Ustica, Province of Palermo, Sicily

Ustica is the name of a small island of volcanic origin, and also the name of the main center on the island. Located almost in the center of the Thyrrenian Sea, it has a circumference of 12 Km, and is situated 52 km north of Capo Gallo, Italy. Due to its isolation, it is a special ecosystem, and the home of the endemic species of honeybee Apis mellifera sicula, as well as a paradise of scuba diving. The island is one of the 20 Marine Reserves in Italy.


  • Surface area: 8.65 sq km
  • Population: about 1,300 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 90010
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 091
  • How to arrive: there is regular ferry service between the island and Palermo.


The island has been populated since about 1500 BC by Phoenician peoples. In ancient Greece, the Island was named Osteodes (ossuary) in memory of the thousands of Carthaginian mutineers left there to die of hunger in the 4th century BC. The Romans renamed the island Ustica, Latin for burnt, for its black rocks. In the 6th century, a Benedictine community settled in the island, but was soon forced to move because of ongoing wars between Europeans and Arabs. Attempts to colonize the island in the Middle Ages failed because of raids by pirates. Until the 1950s, Ustica was used as an island prison, though it is now a tourist attraction.

Where to stay