We have a new favourite Italian island: Pantelleria, a sun-baked volcanic isle off the Sicilian coast.
We must admit, we’d never heard of it before A Bigger Splash, a new psychological thriller starring Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson that’s been garnering glowing reviews. Swinton plays a rock star whose holiday with her boyfriend is interrupted by the arrival of her ex – Ralph Fiennes as narcissist record producer Harry with daughter in tow.
It’s a remake of the 1969 film La Piscine, but the action has been transplanted from the south of France to this stunning Sicilian island. Fiennes and Swinton aren’t the first Hollywood darlings to pad its shores and admire the sparkling vista. Pantelleria has long been a favourite retreat for those in the known and Truman Capote, Sting and Giorgio Armani were all regulars.
Here’s why you should follow in their footsteps…
The island’s most famous sight is the “Elephant”, a rock formation that resembles – yes, you guessed it – a certain large animal drinking from the sea with its trunk. In the film, it’s within the villa. Lucky them.
Laghetto delle Ondine
Down a cliff path in the area of Punta Spadillo lies the Laghetto delle Ondine, a natural swimming pool carved out of the lava landscape where Paul (Schoenaerts) and Penelope (Johnson) find themselves alone together.
Matthias Schoenaerts and Tilda Swinton enjoy the view
The villa where the four characters stay is one of Pantelleria’s most stunning and exclusive resorts. Built from local lava stone, its seven ancient “dammusi” (the island’s typical dwellings) are surrounded by 12 hectares of olive and fruit trees, pools, palm groves and pine woods.
The lake where lovers Marianne (Swinton) and Paul (Schoenaerts) take a dip at the start of the film is Pantelleria’s best known thermal spring. It’s named after the legend that Venus stopped here to admire her beauty. Filling the crater of an extinguished volcano, its bubbling waters and mud are supposed to be good for the skin.
Finally, the feast of San Gaetano and Harry (Fiennes) and Marianne’s impromptu performance in a karaoke bar were filmed in the tiny whitewashed village of Scauri.
Explore Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, Monreale’s medieval cathedral, the beautiful hilltop village of Taormina, Palermo, Europe’s largest active volcano Mount Etna and much more. Experienced tour managers will guide you round all of the island’s stunning sights. Click here for more details.