Isola dei Conigli
The island of the Rabbits is an Italian island belonging to the archipelago of the Pelagie islands, in Sicily.
The islet, just 4.4 hectares, is located within a bay chosen by TripAdvisor users, as part of the Travelers’ Choice Awards, the most beautiful beach in the world in 2013, in Europe and in Italy in 2014 and 2015.
The island is very close to the coast, so much so that it has rarely been joined to it through an extemporaneous sandy isthmus of 30 meters in length. This is a rare event (the last time in 2008), due to the wave and low tide, but it is normally possible to stop in that area of the bay without ever plunging into the water, since the depth varies from 30 to 150 cm.
In the first nautical map found, dated 1824 and written by Captain Smith, the area is called “Rabit Island”, referring to the isthmus connecting the islet to the coast: rabit in Arabic means in fact a link, which connects. Or very likely a typographical error the word rabbit was printed with only one b. With good probability in subsequent maps this toponym has been improperly reported and then translated from English rabbit instead of Arabic.
According to others, the name derives from a colony of rabbits installed on the island during one of the recurring formations of the sandy isthmus. The colony would then be extinct with the disappearance of the land connection.
The entire bay of the Isola dei Conigli is part of the Lampedusa Island nature reserve and is therefore heavily protected. It can be accessed only during the day, from 08:30 to 19:30, in order to safeguard the nesting of sea turtles (which usually happens at night, in fact). Since 1995 the entire area is entrusted to the management of Legambiente which every year activates the volunteer camps to select the staff that will supervise the beach during the summer season.
The islet is low, with a maximum height of 26 meters, and completely rocky. The flora and fauna are very similar to those of the North African coast; the beach adjacent to the islet is one of the few areas where Caretta turtles lay their eggs. It is also an important stopping point for migratory birds that make stops in April and September and the only area (besides in the African areas from which it comes) in which lives a particular species of lizard, the Psammodromus algirus.