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  • Writer's pictureranhyn

The Aeolian Islands

In May we decided to take a short holiday to the Aeolian islands north of Sicily. This is a place Mark has been wanting to visit again ever since he had been there as a student many many years ago. He had climbed Stromboli and actually looked into one of the active craters ( you do crazy things when you are young!)

There are seven main islands and they are all volcanic in origin. Two of the islands, Stromboli and Vulcano are actually still active. Like Malta, the islands have a very varied history and at different times were occupied by many of the civilizations who also occupied Malta.

We travelled to Milazzo from Pozzallo with our motorbikes and took the ferry from there to Lipari the following day. Of course, one can cross over with a car too but it is important to know that there are certain restrictions regarding vehicles in place for tourists during the summer months. We had booked our tickets online but needed to have them validated at a ticket office near the port. This did cause a bit of a delay but we managed to get on the ferry. The trip to the islands of Lipari by ship took about 2 hours.

The islands are both impressive and beautiful and seeing them appear on the horizon as you approach by boat is a very memorable experience. We stayed at a small resort on Lipari about 10 minutes away from the port. After the first day, we did not use the motorbikes as they are only useful to go around Lipari itself (the other islands we visited were too small) however it was an interesting drive. As we mentioned the islands are beautiful with lots of stunning coastline and amazing views of the neighboring Islands.

The day after arrival we decided to go on a trek around Lipari. We have a book called Walking in Sicily and chose one of the routes. Again the scenery and vistas were really stunning. In the evening we ate at a restaurant called Ristorante da Filippino a Lipari, situated next to Castello di Lipari.

The following day we took the ferry to Vulcano which is only 20 minutes or so away from Lipari. Mark managed to climb to the top of the volcano. Although it was not a

very intense walk it needed an hour or so of climbing with volcanic ash underfoot. However, the effort was really worth it. The views of the volcano and the countryside below were unforgettable and such a contrast.

On our last day, we took a boat tour to Panarea and Stromboli. Panarea was a surprise for us as we discovered that it is one of the most popular yachting destinations in the Mediterranean and also a famous party island. After a 2-hour stop, during which we walked around the town and had a (very expensive) Limoncello spritz it was on to Stromboli. As mentioned Stromboli is an active volcano. You are no longer allowed to climb to the summit, only up to 400 meters from the top. This would require an overnight stay and tours are organized locally. You cannot climb without a guide. We did manage to do a short walk but unfortunately had to take the boat back. However, on the return journey, we stopped at sea on the side of the island where one can observe volcanic activity at the summit. There were regular small eruptions and in the dying light at sunset, they really were an impressive sight.

The following day we returned to Sicily with the ferry to Milazzo. Here we stayed a night in Liguaglossa at a hotel we had discovered a number of years ago. It is situated at the beginning of a road that climbs to an observation post on Etna which is very popular with motorcyclists :-)

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