I Love Ustica

Path of the South

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The route starts from S. Maria Tower, twin of Spalmatore Tower and built by the Bourbons between 1763 and 1767; they were armed with three cannons each to defend the island from pirates.
The have a squared base, are 30 m height, and are provided with slits and dungeons.
The brickwork, above a base, is shoe shaped and made with two different construction systems: in order to ensure a greater resistance to the building, the corners are made with tuff cut in rectangular shape and carefully overlaid; in the areas between these tuff buttresses, to save on materials and labor, the masonry was created as a "sack" instead, to save on materials and labors. This was achieved by constructing two parallel walls with shapeless stones, bonded with lime mortar, and bridging the gap between these two walls with other smaller stones, bounded with mortar or earth.

Originally, the entrance to the first floor was through a drawbridge. A chimney came out from the terrace, which was also used for smoke signals and for the sentry that allowed the guards to control the horizon. Inside, on both floors, a central corridor with windows at the ends allows access to four rooms. The first floor was normally used as a kitchen, and food and ammunitions storage; in the second floor there were dormitories and a duct to report possible attacks with smoke signals. After a period of neglect, the tower was restored in 1972 to house the Archaeological Museum, now transferred to the new premises of the "Fosso" (translated, "Ditch").

Once discontinued the defense function against pirates, the tower was used as a prison until the years before the war. The monument, located at the center of the adjacent house, was built with the prisons (meshes, air vents, basement windows, chains and handcuffs) and erected in 1972 in memory of this sad destination.

Right from this villa, overtaking the pink house that you can see when your back is facing the tower, the old mule track begins and will lead you to the entire route. The first section, cobble-stoned, will lead you up to the area of sports fields and on the left you'll see the old "Windmill", entirely white. Continuing and overtaking the Windmill, the trail takes on the appearance of dirt track, and turns downhill on the right. At this point, the path clearly separates the flat area of the Piano Cardoni (on the right hand side) from the craggy and steep zone that reaches the sea. These are two zones with different geo-morphological characteristics: the upstream plain zone is punctuated by dry-stone walls, which divide the lands; the coastal zone instead, on a steep slope, it was once much cultivated and is now reforested and rich in vegetation.

Continuing and admiring a breathtaking view, you get to Cala San Paolo. Just before the coast you can see the Punta dell'Arco (Tip of the Arc), preceded by the Grotta delle Barche (Cave of the Boats). A path leads to a small and unique house, built in the 60s, in a cave connected to the Cave of the Boats.
Going beyond the steps of the Hotel Diana you will arrive at the head of the promontory of Punta San Paolo, which closes the bay. Here, right at the top, there are the remains of a lookout post of the eighteenth century: one of the largest and fully equipped of the island. A diversion allows you to get closer to the remains of the sentry box, to discover a glimpse of the extraordinary beauty on the beautiful Cala San Paolo. With particular attention you can see the superficial signs of a fault (Spaccazza San Paolo), a deep fissure that falls from the tip of the promontory to the bottom of the sea. This point is attractive destination for scuba divers.

Going further, the trail continues between lava rocks and dense Mediterranean vegetation until Punta Galera (Galley Tip), a tongue of rock that extends to the sea like the prow of an old ship, a "galley" indeed. And then it continues until Punta Sireta (Secret Tip). In this site, along the coast, there is the Grotta Verde (Green Cave) or "Sireta", which is among the most beautiful on the island, for its emerald reflections that appear just after the low entrance.

From here on, passing Punta Arpa, the track merges with vegetation and becomes uncertain, in spite the fact that once it was one of the busiest routes. It was used by the guards in the eighteenth century, who had the task of spotting pirate ships. During more modern times (till the early postwar years) it was used by the farmers, who carried the harvest of the surrounding lands riding donkeys.
Continuing for a few minutes, the trail will lead you straight to the Natural Pool ("Azzuffa") and, immediately afterwards, at the lighthouse in Punta Gavazzi.




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