Marine Protected Area
Among the 30 Marine Protected Areas
along the Italian coasts‚ the MPA
"Isola di Ustica
" boasts the title of the oldest Marine Protected Area
in Italy. It was‚ in fact‚ established by a decree dating back to 1986.
Ustica's surrounding waters are protected within the MPA‚ guarantying that they are kept sparkling and clean‚ resulting in and underwater
paradise of fish and coral
. In fact‚ the reserve is host to half of the marine species present in the Mediterranean Sea
‚ making it a biodiversity
hotspot. It is for these reasons that Ustica is also known as the diving capital of the Mediterranean
The MPA covers about 16000 hectares of sea that lie on a coastal strip of 14.5 km. Like most of the Italian MPAs‚ its surface is divided into three zones subjected to different regulations:Zone A
‚ an integral reserve area‚ which extends along the western coast of the island and within which there is an absolute prohibition of access‚ except for surveillance and scientific research activities and for bathing activities‚ restricted to the coves of Cala Sidoti and Cala Acquario.Zone B
‚ a general reserve area‚ which affects almost the entire northern part of Ustica.Zone C
‚ a partial reserve area‚ which includes the southern sector of the island. In the whole MPA of Ustica underwater
fishing is absolutely forbidden‚ while both in zone B and in zone C‚ artisanal fishing activities and recreational underwater activities are permitted‚ subject to authorization by the managing authority of the MPA. The seabed of the Ustica MPA‚ with the exception of a few bays and coves‚ is generally steep and quickly slopes down to high depths.
The infralittoral‚ that is the rocky habitat that extends from sea level up to about 40 meters deep‚ is characterized by wide meadows of seagrass (Posidonia Oceanica)‚ an endemic plant of the Mediterranean. Below 40 meters depth the coralligenous habitat begins‚ characterized by the presence of various types of gorgonias
and the false black coral
of the Mediterranean
(Savalia Savaglia). The fish fauna is extremely abundant and consists of numerous species. Those who dive
in the clear Usticesi waters have the opportunity to observe very large brown groupers
(Epinephelus Marginatus)‚ or to come across shoals of amberjack
(Seriola Dumerili) and barracuda
(Sphyraena spp.). These fish are accustomed to the presence of man and let themselves be approached by divers‚ offering them an unforgettable spectacle. Macro loving divers won’t be disappointed either‚ with the opportunity to encounter various types of nudibranch
‚ like flabellinidae‚ or the dotted sea slug (Discodoris atromaculata)‚ a variety of crabs‚ clams‚ octopuses
or for the extremely lucky ones even a seahorse
The small island of Ustica
is a nature filled volcanic outcrop surrounded by pristine clear blue waters
. The island‚ with its beautiful pure and untouched Mediterranean flora
is surely deserves a visit of all nature
along one of the many geological walking paths and enjoy unique panoramic views over vividly coloured crop fields and forest-covered hills framed by dazzling surrounding blues of the sea and sky.
Discover the many grottoes
hidden along the coastline of the island‚ where light plays and reflections illuminate the sea with azure‚ green and even gold‚ contrasting the island’s black‚ volcanic rock‚ while the calming sound of the water softly caressing the stone walls echoes along.
Explore what lies below the water surface while snorkelling
the Piscine Naturali‚ the “natural pool” formed in the rocks at the base of one of the lighthouses of Ustica. It is in connection with the open sea through an underwater
passage‚ used frequently by fish
from the open water that pay a visit to the pool.
For those who prefer to relax on the beach
in all tranquillity‚ the best spot is Cala Sidoti‚ a lovely cove with dark pebbles situated on the western side of the island.
While visiting this side of the island‚ one should absolutely not miss out on the enchanting sunsets
over the sea
‚ either in perfect harmony with the silence of nature or while drinking an excellent aperitivo with live music at the lighthouse.