Tuna fishing in FavignanA

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  • Tourist fishing
  • Favignana

05/01/2019 - 06/30/2019

In Sicily the tuna fishing and the consumption of its meat have ancient origins: the most productive tonnara of the Mediterranean was that of Favignana (called "the queen of the sea") with over 14 thousand tunas fished in 1865.

The key activity of the tonnara was the traditional rite called “mattanza ” (from the Spanish "matar" which means to kill) during which the tunas, that from May until  June came from the Atlantic along the Sicilian coasts, were killed. 

A tradition which embodies history and culture, unchanging practices and wisdom that has been handed down for generations. Little has changed since the time of the Phoenicians and Arabs, as the capture and killing  methods, also told by Homer, have remained the same over the centuries.

The "tonnaroti" (the fishermen team), under the guidance of the "raìs" (fishermen's team leader, who coordinates all stages of fisheries activities ) prepared the nets to be thrown into the sea, up to 5 km long.  The fishermen prayed  to St. Peter, protector of the tonnara and the propitiatory songs began. The raìs, at the stern of the "muciara" (from the Arabic "mucir"  which indicates the smallest boat of the tonnara), spoke to the sea and prayed it would be generous. The nets were arranged to form a path consisting of various "chambers" which captured the tunas, leading them to the narrowest and inner chamber, called  "death chamber". With quick and precise movements, trying not to get hit by their tails, the tonnaroti brought aboard the huge fish: then the dramatic spectacle of tuna carnage with harpoons began. In the final act of the fight between man and fish, the sea became red in color. 

Still active until the fifties of the last century, this thousand-year old tradition has returned to relive in recent years only for tourism purposes: the nets are lowered into the sea, but the caught fish are "gently" put back into the sea.