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Aeolian Islands

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Travel Guide Europe Italy Sicily Aeolian Islands

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Introduction

Stromboli

Stromboli

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The UNESCO listed Aeolian Islands are a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily, named after the demigod of the winds Aeolus. The locals residing on the islands are known as Aeolians. The Aeolian Islands are a popular tourist destination in the summer, and attract up to 200,000 visitors annually. Because the largest island is Lipari, the islands are sometimes referred to as the Lipari Islands or Lipari group. The other islands include Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea and Basiluzzo.

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Geography

The present shape of the Aeolian Islands is the result of volcanic activity over a period of 260,000 years. There are two active volcanoes - Stromboli and Vulcano. The volcanic activity of steaming fumaroles and thermal waters are on most of the islands.

Scientifically the archipelago is defined as a volcanic arc. The origin of the Aeolian Islands is due to movement of the Earth's crust as a result of plate tectonics. The African continental shelf is in constant movement towards Europe. The resulting collision has created a volcanic area with ruptures in the Earth's crust with consequent eruptions of magma. The "Aeolian Arc" extends for more than 140 kilometres, but the area of geological instability caused by the collision of Africa and Europe is much larger. It includes Sicily, Calabria, and Campania together with Greece and the Aegean islands.

The complex of the eight Aeolian Islands, covering an area of 1,600 square kilometres, originated from a great plain at the bottom of the Tyrrhenian sea. Emissions of lava from depths of up to 3,600 metres resulted in the formation of the Aeolian Islands, together with Ustica and a series of submarine volcanoes named Magnani, Vavilov, Marsili and Palinuro, as well as two that are unnamed.

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Islands

  • Lipari is the largest island and its port town is easily the most significant. There is a very impressive museum just above the town and buses around the island travel in both directions.
  • Vulcano is the nearest island to the mainland. Although its name is evocative, the volcano is very old and is breathing its last smoke.
  • Stromboli - a very active volcano and its gushes of lava make for a great show in the evenings.
  • Salina is the 'Il Postino' island.
  • Panarea is possibly the most beautiful of all but is certainly the most expensive so you may prefer a day trip!
  • Filicudi has a fine coast and provides great diving with its many wrecks.
  • Alicudi is small and pretty.

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Sights and Activities

Vulcano

Vulcano is the first port of call for ferries from Milazzo. As well as the spectacular view of the narrow channel between this island and neighbouring Lipari, you're also greeted with the strange sight of a stack of sulphurous oozings, right by the harbour, with an accompanying smell! Disembarking, you can follow the road between the said stack and a huge red rock, sulphurous fumes hissing out of the side of the pavement, to one of the island's main attractions. Next to the beach, the locals have created a hollow in the volcanic clay that is filled with yellow mud. After bathing in the mud, you can swim in the sea and wash it all off. Swimming here is a very special experience, because the fumaroles extend right out into the sea, bubbling up hot gas and giving the sensation of being in a jacuzzi, in the blue Mediterranean!

The other main attraction on Vulcano is, you guessed it, the volcano! A steep climb from the town, you can walk to the summit of the island for a spectacular view of the other Aeolian Islands. If you have closed footwear, you can traverse the active vents on the north side of the main crater on your way to the top. Here, a great deal of steam and smelly gas is given off, and you can observe large sulphur crystals in the vents. Be careful not to burn your feet on the hot rocks and steam.

Lipari

Lipari is relatively pedestrian in comparison with exotic Vulcano. Fortunately, it has less exotic prices, and the large main town has a nice old quarter and a decent quota of non-tourist shops. Among the attractions on Lipari is the pumice quarry, reached from the main town by an infrequent bus service. This is right by the sea, and has a nice rocky beach where, interestingly, many of the rocks tend to float off into the sea!

Stromboli

Stromboli is the most spectacular of the islands, as it's the only one that is currently volcanically active. In fact, its's the only volcano in the world that is known to have been continuously active throughout recorded history. The approach by ferry from Lipari takes one past the sheer sides of the island that rise towards the summit crater, which is permanently shrouded in clouds of its own making. Stromboli town has pretty narrow streets and, further from the centre, beautiful black sand beaches in rocky coves. The must-see attraction is the night-time climb up to the crater. The going is tough (you will be climbing approximately 850m) but you will see an amazing sunset and the eruptions are incredible. The trip is rounded off by running down the volcanic ash slopes, in the dark!

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Getting There and Around

Check the here to find time-tables. Otherwise, the following ferries could be of some use:

  • SNAV Ferries between Naples and Aeolian Islands (Stromboli, Panarea, Lipari, Vulcano, Alicudi, Filicudi, Salina).
  • Traghetti Siremar between Palermo and Ustica Island, Trapani to Egadi Islands, Levanzo, Marettimo, Favignana. Also Trapani to Pantelleria, Porto Empedocle to Pelagie Islands (Linosa and Lampedusa). And Milazzo (Sicily) to Aeolian Islands (Stromboli, Panarea, Lipari, Vulcano, Alicudi, Filicudi, Salina) and Naples.

The larger islands, Lipari, Vulcano and Salina have quite good bus services. Timetables are available at the tourist offices in each island's port. Those islands also have scooters for rent, and are the only of the islands with comprehensive systems of roads. Panarea and Stromboli are small enough to have no roads or automobiles to speak of; Panarea in particular is completely accessible by foot. Alicudi and Filicudi are so remote that they have little in the way of developed tourist industries or infrastructure. On those islands, transport from the port, and scooter rental, should be arranged with one's inkeeper. Boat rental is also popular for touring the periphery of each island; although the small boats for rent are not adequate for travel between the islands, but are popular for the excursion from Panarea to the islets of Basiluzzo and Drauto.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Casa Corallovia Chiesaguesthouse-
Hotel AmareaVia Cesare Battisti Liparihotel-
Hotel Villa Dianavia Tufo - Diana n 1 Liparihotel-
Hotel Villa EnricaVia Serra 11 Liparihotel-
La Casa Del Melogranovia San Giuseppe Malfa Isola di Salinaguesthouse-
Hotel Mea****Via Falcone BorsellinoHotel-
Hotel CutimareVia Mazzini - AcquacaldaHotel-

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This is version 9. Last edited at 9:29 on Jan 5, 16 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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