I have decided to take island hopping to the next level. Volcano hopping sounds crazy, probably is, but I was intrigued. The Aeolian islands are about 16 miles from Sicily and only 2 hours from the southern port of the mainland of Italy.
There is a group of small islands of all shapes and sizes that have been there since 4,000 years before Christ. The island of Vulcano dates back so far that name Volcano originated from it. The main islands are made up of Lipari, the most inhabited and oldest town In Italy. Stromboli and Vulcano are the islands with the active volcanos. Panarea is called the VIP island by the locals. It is a way to say where the very wealthy live. Salina, filicudi, alicudi, and Basiluzzo finish out the list of the Aeolian islands. I did not get to visit the last four, but I had my work cut out for me with the others.
After a train ride to the overnight ferry, we arrived at the Aeolian Islands. We are exhausted by this time, the rain is falling as we arrive to the port, but it fades away when you see the picturesque views of the small island of Lipari. We were picked up by a smiling man named Marcello. He and his wife own the bed and breakfast, Al Salvatore. We will be staying at their home turned into a B & B for the next few days. He says upon our arrival, “The island cries for joy for your arrival and shines for your goodbye. Thanking you for your visit.” Doesn’t that sound nice. I suddenly changed by attitude and smiled at the rain.
I quickly found out that the islands pride are their volcanos. Every local said it was a must to visit or hike the Stromboli volcano! After a rainy day of exploring on Lipari, we made plans to take a boat ride with Capt Barney to Vulcano and explore Lipari by boat. Vulcano is an island with an active volcano, but had it’s last major eruption in 1888. It is covered in black rock and sand. The island is also known for it’s natural mud baths. The baths were hot and relaxing, but the smell of sulfur was so strong we had to throw away our bathing suits. We also smelled for the next few days. Not such a cute look.
We had a full day on Barney’s boat and were ready for our next challenge to hike the famous Stromboli volcano. You take a boat ride to Stromboli where you rent hiking gear and set off around 5pm. The hike up is 3 hours and 2 hours down. You are racing to get to the top before sunset. The active volcano is made up of coarse sand and rock. You are hiking in almost quick sand and it is a steep up hill the entire time. This was one of the hardest things I had ever accomplished hiking at 3,000 feet.
Stromboli thunders when it erupts every 15-20 minutes. The closer you get the more terrifying and amazing it becomes. We watched the volcano erupt for an hour. It was a display of natures fireworks. You become in a trance by the beauty and disbelief.
The Aeolian islands might be off the beaten path, but worth the very long trek to get there. They are beautiful and explode magic.