Those visiting the Aeolian Islands will discover a remote and idyllic destination with stunning natural beauty, a brilliant clear light, unpolluted seas teeming with fish and a soporific way of life in romantic isolation.
They can be reached most easily from Milazzo but also from Messina, Cefalu and Palermo. The archipelago is made up of 7 volcanic islands each with a different character:
At nearly 37km2, Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands and is an ideal base for those looking to explore the other islands. There are a number of restaurants and bars around the port as well as a Norman church, archaeological museum and handful of interesting shops in the town centre. From the port of Milazzo in north east Sicily, it is possible to travel to Lipari by ferry or hydrofoil (journey time approximately 1 hour).
Gran Cratere hangs menacingly over the island’s inhabited northern tip, its plume of vapour a silent reminder of its awesome power. The crater can be climbed in about an hour (given that you are in reasonably good shape) and the mud baths in its natural springs are also worth a visit. There are a number of hotels and restaurants on the island where you can enjoy refreshment.
Salina is the second largest of the Aeolian Islands and is divided into 3 communes: Santa Marina on the eastern coast, Malfa to the north and Leni to the southwest. Salina is the greenest of the islands and is home to two extinct volcanoes as well as an abundance of violet-flowered capers, grape vines and trees.
Having erupted almost continuously since 1932, Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Standing at approximately 2,200 metres, Stromboli is an exceptionally striking sight and yet, despite its somewhat precarious habits, its inhabitants are undaunted people who have always lived beneath it in low, white-washed houses.
Panarea is the smallest of the Aeolian Islands and yet is certainly one of the prettiest, surrounded by clusters of islets and clear blue sea. It is almost Greek in aspect, with a surreal feel created by its pristine white houses and pastel doors and shutters. This stunning, exclusive setting has transformed the island into a retreat for the rich and famous, many of whom arrive from the Riviera in their luxurious yachts.
Alicudi is the western-most of the Aeolian Islands, approximately 40km west of Lipari, and is almost circular in shape. Inhabited only on the eastern slope, Alicudi is an extremely quiet island with a number of pleasant walks and beautiful sights.
Although bigger than Alicudi, this island is considered remote even by the natives of Lipari. However, it is a beautiful island to explore on foot, with spectacular paths criss-crossing their way along mountain terraces with craggy volcanic boulders, flowering cacti and sensational views.