparse and low vegetation and the black rock underfoot, "sweltering summer" takes on a whole new meaning on this island. Being this close to Africa, Pantelleria has very long shoulder seasons (Apr to mid-June and mid-Sept to Nov) of warm weather in which the pursuits of swimming and sunning are perfectly feasible. Prices in August are also nearly double the normal rate for lodging, car rentals, and boat tours. Dammusi that rent for thousands of euros per week in August become much more affordable in the spring and fall seasons, too. Pantelleria may have a reputation for exclusiveness, but a vacation here doesn't have to set you back thousands if you're smart about trip timing and can forgo the ultra-luxury accommodations.
Pantelleria is most commonly and conveniently reached by air, though flights here are fairly expensive. The island's airport is served by many Italian airports, but the most frequent connections are from the Sicilian airports of Palermo and Trapani, on Meridiana (tel. 0871/2229319 outside Italy or tel. 892928 within Italy; www.meridiana.it), which is the only airline offering year-round service to Pantelleria. Fares for the 45-minute flight are normally 125€ round-trip regardless of season. From late May to late September, there are nonstop charter flights to Pantelleria (operated by Alitalia and AirOne, but book through Agenzia La Cossira; tel. 0923/911078 or 0923/913629; www.lacossira.it) from Rome, Milan, Venice, Bologna, and Verona (from 300€ round-trip).
You can also get to Pantelleria by sea from the western Sicilian port of Trapani. Siremar (in Trapani, Molo Sanità; tel. 0923/24968; www.siremar.it) runs ferries (4 hr., 45 min.; 34€ one-way) from Trapani to the island year-round. In Pantelleria, Siremar has an office at Via Borgo Italia 22 (tel. 0923/911120). Traghetti delle Isole (in Trapani at Via Ammiraglio Staiti 13; tel. 0923/21754 or 0923/22467; in Pantelleria at Agenzia Marittima Adriano Minardi, tel. 333/2875261; www.traghettidelleisole.it) also operates a daily ferry to and from Trapani; the journey takes from 6 to 7 hours.
Your own transport is essential on Pantelleria. Due to the steep and rough roads, not to mention constant sun and wind exposure and lack of nighttime road illumination, a rental car is a better idea than a scooter. Book one -- the official car of Pantelleria seems to be a boxy, early-'90s Fiat Panda, preferably in pistachio green -- at Policardo, Via Messina 31, Pantelleria Town (tel. 0923/912844). In August, rates are 55€ to 70€ per day, but only 35€ to 44€ the rest of the year, with more favorable rates for full-week rentals. Policardo also rents quads and scooters. Taxis can be called at tel. 0923/912716, tel. 338/6116825, or tel. 380/4687576. The island also has a limited and unreliable bus service, with all lines departing from Piazza Cavour in Pantelleria town. In theory, the buses serve much of the island, but I wouldn't want to depend on a Pantelleria public bus for my ride home in the afternoon heat of summer.
The Pro Loco is at Piazza Cavour in Pantelleria town (tel. 0923/911838; Apr-Oct daily 9am-1pm and 5-8pm).
The carabinieri (police) are at Via Trieste 13 (tel. 0923/911109). There's an Internet point at Via Dante 7 (tel. 0923/911367; daily 9am-2pm and 4:30-9:30pm); if you have your own laptop, there's free Wi-Fi at Cicci's Bar. The Banca Nuova on Via Catania (tel. 0923/912732) has an ATM, and there are several other banks with ATMs in town. For medical care, the hospital is at Piazzale Almanza 21 (tel. 0923/911110), though this is a very backwater facility only recommended for minor injuries; serious cases are transported by helicopter to Trapani. The main pharmacy, Farmacia Greco, is on Piazza Cavour 28 (tel. 0923/911310). The post office is at Via Verdi 2 (tel. 0923/695232; Mon-Fri 8am-1:30pm, Sat 8am-12:30pm).