Between Sicily and the toe of Italy’s boot, the Tyrrhenian Sea is dotted with the idyllic Aeolian Islands. These Italian holiday destinations are actually volcanic peaks of varying dormancy. Their proximity to each other makes climbing two in one day easy. Here’s how…
Watch sunrise on tranquilo Salina (or festive Lipari).
Take earliest ferry to neighboring Vulcano.
Get hiking. Up the 1,300-foot volcano takes about 60 minutes (30 if you are West.)
Take in a breathtaking view of the entire archipelago.
Smell the sulphur and watch the smoke dissipate across the crater.
Wave goodbye before heading back down to the port.
Splash in the sea or carb up on Da Alfredo’s famous pane cunzato and granita back in Lingua village on Salina before taking the afternoon ferry to Stromboli.
Disembark on Stromboli and walk through town to rent gear for the second volcano hike of the day.
Take a look back at town after a 5pm departure for the top.
Head straight up…
… And up as the flanks of the peak provide a break from the still-hot setting sun
…and up some more, donning hard hats and slogging through the final sandy slopes…
…to the top!
Get a seat for the show.
First the sunset…
Then the fireworks!
Enjoy what is probably the most impressive and closest view of an active volcano that you’ll ever see.
Hike down in the moonlight in the slushy, sandy mess. Watch the kids bound down. Resist the urge to empty your boots at every switchback.
The Good Stuff
- Where “Volcano” Began – The word “volcano” originated on tiny Vulcano. The ancient Romans called the island the chimney of the workshop of Vulcan, the god of blacksmiths.
- Vulcano is Easy – The volcano is just under 1,300 feet tall. Hikers don’t need a guide – just set off from the port. Accommodations are on the island if you prefer to stay the night.
- An Ancient Lighthouse – Stromboli is continuously active; the most recent major eruption was in 2009. Its reliability led ancient sailors to call it the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.”
- Plan for Stromboli – Get in touch with one of the trekking companies who will guide you to the top. We used Magmatrek whose staff we found to be a mix of very friendly and very condescending people – but all very safety conscious and competent. Consider a private guide if you have a family because the groups are quite large and hike quite fast. Gaining 980 meters in less than 3 hours, the hike is very difficult and NOT for everyone. My kids who are 12 and 14 did fine but younger kids who are only casual hikers might not make it.
- Great Outfitters – The gear shop across from the church rents everything from hiking poles to boots to packs to jackets for climbers. The gear we rented was quite new and of good quality.
- Mangia! – Lunch before or celebrate after at Ritrovo Ingrid, right across from the church.
- Stay the Night – You must stay the night on Stromboli because the hike doesn’t end until 10 or 11pm. We found Hotel Ossidiana clean and comfortable, if expensive (especially for the sea view if you are out hiking and not around to enjoy it.)
- A Show for Non Climbers – If you don’t want to climb to the peak, hike the 45 minutes out to Osservatorio Stromboli for a pizza dinner and a view of the eruption.
- Relax Elsewhere – Although Dolce & Gabanna are supposedly Stromboli regulars and Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini fell in love there, we found the other Aeolian Islands like Salina or Lipari more pleasant for hanging out.
- Easy to Reach – During summer, the Aeolian Islands are regularly served by ferries from Milazzo and by hydrofoils to Palermo.
Don Thompson – July 2015
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Keywords: family vacation, family travel, family holiday, travel with kids, family vacation in Sicily, family vacation in Italy, volcanoes with the family