This tiny volcanic island, covering an area of 8,6 sqm, the summit
of a large submerged volcano, is the oldest of the Sicilian outer archipelago,
having emerged long before the Aeolian Islands.
Both its origin and the blackness of its lava have determined the choice of a
name derived from the Latin Ustum, meaning ‘burnt’.
The ancient volcanic island was originally inhabited by the Phoenicians
and fell prey to pirate raids often during the Middle Ages. A handful of settlers moved
there from Lipari in the Bourbon era. Until the 1950s, it was used as a penal colony.
Tourism developed when underwater diving enthusiasts came to explore the surrounding beautiful
limpid waters and wonderful scraggy coastline.
Local residents mainly live on fishing and tourism; additional income is presently being generated
by developing the range of crops grown (vines, vegetables and cereals, especially lentils).
In 1987 it was designated a marine national park, and its crystal clear waters
and undersea treasures, particularly the submerged ancient city of Osteodes,
attract divers from all over the world.