Favignana is the largest and most important of the Egadi Islands, three islands off the western coast of Sicily. Favignana has good, frequent ferry connections with the other islands and with Trapani; the proximity of Trapani Airport makes the island remarkably accessible from the rest of Europe. This easy access hasn't - yet - spoiled the island, which is a fairly low-key destination most visited by Italian holiday-makers. Although there are tourist amenities, the island's character seems little-altered, and travellers who come here are happy to fit in with the leisurely island way of life. One of the charms of the Egadi Islands is that they have never been populated with villas of the rich, nor frequented by the showy, and no out-of-character attractions have been developed for tourists, so compared with the crowded tourist islands of Capri and Ischia, and the chic atmosphere of some of the Aeolian Islands, Favignana and its Egadi siblings have a refreshing simple authenticity.
The castle, called the Forte di Santa Caterina, is officially closed to the public, but when I visited it was easy to enter the decrepit building and expore its extensive interior and terraces, all crumbling away in a state of abandonment.
Ever since the Roman era, Italians have used their offshore islands as prisons, and Favignana still fulfils this function. A prison, built on and around the site of a Norman castle, sits close to the centre of Favignana town.