Favignana: the Butterfly Island

Photographer David Spero Roams the Untouched Retreat

The island of Favignana is a travel insider’s secret—the stop-off point of choice for Italian fashion producers and film in the summer months during their downtime from Ibiza. Along its ragged coastline, visitors can bathe in crystal clear waters at the Cala Azzurra or Lido Burrone beaches, or explore the labyrinthine caves on the island’s west coast where the Montagna Grossa (a 302m peak) meets the sea. But the island, called La Farfalla (the butterfly) by locals because of its shape from above, is far from your typical tourist trap, despite its idyllic setting. In fact, the homogenizing influence of the travel industry seems to have skipped over the rough, flat expanse of Favignana—hardly a surprise when you consider that it’s small enough to journey from one end to the other by scooter in under an hour. Unusual dwellings with outdoor kitchens point to the unchanged local lifestyle; the many empty quarries of the east coast (some bedraggled, some kept as hushed private garden spaces) are reached via uneven, hand-built stone staircases; and the once-bustling tuna fishery (previously central to the island’s economy) lies empty. It’s a refreshingly authentic experience, which we present here through the lens of artist-photographer David Spero, whose off-kilter shots of landscapes, architecture and interiors—from unconsecrated urban churches to shadowy, empty boardrooms—have been exhibited at London's V&A Museum and Tate Britain.

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