Today we want to explore a wonderful area of Italy: the Aeolian Islands. Rosamaria Castrovinci (creator of @Sicilyatfirst_sight Instagram account) and Rossella Daví (our Social Media Manager) are going to tell us all about it!
The Archipelago is composed of 7 volcanic islands, one of which is an active volcano. They are:Lipari,Salina, Vulcano, Stromboli, Alicudi, Filicudi and Panarea. The active one is Stromboli and has often has eruptions. You can reach these islands from different cities, for example from Messina, Milazzo, Reggio Calabria, Palermo, Cefalú and Napoli. In Summer you can also do so from Capo D’Orlando and Sant’Agata di Militello.
Before going into further details, it is important to consider a couple of things. The Aeolians are natural islands, some almost untouched. Local people live mainly fishing and are happy to welcome tourists, and share with them anecdotes. If you have in mind a luxury and comfortable trip, then these islands are not suitable. Instead, if you want to discover the stories of people in Sicily, you are exactly in the right place. The best way to explore the islands is by boat and by asking the fishermen for top tips. They will tell you (between a mix of dialect and Italians) what are the best small tours by sea in the day.
The largest island of the archipelago. In the village - which has the same name as the island - you’ll see people walking in the main street called “Il Corso”. However, the most characteristic street is Via Garibaldi. This way connects the Lipari Castle with Piazza Ugo di Sant’Onofrio square, called “Marina Corta”. This is an irregular square full of bars and restaurants. At the far East of the square stands the Rocca of Lipari Castle, while on the sea side stands the historical Church of the Souls of Purgatory. There are several beaches, but the most beautiful one is the one of “Cave di Pomici” (quarries of pumice). Unfortunately, the quarries are closed, but the white backdrop remains a wonderful view to admire. Lipari is a beautiful island to discover. If you want to explore it’s most authentic essence, treat yourself with an interesting guided tour that will take you to learn about its oldest gems, such as the Norman cloister, the Spanish wales of the sixteenth century and the ancient religious buildings.
The most important attraction is undoubtedly Pollara: a beautiful beach in the hamlet of Malfa that rises inside an extinct crater. Yes, that’s right: you will swim in the waters inside the volcano. While looking around, you realize that you are “protected” by rocks within which the houses are literally excavated. During your holidays in the Aeolian Islands, you will realize that Pollara is not easy to reach by everyone, because to reach the beach you have to cross a very steep stretch. What are Salina, and especially Pollara, famous for? For the well known Italian movie “Il Postino” by Massimo Troisi with Maria Grazia Cucinotta, a famous actress from Messina. In fact, here you will find the well-known red house of the movie. The road that leads from the square of Pollara to the sea is named after the film director Troisi, as well as the murales near the Church of Sant’Onofrio. What to eat in Salina? Very easy answer: “Pani cunzatu” which is a Eolian seasoned bread with capers, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and tasty drizzle of olive oil. We recommend eating it at Alfredo’s. Pani Cunzatu means seasoned bread in dialect, simple and rich of flavour and history, just like Sicily. You will find this bread in any cafè and restaurant at the beach or in the village. In most parts of the islands there are no supermarkets, so you have to rely on the local shops (Butie), ask the local employee how to eat capers and if you can taste the local wine.
The island of Vulcano takes its name from the volcano that, although it dates its last eruptions to 1888-1890, continues to give evidence of its activity with fumaroles, jets of steam. Both on the ridge and underwater and the presence of sulfur sludge from the appreciated therapeutic properties. One of the typical attractions of Vulcano is given by the possibility of bathing in sulphur. Surely the benefits are many, although the smell is really strong. You might want to use an old swimsuit to throw away right after and get used to the idea that you’ll smell it on your skin for a few days. If you love sports and do not want to miss it even on holiday at the Aeolian Islands, do not worry: on Vulcano you can go hiking and mountain biking.
Stromboli is also called "IDDU" (in dialect means Him), is nothing more than the top of a huge volcano that is found underwater and that continues to give beautiful emotions with sparkling small eruptions. The curious thing is that Stromboli is inhabited. A little more than 1km away is the Strombolicchio, an old crater and an uninhabited area that you can access. Three hours of walking and you find yourself on the highest point from which tourists love to see, at night, the fire games of Stromboli. We suggest watching the show from the boat. There are many organized excursions that will leave you speechless!
Let’s talk now about Alicudi and Filicudi, the least explored islands and where the balance between man and nature remains almost intact. Just think that electricity arrived there about 20 years ago and that in addition to your legs there will be no other means to explore the twin islands. Only a part of the territory is inhabited and, also in this case, the islands arise on craters now extinct. One thing is certain: when you take a holiday to the Aeolian Islands, you will find perhaps the most beautiful sea in the Mediterranean. In Alicudi there is only one Hotel , Ericusa, and two holiday homes, Casa Mulino and Casa Silvana. The various points of the island, the districts, are reachable by boat. Filicudi has a meeting point called Pecorini A Mare where you can enjoy aperitifs and excellent dinners based on fish in the bars and restaurants in the area. The best fish in Sicily? Swordfish and Cod. In these two islands, as well as in Panarea, you can admire the famous Aeolian white houses: cubes with a roof terrace!
It is the smallest of the islands, famous for the "good life" and for this reason often chosen by VIP for their holiday destination. It is already clear by the amount of yachts at the port. Perfect for influencer-proof photos and for trekking to Punta del Corvo. In the second case, prepare yourself with sunscreen, suitable shoes, food and water. You won’t find much along the way.