ancient Greek name of the island, mentioned by Polybius, was Hierà Nésos,
meaning "Sacred Island". The current name probably derives from
the Latin name for the island "Marìtima" which already appears
in the Itinerary of Antoninus I [second century AD]. Some scholars suggest that
the origin of the name is to be found in the abundant presence of wild thyme (in
Italian - timo). This is not the only species of herb that grows wild on the island
- its special climate has contributed to the development of a unique flora.
ancient peoples of this small area of the Mediterranean (Phoenicians, Elymians,
and Sicanians) attributed a sacred nature to this island which can still be felt
today. According to the Trapanese theory of the Odyssey (born from the works of
Butler and continued by other scholars, including some contemporary scholars,
such as Girolama Sansone Virgilio), Marettimo geographically overlaps with Ithaca,
the homeland of Odysseus. It would seem that it was the same hero who indicated
Several authors cite Hierà as the place where the
peace treaty between the Romans and Punics- Carthaginians was signed after the
dramatic Battle of the Egadi Islands on the 10th of March 241 BC, which saw Hamilcar
Barca and his ships defeated by the Roman warships which were equipped with ram
bows and were captained by Lutazio Catulo.
Punta Troia Castle, built in
the Norman period (about 1140) on the ruins of a pre-existing tower, was later
used as a prison. In the Bourbon period Guglielmo Pepe was imprisoned within its
narrow and dark cells.
became detached from the mainland several millennia before the other two islands
of the archipelago. The result is that there are many endemic plants such as the
Egadi cabbage and the 'finocchiella di Boccone', a shrub that grows on rocks around
the semaphore tower. Noteworthy are several caves, accessible only by sea; the
karstic phenomena and the seabed, some of which is part of the natural reserve
of the Egadi.
The highest point of the island is Mount Falcon (686 m). The
island is crossed by several paths.