Date of visit: March 2014
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned
Sicily, home of the olive, the alichino, the animated hand gesture, and the string of volcanic islands off the north eastern tip, click on the following link for our Stromboli hiking blog.
We flew into Catania airport, where we jumped on a bus (from the airport) direct to the harbour town of Milazzo. This is the place where the ferries depart from to the Aeolian Islands. Ustica and Serimar were the main ferry companies and ran a regular service.
First stop, Stromboli! What a place; the furthest of the islands from the Sicilain main land, this is an active volcanic island with a small town at the bottom of it. The locals are great and so welcoming, and the price of beers were next to nothing! The main reason for visiting Stromboli, was of course to climb the mountain and see the volcanic eruptions from the top. We did the hike with magmatrek which were one of the companies on the islands to take people up the mountain. You can do the trek yourself, but only to the 400m mark, anything above that you need an experienced guide. The hike took about 5 hours return, and the views at the top were some of the best I have experienced with 3 active craters spewing out lava in an amazing firework-like display by mother nature. A well earned beer was waiting for us at the near by restaurant at the bottom.
Next day, we went to Lipari, which is a bit more of a tourist town, a lot of people use this island to base themselves for the Aeolian adventures. We hired scooters from ‘Pit Stop’ for 15 euro each for the day, this gave us the freedom to roam the island at our own whim, and check out the sites while getting the fresh air in our hair (definitely recommended but just be careful, one of our crew crashed his scooter and it cost him 220 euro on the spot.)
Our final stop before hitting the mainland was the island of Vulcano. A smaller island but with a massive crater up the mountain which stood at about 400m above sea level. This one you could hike on your own and was pretty straight forward to get up (about a 2km walk total, but the gradient was very steep in some stages). The views from the top were amazing, and there were sulphur blow holes which flowed pungent gas into the crater below. We spent a good hour at the top taking in the scenic views around us and realizing that the world is a pretty cool place! We went to the mud baths by the port for a soak to rid of any aches and cramps before jumping on a ferry back to the mainland. Entry to the mud baths is 2 euro, plus 1 euro extra for a shower (well recommended), my main tip from this is to wear old clothing, as my shorts still stink of sulphur after going through the wash 5 times!
All in all, an amazing experience and well worth the effort. Don’t be put off by the organisation of it all, as ferries and busses were easy to get. Just book your flights and accommodation, sit back and relax!
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Overall rating destination: 4 out of 5