The Caves are an important testimony of the Aegadian Islands’ history.
The north-east part of Favignana is characterised by a high presence of tuff rocks showing a series of quarries, caves and sinkholes. The extraction of tuff along with fishing and agriculture was the most important commercial activities for the population over the centuries. This activity has ancient origins dating back to the Roman domination. Later, the Arabs called these caves: “The Mafia”. Tourists can find a number of these historical quarries near the beautiful beach of Cala Rossa.
The quarry workers (Cavatori) dug out the rock obtaining perfectly squared tuff blocks with various dimensions such as 25 X 50 cm, 20 x 40 cm and 25 x 25 cm. They were being paid according to the amount of blocks delivered, so they would often work from dawn to dusk.
The instruments used to extract these blocks of tuff were the “Mannara”, which was used to carve the rock, and the “Zappune” and “Piccune”, which were used to extract the blocks. Thanks to the high quality of this material, a lot of buildings of Tunis were built using the tuff from Favignana, along with many from Messina which were rebuilt after the 1908 earthquake.
Today Favignana has begun the construction of the Cave Museum which is a project created to promote and preserve the history of these quarries, the “Pirriaturi” and their ancient instruments.