THE AEOLIAN ISLANDS
Forget about Cyclades islands… In the north-east of Sicily, seven wild and protected islands rise in the clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The Aeolian islands which were the hypothetical home of Eole, greek god of the wind, keep on fascinating. Volcanics landscapes, fumarole of two active volcanos, black sand beaches and aromatic vegetation make every of these charming islands feel different. Some of these paradises are only populated by a few tens of inhabitants. This destination with multi-transports access discourage some tourists, leaving the enjoyment to the daring ones. Your efforts are instantly rewarded by a wonderful change of scenery.
For this first trip Marcelloooo! decides to stay five days in Lipari to discover 3 other islands : Vulcano, Panarea and Stromboli.
The biggest most populated one and best served by transport is Lipari.Let us breakdown the journey for you : A two hour drive from the Catania Airport in Sicily is necessary to reach the port of Milazzo. The main ship links to the Aeolian island including Lipari leave from Milazzo. These boats get you to Lipari in one hour. If you rented a car you can find many guarded parkings in Milazzo. A shuttle will take you to the port.
Count around 10€/day at the Garage delle Isole. When you get to your destination, a motor scooter is perfect to explore the island.
Arriving to Marina Grande’s port in Lipari, we’re immediately surprised by the animation of the site cadenced by the back and forth of ferries and fishermen’s boats. A transfer is usually available to take you to your hotel or B&B. The atmosphere is relaxed, authentic and typical of a small Italian insular city. The small paved streets, colored facades and view of the perched citadel are remnant of a rich past. To understand the history of the city we’ll visit the archeological museum which tells us about the the first inhabitants of Lipari and their remains from the 4th millenium B.C.
We start driving on hilly coastal roads and gaining in height as we get close to the colorful city of Canetto, and its long bay. The view is a representation of the ideal Italian holiday dream. We decide to stay at the Cutimare Hotel in Acquacalda, a small village located on the seafront, facing the Salina island. The traditional extraction of the pumice stone stopped although you can find a few abandoned quarries. The village now lives in the Mediterranean tranquillity animated by the klaxons, the echos of « ciao » and the tourists passing through. The sound of the church bells also punctuates the day. We enjoy a sunset aperitivo at the Naghet facing the sea.
We really thank the agency Ulisse, expert of Sicily, for its valued recommendations.
We decide to have dinner in the antic citadel where we choose a renowned spot for fish degustation, Fillipino. For a typical and familial cuisine prefer the Macine, located in the hinterland of Lipari. Capers and flowers are found in many dishes. At the end of the meal we enjoy the local sweet white wine, the Malvasia in its sirupy version made from sun-dried grapes. Its honey color and fruity flavor will seduce you. You can try it at the Giardino di Lipari, a green oasis in the heart of the city.
For a swim, we head to the Valle I Muria, pebble and crystal clear beach at the foot of the cliff. A small bar proposes beverages and snacks in a cave which was an old fishermen’s spot and is perfect for aperitivo. To access it, climb 15 minutes of steps, a steep slope coming back but an enjoyable walk with Barbary fig tree, maquis and wild fennel scents. You will find numerous hikes and diving spots for the most athletic ones. While crossing the countryside of Quattropani in the shadow of the impressive umbrella pines we head to visit the ancient antic baths di San Calogero. The scooter allows us to travel on the twisting roads as we were real locals.
Motor Scooter around 20€ a day. You can also take the bus but we advice you to arm yourself with patience.
SAILING FROM ISLAND TO ISLAND
To properly explore the Aeolian islands you definitely need to travel by boat which allows you to admire the many faces of the archipelago. Swimming, snorkeling and walks on the island are what sweet days are made of. We advise you to leave from the charming Marina Corta port. Amici delle Eolie which office is located on Lipari’s main road : Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle II, proposes small groups excursions ( around 12 people ). This passionate family might unveil a few of the island’s best kept secrets for you.
Between 20 and 25€. Possibility to privatise the boat.
This island is the closest to Lipari, count around 20 minutes by boat. Sail through Lipari’s Faraglioni, la Baia dei Fichi, Piscina di Venere (turquoise water) and have lunch on the fine and shiny black sand beach of Asino. A beach restaurant that is perfect for a pizza break or to discover the schiacciata, a mix between the bruschetta and foccaccia garnished with delicious fresh products. Vulcano is renowned for the benefits of its thermal springs. Do not hesitate to dip into a mud bath with boiling sulphur recognized for its therapeutic virtues. To be honest you notice the smell as soon as you arrive on the island. Do not bring your best looking swimwear for that experience.
Marcellooo's crush is Stromboli !
Stromboli, Terra di Dio, God’s earth as the 1949 Roberto Rossellini movie subtitled. At that time Ingrid Bergman left Hollywood for the eventful shooting of a movie that dared mixing the documentary, fiction and life on this volcanic little Italian island. Her private relationship with the Italian director resulted in a global scandal. The « casa Ingrid » where the actress lived and became pregnant during the shooting is still present on the island and the cinephile can even rent it 😃
As soon as you lay a foot in the sand, a strange feeling dominates you. The Stromboli is one of the world’s most active volcanos. Its powerful eruptions sometimes still disrupts… What you see of it is only a third of the volcano that peaks above the sea surface. We take the via Roma which then becomes the Via Vittorio Emmanuele for an exceptional stroll. First, a dark and lunar calcined landscape, then a gentle slope going seaward with vines, citruses, other Mediterranean plants and habitations.
The contrast is simply striking.
When in Piscità, next to the San Bartolo church, find paths that will take you to the crater. The Sciara del Fuoco point of view, is situated 400 meters high and is accessible by anyone. Past that distance it is mandatory to be accompanied by an experienced guide that can take you to the crater located 924 meters high. Count five to six hours of hiking to watch the sunset and then admire the breathtaking nighttime eruptions. You must arm yourself with patience but they remain visible from the boats too.
An intense island that leaves you far from indifferent.
The smallest of the island reveals itself to be the most upscale. Admire the whitewashed walls and blue shutters which reminds us of Cyclades ( we love the Cyclades too ! ). While we get closer to the main port of San Pietro we admire the shapes of the luxurious hotels and architect villas. In Panarea there’s almost no traffic and everything is easily accessible on foot. In full season, the fashion and movie personalities that stay in their residences or yachts come to get a taste of Panarea’s chic atmosphere, emerald waters and rich seabeds.
We will come back for sure ! Next islands to visit : Salina, Filicudi and Alicudi.
Special Thanks to the Hotels Eolian and the Travel Agency Ulisse Tour Operator in Palermo for their cooperation.