Marettimo (Sicilian: Marrètimu) is one of the Aegadian Islands in the Mediterranean Sea west of Sicily, Italy. It forms a part of the municipality (comune) of Favignana in the Province of Trapani. From Trapani, it takes about an hour to reach the island.
Marettimo is the second largest of the Aegadian Islands. The highest point is Monte Falcone with a height of 686 m (2,251 ft). The island has about 300 inhabitants in the winter and 700 in the summer (not including tourists), who mainly live from fishing, tourism and traditional handcrafts. Fishing is predominately conducted in the summer months.
The ancient name of the island was Hiera, part of the Greek name Hierà Nèsos (Ιερά Νήσος), which means "Sacred Island" in Greek. Indeed, its Latin name used by Pliny was also "Sacra". The name Marettimo probably comes from the words mar (sea) and timo (thyme) due to the profusion of thyme on the island. However, it may stem from a local pronunciation of the word "maritimo".
The island was an important observation point during Roman times, hence the Casa Romana, where it was easy to observe passing maritime traffic. The sea routes between Italy and North Africa and Italy and Spain (via Sardinia) would pass Marettimo.
Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi (1099–1165 or 1166), the Moroccan Muslim geographer, cartographer, Egyptologist and traveller who lived in Sicily at the court of King Roger II, mentioned this island, naming it وجزيرة مليطمة (the island of Malitima) on page 583 of his book Nuzhat al mushtaq fi ihtiraq ghal afaq, otherwise known as The Book of Roger, considered a geographic encyclopaedia of the medieval world.
There is a well restored Byzantine-Norman church adjacent to the Casa Romana. There are several impressive grottos around the island's coast and innumerable spots for excellent swimming in pristine waters on the western coast accessible only by boat.
Flora and fauna
The island is home to about 500 plant species, many of them indigenous and very rare, among the most endangered being Bupleurum dianthifolium, Brassica macrocarpa, Scilla hughii and Thymus richardii subsp. nitidus; the last was chemically investigated.
There is a sizeable population of donkeys and horses on the island. There are wild goats, rabbits, eagles, falcons and plenty of screeching gulls.
- "Frammenti per la Storia dell'Isola di Marettimo", Il Giornale delle Egadi, December 1998. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- Ammar Bader, Guido Flamini, Pier Luigi Cioni and Ivano Morelli, Journal of Essential Oils Research, Vol 13 pp.8-10