The location of the island of Ustica

Ustica is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea about 70 km north of the city of Palermo in Italy.


Ustica has a surface area of 8.1 km² and has about 1300 inhabitants. Administratively it is part of the province of Palermo on Sicily. The island was created as a result of undersea volcanic eruptions, the last eruption being about 150,000 years ago, and is an open air museum for lovers of vulcanology.

The slow and steady impact of the sea on the coast has shaped irregularly inlets, coves and caves. In 1986 the area around the island was proclaimed as a marine reserve (Italian: Area Marina Protetta Isola di Ustica) to protect the rich marine flora and fauna. The rugged coast; the deep, very clear waters; the presence of a large variety of fish all make the island very attractive for diving. That’s the main reason that thousands of tourists visit this island every year.


The first human settlements date back to the Palaeolithic era. Graves, tunnels and underwater archaeological findings indicate a constant presence of several ancient Mediterranean peoples, like Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans. For a long time Ustica was the base of Saracen pirates. In the sixth century a Benedictine community settled on the island but was soon forced to move by frequent looting and the threat of war between Christians and Muslims. In the Middle Ages, because of the raids of Barbary pirates who made the island their shelter, attempts to colonize the island failed. In 1759 Ferdinand IV of Bourbon finally colonized the island. Ustica was a place of exile for political prisoners and remained so until the reign of the House of Savoy. During the fascist regime in the early 20th century, Ustica became a place of exile again. In 1961 this system was abolished and subsequently the island's tourism potential has been gradually realised.

Flora and fauna

On land, water is scarce. There is little arable land in the old fields that are surrounded by hedges of prickly pears. There are vineyards and olive, almond and fruit trees. The uncultivated vegetation consists of wormwood (Artemisia arborea), mastic trees (Pistacia lentiscus) and gorse (Ginestra). Swallows are very common, and there are quail, doves, woodcocks, thrushes and larks. More rarely, cranes and plovers can be seen. The honeybee (Apis mellifera) common.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 13 13 14 16 20 22 28 28 25 21 17 14
Nightly lows (°C) 9 9 9 11 14 18 21 22 20 17 13 10
Sea (°C) 12 13 17 17 19 21 24 26 25 22 19 14

check Ustica's 7 day forecast at

There is an annual average of 505 mm of precipitation with a minimum in summer and a peak in the autumn-winter. The average annual relative humidity is 78.2% with a minimum of 74% in July and a maximum of 82% in January. On average there are 18 foggy days per year. The table below summarizes the average monthly temperatures.

Get in

By boat

Get around

The island's public transport consists of one minibus. More information can be found on the website of the municipality of Ustica (only in Italian language).










Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 31, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.