Aeolian Islands, Sicily

 
The Aeolian Islands  are located in the Tyrrhenian Sea and consists of seven beautiful islands: Stromboli, Vulcano, Alicudi, Filicudi, Panarea, Lipari, and Salina.
 
They are collectively called the “seven pearls of the Mediterranean” and according to history, they were named this way after the Greek god of the wind, Aeolus. The Islands were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 2000 in recognition of the pure natural scenery possessed by the islands. The islands are ideal for tourists to hike, sun bath or just get lost in their endless and amazing beauty. For the more serious visitors, the islands are rich in history, both architectural and archealogical.
 
Aeolian Islands
 

Friendships never ends despite the distance 

My friend Martina invited me to have an holiday in the Aeolian Islands for one week in July . It was a perfect chance to meet her again and to visit again this gorgeous volcanic archipelago in th North of Sicily .

I took a ferry from Milazzo. You can reach the Aeolian Islands by ferry and hydrofoil from various points in Sicily. I would recomend pre-booking on line your Ferry Tickets in advance,  above all during peak season.  Milazzo is the main departure point for the Aeolian Islands with several  hydrofoils leaving daily throughout the year. Crossings take between 45mins to 3 hours, depending on which island your are heading for . Take your time walking in the center of Milazzo as well . I  love this town. It’s small, has excellent bread shops, cafes and shopping in general. There is a very Old Castle that you can go to. The promenade is great for just strolling along. I want to return and spend longer and to explore more.

Castellaro WInery

Lipari

Lipari is the main island and the main town. Lipari town is a pretty little place and easily visited on foot. It’s the  ideal destination for those who come for the first time to the Aeolian Islands and want to take advantage of its central position for trips and excursions to the other islands. Top 5 things to do in Lipari in one day:

  • Have a typical Sicilian breakfast with granita e brioche  (baked buns with a frozen dessert that is similar to a sorbetto)  getting  lost in the beauty of it’s main  picturesque port  “Marina Lunga”. It’s a functional port where both large ferries and fast hydrofoils dock. Poke your nose into churches and alleyways;
  • Walk from “Marina Lunga”   to “Marina Corta” simply following Via Garibaldi: a really cute little pedestrian street filled with cafes, bars and shops where relaxing and doing shopping; 
  • Visit the historic centre of Lipari from”Marina Corta” :  here is the ruins of an ancient namesake fortress on a steep rocky coast (it was an ancient Greek Acropolis, and then the Central part of the Roman, medieval and then Spanish cities). The best attractions here are: the  Archeological Park,  the Regional Aeolian Archaeological Museum,  the Old Castel  and  Cathedral of San Bartolomeo ;
  • Have a rest taking photos in “Marina Corta”: the historic harbour in the South of the citadel . In  this colourful port  you can contemplate scenes of daily life: children splashing in the water, fishermen playing cards in the piazza,  lazy stray dogs dozing, and the sun illuminating a little church out on the jetty. The atmosphere is very peaceful;
  • Have an unforgettable dinner in Trattoria del Vicolo . It is located in vicolo Ulisse, 15, just right in the city center in order to get delicious local food , fresh fish and top white Sicilian Wines !

Aeolian Islands

Finally thanks to my friend Martina I discovered Castellaro Winery , where she works. I had  a surprising Wine Tasting in a stunning location and my first wine grape harvest.

 

Vulcano

I spent my second day in Vulcano  that is a “quieter” version of Lipari , where I relaxed and got inside the spirit of  nature. The island was full of volcanic rocks, therapeutic sulphur mud and also alum caves. Vulcano offered  a quiet, romantic and perfect getaway from  the busy Lipari Therefore, if you love the city life, you can stay in Lipari but if you prefer calm and quiet, it is best that you sleep in Vulcano

The rest of my day was all about the Food and the local White Wine. In Vulcano they are passionate about their specialities: fish and capers. Their Food is so fresh that at noon you might be told there is no menu “because we don’t know what we’re getting in tonight”.

Stromboli

I visited Stromboli in the third day. Featured in director Roberto Rossellini’s 1950 film of the same name, this island has Europe’s only dependably active volcano.

I first get impressed by its split landscape: the stark light of wildflowers, caper bushes, and bougainvillea and the barren black of the  slopes where the lava flows. Stromboli  is an ancient and active volcano rising  from the Mediterranean, with a couple of small settlements on the coast. There is a unique island atmosphere that attracts not just tourists but also film-makers and style-setters (Italian previous president Giorgio Napolitano and designers Dolce and Gabbana – who own a villa – are among celebrities who holiday here). There are basically three things to do in  Stromboli . One is to potter around the main village, admiring the views and looking at volcano souvenirs in little shops. The second is to take a boat trip around to the Sciara del Fuoco, the steep black lava scar down the volcano’s side, where you can see Stromboli ’s explosions.

Panarea

Panarea

My third day was dedicated to Panarea in the morning : a charming world of its own where time seems to have stopped. 

Panarea is the second smallest and most fashionable of the islands. It owes its fame to the Hotel Raya, which in the summer attracts the international jet-set. It’s often described as the “Capri of the Aeolian islands” for its wealthy and chic summer scene. The population explodes in July and August when tourists arrive  by yacht or helicoptert to have fun  sunbathing  and shopping. Shopping in Panarea is exquisite and expensive. While Panarea may be populated by extreme “haves,” its charm comes largely from what it has not. Whitewashed buildings with blue accents remind many visitors of the Greek islands.  The labyrinthine streets winding through the center are without cars or lamps. There are no city lights. In addition to lovely coves to swim in, this island has thermal springs, scuba diving . Panarea might be small, but there’s no shortage of things to do – even if you don’t have an enormous luxury yacht floating offshore. I spend most of my days around “Zimmari Beach” .  It’s about a 30 minute walk from the port and you can’t miss it .

Salina

I was  intrigued by the coloured doors of the homes in Salina. I wandered through the quiet streets of the town of Santa Marina . Salina’s main street is lined with shops selling ceramics, gourmet food, clothing and shoes.

Almost every house in Salina comes with a view of the sea. There is  also a small salt lake, seven dormant volcanoes, and plenty of coves. Do you know that some emotional scenes of  “Il Postino” (“The Postman” ) , a famous Italian film (1994), were filmed in the rocky beach of  “Pollara” in Salina?  “Il Postino”   was directed by Michael Radford and  tells a fictional story in which the real life Chilean poet Pablo Neruda forms a relationship with a simple postman who learns to love poetry. Finally, I couldn’t miss  a visit at the Hauner Winery. I already knew their excellent wine “Hierà” and their inimitable and exceptional Malvasia. I was completely bewitched by the fantastic Hauner Winery 

Filicudi & Alicudi

Filicudi and Alicudi are raw and rocky, devoid of celebrity attention and at first sight they seem to be hostile. Their sea is crystal clear with amazing visibility, full of fish, and accessible only by crossing over rocks or small beaches made up of pebbles. There are few resaturants and shops. They are  peaceful and remote islands

After my summer holidays here It was very hard to go back to my daily life. I had my eyes full of the blue of the Mediterranean sea in the Aeolian Islands  where sinplicity is a luxury. The only medicine is to go back here again!

Enljoy it !

Stefania

 

Spread the love