There is definitely something mysterious and magical about these seven spectacular islands scattered in the Mediterranean Sea.
The seven spectacular Aeolian Islands which are scattered about the Mediterranean Sea have been shaped by nature’s extreme winds and fire. They got their name from Aeolus, the legendary lord of the winds, but their character comes from Vulcan, the god of fire.
They have a mysterious aura and constantly change at the whim of the elements. They have been whipped by ferocious seas and the force of volcanic pressure can create new islands. Using the same power, they can just as quickly be taken away.
Stromboli is known for its rough seas and active volcano which erupts almost constantly. It takes 3 ½ hours to climb to the top and as it is extremely hot in summer, you may prefer the 30 minute climb to the observatory point. Some people choose to take a 30 minute boat ride and sit for a couple of hours watching the activity from the water.
Lipari is the largest and most developed island and is the commercial hub for the islands. It is where people base themselves for exploring the other islands. Less than an hour from the mainland, it is sprinkled with pastel-coloured houses, has two harbours and is very popular with sun and sea lovers. Spiagge Bianca and Porticello attract nude sunbathers, but as the area is known for its pumice stone, extra care should be taken!
The island has an abundance of seafood, the pasta is very special and they reckon the best capers in the world come from here. It has hung on to its charm despite modern progress and the town has a wonderful maze of cobblestone alleys.
Just 10 minutes away is the island of Vulcano, appealing to people for its therapeutic mud baths and hot springs. There are three volcanoes on the island, the oldest being extinct from ancient times. Vulcanello, close to the mud baths, is said to have popped out of the Mediterranean in the second century BC. Gran Cratere, the only active volcano, has a broad smoking crater. It hasn't erupted for more than four centuries, but it does give off a rather overwhelming stench of sulphur. The views from the top make the walk worthwhile.
A soak in the hot mud pool of Laghetto di Fanghi, while quite smelly, is wonderfully relaxing and therapeutic, and afterwards you can enjoy the water in the beach nearby where underwater springs create a natural hot jacuzzi. Best to not wear your favourite bathers in the hot mud as you will probably never remove the smell of sulphur!
Panarea, the smallest and probably most beautiful island, has the best beaches and is a rather elite playground for the European jet set. The best hotel is the Raya it is expensive in peak season, but those who stay there wouldn't dream of going anywhere else.
Climbers tend to start their ascent at about 5:30 pm and on good nights, sunsets are spectacular and you can see the other islands.
From the top, the crater is 200 metres below and, with its predictable activity, you will see explosions every 10 to 15 minutes. You must have a guide to climb or camp on Stromboli.