“I fell in love with the island,” the words uttered by the Italian owner of the hotel, Maison Leila, Alessandra Campana. Campana moved to the island more than 25 years ago after falling in love with it. You wouldn’t blame her, either.
For such a small island, Djerba is erupting with cultural richness. It possesses all the Mediterranean’s usual flourishes but mixes in exhilarating North African roots. Its wonderfully intertwined tapestry is most prominent in its people, with the Muslim, Jewish and Berber communities. They all coexist peacefully together on the island as they have done for centuries.
The island has been a popular destination for tourists, but in recent years, it has taken a hit with the country’s political situation and with Covid. However, things are on the amends. Petr Jenč, an archaeologist from the Czech Republic, has been splitting his time back and forth between the island and his home for the last 20 years for work and pleasure. Not many people know the island as he does, and Jenč is here to tell us some of the hidden gems of Djerba.
The pearls of Djerba
Djerba rightfully belongs to the pearls of this tourist-attractive and amiable country. The island itself is an excellent place for a beach holiday, but also a location that has a lot to offer from its historical and natural heritage. Add to that the pleasant climate with sunny days for most of the year, making it a friendly place for a more extended stay. At the same time, it is an ideal starting point for exploring southern Tunisia — especially the Dahar mountains and Sahara desert.
The island is also prevalent with many Tunisians who travel from all over the country. Jenč explained, “When I took my friends from Greater Tunis (capital) to Djerba years ago, they were astonished that the island is not one endless tourist zone full of hotels, discos and amusement parks. On an island with an area of 514 square kilometres, the tourist zone makes up only 2.5%. If we add the area of the international airport, there is still over 90% of the area of “authentic” Djerba — an island worth exploring.”