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Aeolian Islands: the most beautiful walks

“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 



View of Mount Etna from Lipari Island

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:

 

San Calogero Thermal Baths

This 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.



Punta Palmeto

Same starting point: the mines of Caolino. But once you arrive on the scenic coastal road, the trail continues to the right sloping towards the sea. You arrive in a real corner of paradise, popular also among the locals who come here to find their moments of peace.  After the break, the walk proceeds to Punta Palmeto, where there are the remains of a Roman watchtower.
If you want to take advantage of a restorative bath, you're in the perfect place.

 
 

Belvedere di Quattrocchi

From 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

 

Vulcano, de:User:Man77 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

As you approach the island, the smell of sulfur preludes an entry into a Dante's Inferno, but, instead of bringing penance, the island gives way to the strong emotions of being in a unique place. The wild nature, the water springs and the hot muds in which the volcanic fumaroles puff make it a spa in the open air between the blue of the sea and the black of the lava sand.



Reach for the Gran Cratere

A well-marked path leads to the left of the base of the main crater of this still active volcano. It takes about an hour to go up to the Vulcano Della Fossa (peak at 300m), in an ascent that slows you down for the tendency to sink into the black sand. Like in a fantasy movie, the trail continues between dense and whitish fumes of sulfur dioxide, in a rarefied lunar landscape that culminates with the view of the Aeolian Archipelago. As for the other islands, it is better to ascend early in the morning or towards sunset.



Salina

Prickly pears, olive trees, rows of vines on the coast while carpets of brooms and arbutus trees cover the slopes of Fossa Delle Felci (962m asl) and Mount Rivi (854 m asl). The skies of the island are cut by the flight of Eleonora's falcon who migrates from Madagascar to nest on the walls of Mont Corvo.

 

Monte Fossa Delle Felci

There are many possibilities for inspiring walks on the island.  The less demanding is the walk to the summit of Mount Fossa delle Felci starting from the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Terzito, in Valdichiesa. You'll reach the top in about 2 hours. You can admire the Aeolian landscape and then you look down into the crater, covered by the Mediterranean marquis.

 

Panarea

 

Panarea

Tiny with a myriad of satellite islands surrounding it.
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

The most expert will be able to follow the path of the Italian Alpine Club that leads from the centre of San Pietro to the peaks of the island (a volcano still in activity). Our advice is instead to enjoy the short route that leads from the Church of the Assumption to the Calcara. After having passed the church, go left, heading north, towards the hamlet of Iditella.
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.
 
 

Stromboli 

You are never really alone on this island. Watching over the Strombolians (very few) and visitors (many in the summer) is "Iddu" (Him in the local dialect), which day and night remind them of his presence with rumblings and explosions.

 


Volcano Stromboli 


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.



San Vincenzo - summit craters

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.
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.