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Pope Francis is enjoying a tour of the small Italian island of Lampedusa, a hidden gem between Sicily and Libya. The Argentine, who took over from Pope Benedict XVI as head of the Catholic Church in March, is visiting the biggest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Lampedusa boasts beautiful white beaches and crystal clear waters, with TripAdvisor ranking Rabbit Beach as the best in Europe earlier in 2013. The beach can be found on the south coast and is perfect for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving.

As the sun sets in September, rare loggerhead turtles emerge from the sea to lay their eggs on land, watched by a small group of volunteer conservationists. The beach and the nearby island form part of a nature reserve where endangered species are protected. A number of attractive coves feature on the south coast, as well as impressive cliffs and rock formations which require a closer inspection by boat. The old harbour is also popular with tourists.

Holidaymakers keen to sample Lampedusa would first need to book a flight to Palermo, Sicily, with daily flights available from UK airports such as Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. They would then have the option of catching another flight to the island or boarding a ferry from Porto Empedocle, near Agrigento.

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