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This is a volcanic island of a sombre, unnerving beauty, with a coastline with steep crags emerging from the sea. The almost total lack of roads, its harsh beauty and, above all, the volcano, which makes its presence felt with outbursts of fire and brimstone, have both a strange and awesome power of attraction.

Rossellini’s Terra di Dio (Land of God, 1950) right highlighted the difficulties of living in such a place.

When to go and what to take

To watch the eruptions is especially impressive at night. It is recommended to hike up in the late afternoon and returning in the evening (do not forget to take a torch) or the following morning. Allow three hours for the climb up and two hours for the descent; it is not particularly taxing but it should not be undertaken by the faint-hearted, especially in rare case of bad weather. Local authorised guides are available on Stromboli for additional advice. For the ascent, normal hiking equipment is recommeded: sturdy boots with ankle support are preferable to running shoes or trainers. It is also important to take a torch, a pair of long trousers, a spare T-shirt and, if opting to stay overnight, a good sleeping-bag. Take a sleeping-bag, a wind-cheater or jumper to wear at the top, where the temperature can drop quite dramatically. The excursion can be undertaken all year round. Still, the best period is late spring when the weather is mild and temperatures are not too high; however a night excursions in the summer months is also highly recommended.

On the island there are two villages: on the north-eastern slopes, covered by

a green mantle that stretches to the north as far as San Bartolo, are the small square white houses of San Vincenzo; to the south-west is Ginostra, consisting of some thirty houses clinging to the rock, in desperate isolation (there are no roads, just a mule-track along the side of the hill), but accessible by sea (although not all year round) by means of the smallest port in the world. The arid, precipitous northern flank which separates the two villages, is the most impressive, scarred as it is by the Sciara del Fuoco – down which the burning lava flows each time the volcano decides to erupt.

Opposite San Vincenzo is the tiny islet of Strombolicchio, topped by a lighthouse, bearing the unusual profile of a horse’s head.

The crater – The hike up to the Stromboli crater is a unique and fascinating experience as it provides the opportunity to enjoy a breathtaking natural phenomenon. The route itself is beautiful, with unforgettable views. The crater comprises five vents. Explosions and other volcanic phenomenons can be watched from a few hundreds meters away.

Ascent to the volcano – 5 hours trip. From the ferry jetty at San Vincenzo, once an important stop for mediterranean ships, head for the centre of the village and follow the tarred road to San Bartolo. Before long, the typical white houses dwindle to none, a mule-track begins (follow the signs), at first paved with slabs of lava and then, after a few bends, degenerating into a well-worn footpath. After some twenty minutes there is an observatory point called Punta Labronzo (refreshments available and fine view of the craters). Beyond that, the route continues through a mule-track stretching amidst a rich vegetation with at the end a breathtaking view of the Sciara del Fuoco, the great black slope down which clunks of lava make their way from the crater to the sea. Then starts a steep track cut deeply into the side of the mountain, excavated by water erosion, leading to a reddish lava section where care should be taken in the awkward scramble upwards. To the left of this section extends a fine view over the village and Strombolicchio, nearly 700m below. The path climbs up a broad, steep and sandy ridge to the summit. Level with craters, safely tucked away behind low semicircular walls, are the first viewing points from where the eruptions may be observed at leisure. At this altitude, the craters appear between intermittent clouds of vapour. A final stretch leads to the highest – as well as closest to the crater vents – point. The view, especially if with a favorable light wind, is spectacular. Startling explosions shoot matter high into the air, tingeing the night’s blackness with red.

Evening boat trip – This is the best way to enjoy an overall picture of the island and experience all of its different aspects.


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