Hiking in the Aeolian Islands
Going to the top of a volcano is a unique experience.
You can walk over a variety of different peaks and through forests scented with caper blossoms and broom, move between white expanses of pumice and the sharp black beauty of obsidian, while admiring the lapilli of the craters winding their way through the vineyards of Malvasia. Proceed at a slow or a steady pace, picking your way through branches of oleander, myrtle bushes, heather and olive trees.
This can only happen in Sicily, in one of the world's most unique and evocative archipelagos.
The Aeolian archipelago comprises seven islands, all volcanic in origin, plus a multitude of rocks, islets and sea stacks spread out over a crystal-clear sea. Each of these islands — Lipari, Salina, Vulcano, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi and Panarea — is a small paradise of exceptional variety, ideal for visiting on foot, with steep climbs from the azure sea below to reach summits of approaching a thousand metres. From the top there’s an exceptional view. You can compete to pick out the outlines of the more distant islands which look like prehistoric animals who’ve fallen asleep on the surface of the water.
Don’t miss the climb to the two craters: the crater of Stromboli, crossing the black Sciara del Fuoco to the peak 918 metres above sea level with its clearly visible lava explosions (one every 5–6 minutes); and the crater of Vulcano, a Dante-like inferno, with sulphurous gases emanating from the earth and therapeutic mud, excellent for a relaxing hot bath.
Every island has at least one itinerary difficult to forget.
On Filicudi there’s Punta Lazzaro, reached with a path still covered with brambles; on Alicudi there’s Filo dell’Arpa with its terracing and peasants still riding on the backs of mules.
On Salina there’s Monte dei Porri, the Fossa delle Felci and the incredible Pollara, a half-submersed crater, where Il Postino, Troisi’s last film was made. On Panarea there’s Punta del Corvo where you can enjoy the view over Dattilo, Lisca Bianca and Basiluzzo. Lipari hasMonte Pilato, Capo Bianco, the unusual pumice quarries of Porticello and the quarries of Caolino in Quattropani, with their polychrome pastel shades.
Immersing yourself in the Aeolian islands, a UNESCO heritage site, is like plunging into an ancestral land, forged by rocks, waves and fire. Inhabited since the Neolithic period, thanks to its highly-prized obsidian and its fertile, volcanic soil, and then reshaped, century after century, by patient human hands, hands which built dry stone walls, mule tracks, paths and lanes.
Today you can enjoy incredible panoramas in places where time seems to have stood still, and once more live a little like the gods who used to inhabit them, and whose presence is still tangible, in an area of rarified, unrivalled beauty.