Monday, May 28, 2012

The Aeolian Islands

The Aeolian Islands are a cluster of volcanic islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just north of Sicily. In total there are seven inhabited islands, Lipari (the largest), Vulcano, Stromboli, Salina, Panarea, Filicudi, and Alicudi. Two of these islands (Vulcano and Stromboli) are actually active volcanoes, with Stromboli in permanent eruption and Vulcano steaming continuously from its main crater.
Looking at Vulcano Island from Lipari Island
After driving the 1.5 hours from Catania, we parked the car in Milazzo and hopped a ferry to Lipari, where we spent our weekend. We were told that when we go the islands we should expect a relaxing vacation. Tourists flock to the islands in the summer to bathe on the sandy beaches, take in the stunning views, swim in the sea, hike the mountains and coastlines, and eat mouthwatering cuisine. Each island has its own uniqueness and charm, but since we didn't want to spend our short time there running back and forth onto ferries, we decided to take the advice of everyone else and just relax. "When in Rome"... or in this case, Lipari.
Dinner our first night.
A quaint street in town.
The next day after breakfast we went on a hike that would take us high up the mountain in order to see the island of Vulcano, along with some breathtaking views of the town of Lipari and the crystal clear water. The ultimate goal was to get to the observatory at the top. We wanted to earn our relaxation time by the pool later! Our walk started in Lipari center, inside the perimeter walls of a 16th century castle that now has ancient ruins and an archeological museum.
The entrance

Ruins from at least 1000 BC

The walls from below.

After leaving the walls we followed the waterfront and walked away from Lipari center. The walk had us stroll past locals' houses with their laundry hanging from their balconies, past the archipelago's only hospital, down small alleyways, under bridges, and eventually away from civilization completely. An ensuing climb had us passing white washed holiday houses perched on top of cliffs, and even though they were situated so close to the town, the serenity, sea, and calmness of their surroundings made them seem so far away.

A lone house.

Eventually we reached a lookout over Punta della Crapazza where a number of rock pinnacles were rising out of the sea. On a faint path we hiked straight up the crest of the mountain and were rewarded with even better views of the rocks. A few more turns led us back onto a concrete road and we walked toward the observatory on the top of the mountain. At this top point, a marvelous spread of islands came into view, including mainland Sicily.
Vulcano Island with a steaming crater

Rock pinnacles rising from the sea.

The islands of Salina and Filicudi.

Now it was time for us to start our descent and head back to Lipari... or so we thought. Thinking we were going to be continuing downwards the hike took us through a very narrow path, massively overgrown with bushes, prickly bushes, and weeds... and we were climbing! How was this possible and why was this happening again?! Had it not been for the random red dots telling us we were on the right path or the guidebook telling us we'd pass some quarries (which we did) we would have thought this was a joke being played on us!

Not a fan of bushes and plants touching me.
View from a brief clearing.

After bushwhacking our way out of the dense woods we followed a small path for about 10 minutes to a church. We were almost there! A walk down a dreadfully steep lane led us to yet another long set of stairs and eventually weaved us downhill through the old part of town.

La chiesa di San Bartolo ai Monte.
Almost there! Just have to descend a little bit more.

To Lipari!
Continuing the descent.
Once we hit the center of Lipari we picked up some cannolis, paninis, and wine, and headed back to the hotel to have lunch on our balcony. The sparkling pool was calling out to us so we quickly changed and headed down to get a much needed dip and relaxation. We spent the rest of the afternoon (and weekend) lounging poolside and drinking wine. We walked/hiked around 6.5 miles so I'd say we earned it!
Our balcony
Lipari from our balcony
Sunning at the pool.
Taking a dip.
Individual chairs with jets!
And loungers!
We can see why so many people flock to the Aeolian Islands during the summer season. With the beauty and uniqueness of each island there's something for everyone to enjoy!


  1. Looks like a great trip! I want to see more food pics! :)

  2. The first thing that came to my mind when I first read your blog was when you said that the Aeolian Islands were located in the Tyrrhenian Sea. I said to myself, "I know where the Tyrrhenian Sea is! Cheryl and Jon's front yard overlooks it! Absolutely gorgeous pictures and I love the one where you are bushwacking through the bushes and plants! (I also hate having all those things touching me!!) And one of the best pictures I love is when you and Jon are relaxing at the pool in the sun! I think that picture says it all! What a wonderful weekend and an amazing experience!! I thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs! Keep em' comin'!!