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Where are the Aeolian Islands?
The Aeolian islands are in the Thyrrenian sea off the coast of Sicily. They are ideal for a peaceful holiday and getting away from it all.
The best time to enjoy the beauty of the islands is in low season when the summer crowds have gone or have not yet arrived.
Reasons for going there?
The sea is cobalt - blue. The mountains (former volcanoes) are covered with wild flowers, vineyards, trees including lemon, caper and olive trees. The little towns and villages are delightful. The inhabitants are very friendly and helpful.
These islands are a real paradise for nature lovers, hikers and scuba divers. Since 2000 the islands were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Getting there and getting about
Flights from London airports to Catania (BA) or Palermo (Ryanair) are convenient as you can easily reach Milazzo or Messina by train or bus in order to catch the hydrofoil (Ustica Lines or SIREMAR) to the island of your choice. You can also go from Naples by boat if you fancy a few hours on a boat until reaching your destination.
There is no real need to bring a car with you as the islands (Lipari and Salina) are small. The others (Vulcano, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea, Stromboli) are very small. You can walk everywhere easily or rent a bike or a scooter. There are taxis and the bus service on Lipari and Salina is very good.
Accommodation and eating
There is a choice of hotels, Bed and Breakfast and villas for rent. Locals wait for tourists at the various ports and have rooms to offer if you did not book in advance. Be aware that in the Summer everything is packed by holidaymakers.
Restaurants at every price can be found. The food is very nice especially fish dishes and the wine is delicious (try Malvasia on Salina). Tourist guides are a good source for recommended restaurants.
Stromboli is the most exciting of the islands as it is an active volcano. The eruptions in April 2003 showered the little town of Ginostra with rocks. The more recent one of February 2007 changed the coastline near the Scara del Fuoco.
The little town of Stromboli is more like a village than a town. The streets are narrow and only scooters (many are electric) and electric cars can be used there. The black ashen beaches are either side of the little port at Scalo Scari.
Hiking on Stromboli
The Scara del Fuoco (Trail of Fire) is the main reason for coming here. It’s a pleasant walk along the sea shore, through the villages of Ficogrande and Piscita before the climb to the belvedere (at 400m) which is the limit where you can go unaccompanied.
For safety reasons, you cannot walk freely on the volcano. Going with a guide will enable you to go a little further up. For the moment the ascent to the summit (942m) is not allowed.
Nevertheless, being in full view of the lava trail going slowly down into the sea is a fantastic experience. At sunset, it is incredibly beautiful.
It is easy to find a boat to take you around the island. It is also the only way to be able to visit Ginostra which is where Roberto Rossellini’s film “Stromboli” was set in 1949.
Suggested hotel and restaurant
The Ossidiana Hotel is excellent. It is situated by the sea a few hundred meters from the port. The welcome is most friendly, breakfast is delicious and the rooms very comfortable with a view on to the sea or the volcano.
Next door, there is the Azzure Restaurant where the Chef is a great character and brilliant cook.