“A great floating island it was, and round it all huge ramparts rise of indestructible bronze and sheer rock cliffs shoot up from sea to sky.”These were the words of Odysseus as he approaches the islands of King Aeolus, guardian of the winds. Perhaps only the legend manages to narrate the evocative power of this handful of islands off the coast of North Sicily.
What follows are our favourite trails on Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Panarea, and Stromboli.
Lipari is the largest island in the Aeolian archipelago. The peculiarity that makes this island special is its characteristic urban centre, situated at the foot of a fascinating Greek acropolis. There are three easy treks to enjoy on Lipari:
View of Mount Etna from Lipari Island
San Calogero Thermal BathsThis trek (or in this case more of a walk) starts from the mines of Caolino, after a 20-minute you'll reach a plateau from where the coastal trail starts. After 20 scenic minutes, you'll see the old thermal baths of San Calogero, a real Spa ante litteram built-in 1867 with blocks of lava on a 3500 years old sulfurous site. The thermal activity stopped in the 70s and now the baths are on sale waiting to be restored to their former glory.
If you want to take advantage of a restorative bath, you're in the perfect place.
Belvedere di QuattrocchiFrom Pianoconte you will soon reach the Belvedere of Quattrocchi. The panorama is one of the most striking of the Aeolian and perhaps all of Sicily. Here are the stacks of Pietralunga and Pietraminarda, which disappear in the presence of the dark profile of the island of Vulcano. Go there at sunset.
Vulcano, de:User:Man77 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]
Reach for the Gran Cratere
Monte Fossa Delle Felci
The island's luxuriant vegetation is dotted by the villas of the VIPs who made the island famous among the international jet set.
Conca delle fumarole della Calcara
Between walls covered with bougainvillaea and geraniums, you can reach the panoramic point above the fumarole basin of Calcara beach, where the sea bursts with volcanic puffs rising from the depth.
The scientific world calls it ''the Strombolian activity'' and volcanologists and enthusiasts from all over the world dock on the island to watch a show of sound and fire that leaves you speechless.
You can't walk up to the top 926m on your own, you must hire a guide. You'll find more than one associations organizing excursions, day and night, providing everything you need to safely enjoy an unforgettable experience.
San Vincenzo - summit craters
The excursion lasts more or less three hours and it includes two stops, in which the guides will give a glimpse of history, geology and explain the panorama, which on clear days can give goosebumps (the lucky ones will be able to see as far as Mt Etna).
The intensity and frequency of the explosions are unpredictable but they'll accompany your ascent to the Pizzo, a unique natural amphitheatre from which to admire the mouths of fire. If the wait is repaid, you will see a show that is hard to forget.
Those who don't fancy the walk up to the summit can opt for a pizza at the Osservatorio, positioned right in front of the mouths of the volcano. The 40-minute path is semi-flat among Mediterranean scrub, inebriating aromas and sea views.