There’s more to the tiny Aeolian island of Panarea than chic bars and fashionable shops, as we discovered when we took a walk between the town of San Pietro and Cala Junco via Punta Milazzese, where we found a remnants of a prehistoric village dating back to 1400 BC.
The tiny island of Panarea is just 2 kms wide and 3 kms long, with a single paved road and no cars (there’s electric golf-cart ‘taxis’ to get about). So it is the perfect place to go for a long walk and burn up some of the calories you may have consumed at Bar Raya the night before.
Heading south from the port town of San Pietro on the main road, takes you through all the pretty white-washed houses, and past the island’s church of San Pietro, which has an interesting mosaic on a spectacular terrace overlooking the sea.
The paved road stops when it meets the beach at Cala degli Zimmari, one of the most popular swimming spots on Panarea.
From the far end of the beach, a path climbs up the promontory opposite. This is Capo Milazzese (Cape Milazzese). The path is steep at times, and contains many steps, but is well maintained. It’s hot work on a warm day though.
As the promontory narrows and the path traverses its spine, there are spectacular views down into the bays either side. On the left is Cala del Moro and to the right, the famous Cala Junco, which we’ll descend to later in the walk.
Straight ahead, towards the end of the Cape is the site of the prehistoric settlement. The remains of several oval (and one rectangular) stone huts were excavated here in 1948, and it is likely the settlement once housed about 100 to 200 people. Archaeologists found pottery and other artifacts left as if the inhabitants had fled in a hurry with the settlement burning. It is likely that (as happened in many of these islands) an invading force attacked, probably bronze age heavies with their new-fangled metal tools.
With a seemingly never-ending history of attack and invasion in these parts, it is no wonder that the settlement was perched high above the water in a spot which would normally provide good sight-lines of any invaders and a reasonable chance of defending the only narrow approach. But obviously this failed at least once.
All that remains of the settlement now are the foundations of the stone structures, which are quite strikingly overgrown by a wide range of wildflowers and vegetation.
From this point, a path leads down to Cala Junco – which would possibly have been the approach local folks would have taken to and from the sea in ancient times too.
Cala Junco is a rocky bay sitting within a natural amphitheatre, created by basalt cliffs. This cove is widely claimed to be the most beautiful bay, not only of Panarea, but also of the whole Aeolian archipelago, mostly because of the crystal clarity of the water, which varies in colour from aquamarine to emerald green, turquoise and intense cobalt blue.
Apparently this bay can get quite crowded during the height of the summer season, but while we were there in late June, the only other visitors were a boatload of sailors who had a clothes-free approach to sailing. 🙂
The water looked incredibly inviting…and we were very hot after the walk…but as soon as we spotted all the jellyfish in the water, we put our ideas of taking a dip on hold.
Even without a swim, the walk was totally worth it for the views.
The detailsCala Junco and Punto Milazzese Walk
Length: 2.5 km one-way
Duration: About 40 mins one way without stopping to take lots of photos…
Directions: head south from San Pietro along the main road to Cala degli Zimmari. Cross the beach, then follow the signs for the walk up and over the promontory to Cala Junco.
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