seven Aeolian Islands are situated off the north-eastern coast of
Sicily. They vary in character from being rough and untamed places
(like the two most remote islands Filicudi and Alicudi), to being
tempered by residents and visitors (Lipari and Panarea), to introverted
and solitary (Salina), or lively (Vulcano and Stromboli) which,
with timely precision one might say, puff out smoke before relishing
the attention paid to them as they toss small incandescent lumps
of stone high into the air.
Greek mythology ascribes the islands to Aeolus, and suggest that
Odysseus temporarily sheltered there during his travels. There he
would met cyclops Polyphemus.
history itself of these islands is lost in the mist of time, when
tectonic plates moved to create a great chasm in the Tyrrhenian
Sea thereby releasing a mass of molten magma that hardened into
a great volcanic outrcrop, some 1000-3000m from the ocenan floor,
of which only a minute proportion emerges above the water. According
to most recent theories, this happened during the Pleistocene era,
just under a million of years ago. The earliest islands to be formed
were Panarea, Filicudi and Alicudi. The youngest are those which
continue to be active today, Vulcano and Stromboli. Eruptions have
continued over the millennia resulting in a variety of phenomena.
ranging from pumice formation, a material so light that it floats
on water, to the great streams of black obsidian, a glassy and friable
material with edges so sharp as to be used by ancient peoples to
make razor-like cutting tools.
scanty population of the islands, that in certain periods is almost
isolated from the rest of the world, mostly subsists on fishing,
farming (especially vines and harvesting of capers), quarrying pumice
(as on Lipari, although this is a dying trade), and most particularly,
albeit for a short season, on tourism.
sea is clear and warm, its color ranging from cobalt blue to crystal
near the shore; the rocky shoreline nurtures a rich variety of aquatic
flora and fauna: sea anemones, sponges, shell-fish, seaweed, crustaceans
and molluscs as well as countless species of fish, making it a paradise
for bathers, snorkellers, divers and spear-gun-fishing enthusiasts
who seek peace and quiet, far removed from the trappings of worldly
life, may choose to go to Alicudi and Filicudi, or Salina, which
although more populated and crowded by visitors, is still unspoilt.
The same goes for Lipari, Panarea and Vulcano, drawing an ever-increasing
number of tourists every year but still providing the ideal context
for a perfect holiday.
– The main service providers are: Si.Re.Mar (090/9811 312),
S.Na.V (090/9880266), Co.Ve.Mar (090/98 13 181) and N.G.I. (090/98
11 955). These are operated by hydrofoil and ferry, which incur
inversely proportional costs and times. On average, the hydrofoil
(foot-passengers only) costs twice as much as the ferry and takes
half the time. The closest port on the main island of Sicily, which
logically runs the most frequent sailings, is Milazzo. However,
services are also operated out of Messina, San Giovanni (near Reggio
Calabria), Palermo, Napoli and Taormina. Bus services also shuttle
foot-passengers from the port at Milazzo to several of the major
towns in Sicily.
– In addition to traditional hotels, rooms and apartments
are also available (listed by the Azienda di Turismo 090/98 80 095
and in the annually-updated hotel register). Camp-sites are on Salina
and Lipari and youth hostel on Lipari, at the heart of the fortified
facilities – Beware that the only cashpoints in the
Aeolian Islands are on Lipari, in Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Credit
cards are not universally accepted.
trips – The best way to explore the islands is by
rubber dinghy that you can hire at various points on Lipari. Given
the exorbitant cost of hiring one, there is the option of joining
an organised excursion by boat from Lipari or Vulcano (from the
other islands, the boats are smaller and the services less frequent)
which goes to Stromboli (even at night when the so-called Strombolian
explosion can be watched from the sea), Filicudi and Alicudi (in
the same day); Panarea, Salina, or circumnavigate them (Lipari and
Vulcano). The trips usually take in all the islands, making the
most interesting approaches from sea to include a view of caves,
rock formations, bays and beaches; they sometimes include stops
for swimming and for brief visits to the main town. Excursions take
place two or three times a week; they can last a whole day (departing
around 9am and returning between 5pm and 7pm) or half a day (departing
early afternoon and returning late in the evening as for the Stromboli
and sporting activities – The breathtaking clear-like
waters and uncontaminated sea beds of the Aeolian Islands make diving
the most demanded sporting activity as well as an unforgettable
experience. For beginners and those without equipment: Diving Center
La Gorgonia (Tel. 090/98 l206O), Diving Center Manta Sub (Tel. 090/98
11 004) and Sud Est Diving Center (Tel. 090/9812510) in Lipari.
HOUSES – Houses in Aeolian Islands, all similar in
their square shape and white color, are very characteristic. The
white color is suitable for protecting against the sun’s heat.
They are usually accessed through a portico or a covered terrace
(the ‘bagghiu’) bordered by two or three columns (the
‘pulere’). The roofing, usually made of reeds, also
protects against heat and humidity (this especially at night). The
home roof is terraced to collect rain water.
Guide of Sicily
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