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Vulcano is an island of 21sqm belonging to the Aeolian Archipelago. According to Greek mythology, here was placed the forge of Hephaestus, the god of fire, who worked as a blacksmith with the assistance of the Cyclops. But the island was named after the Roman name of the God, that is Vulcan, hence the term vulcanology.

The very existence of the island results from the fusion of four volcanoes; the largest and most dominant peak, Vulcano della Fossa, rising up to 391m of reddish rock. Beside is the smaller Vulcanello, 123m, which erupted on the north side in 183 BC. Although the last eruption dates back to 1890, the volcano has never ceased to betray signs of its activity; even today, such phenomenons as fumaroles, jets and steam above and below sea level and sulphurous mud, highly prized for its therapeutic properties, continue to be very much in evidence.

Volcano’s shoreline is much jagged sometimes resembling tentacles plunging into the sea, its colour ranging from red to ochre-yellow and featuring a scenery of wild and haunting beauty.

Porto di Levante e Porto di Ponente – Between the two island’s harbours, stretches the main town Porto di Levante, full of small shops and furnished with contemporary sculptures made of lava stone.

Ascent to the crater – about 2 hours there and back. From the end of the main road

from Porto di Levante, the track to the crater gently climbs up along a flank of the mountain offering enchanting views over the archipelago. In the foreground is the Vulcanello peninsula, opposite is Lipari, to the left stands Salina, with its characteristic two humps; in the distance lie Filicudi, Panarea, on the right with its isles, and Stromboli in the far background. About half-way up to the top, is an area of compacted red earth, cut with deep regular furrows,

suggestive of some Martian landscape. The higher the path climbs, the stronger is sulphur smell, combined with occasional cloud of steam. At the top is a magnificent scenery with the Cratere della Fossa’s huge bowl with its southern rim blurred by clouds of boiling sulphurous vapours released from cracks in the crust with a whistle that seems to emanate from deep within the earth; the rock is stained yellow ochre and red by the fumes that condense into the most delicate crystals while still hot. These are the so-called fumarole.

A tour of the crater, taking about 30 minutes, permits an exploration of the southern part of the island and, from the highest point, to enjoy one of the most astonishing sights of all the archipelago.

The beaches – Two of Vulcano’s beaches are nestled near the main town. The sabbie nere (black beaches), so-called because of its black colored sand of volcanic origin, stretches along a fine bay that is, sadly, too crowded in summer; the beach of the Fumarole is bathed by warm waters that are heated by bubbles of sulphurous steam, able to reach a dangerous temperature (beware of being scalded).

The secluded and less frequented Gelso beach is on the opposite side of the island, reachable by sea, by bus leaving from Porto di Levante (check time schedule as services are highly restricted) or car, driving the Provincial road Porto Levante to Vulcano Piano which forks for Gelso and Capo Grillo).

Excursion to the Grotta del Cavallo and Piscina di Venere – Departures by boat from the black beaches. The boat skirts around Vulcanello, with its Valley of Monsters, before circumnavigating the most jagged part of the coast on the way to this glorious grotto named after the sea horses that once lived there. On the left is Venus’ pool, a shallow pool with clearest water, an idyllic place for an unforgettable swim (those who wish to stay for a few hours can go with one of the early boat trips, which run fairly regularly throughout the day, and return on one of the later ones; check with the fisherman).

Fanghi – Mud is one of Vulcano’s attractions. Leaving the port on the right, behind a

rock of incredible colors ranging trhough every shade of yellow to red, there is a natural pool containing sulphurous mud renowned for its therapeutic properties.

Some advices about mud therapy – Mud treatment is recommended for people with rheumatic ailments and dermatological conditions (greasy skin, acne, psoriasis). Not recommended for expectant mothers, people suffering from tumour-related disease, or with fevers, heart conditions, osteoporosis, gastro-intestinal upsets, uncompensated diabetes and Flajany’s disease.

Recommendations: short immersions (never over 20 minutes) in the coolest hours, followed by a hot shower. Do not apply to the eyes. In the event of mud getting into the eyes, rinse liberally with fresh water. For any ailments resulting from mud baths, consult a doctor.

La Valle dei Mostri – On Vulcanello. A trip is especially recommended at dawn or sunset, when the evocative shapes of the rocks, caught by the sun’s rays, are most impressive. The Valley of Monsters is the name given to a downward slope of black sand, dotted here and there with blocks of lava that have cooled into weird forms and provocative profiles suggestive of prehistoric animals, monsters and wild beasts (including a bear reared up on its hind legs and a crouching lion).

Capo Grillo – some 10 km from Porto Levante. The local road, leading to Vulcano Piano and beyond to the cape, offers fine views of Lipari and the great crater and, from the promontory, across the archipelago.


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