The 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.
The Greek mythology ascribes the islands to Aeolus, and suggest that Odysseus temporarily sheltered there during his travels. There he would met cyclops Polyphemus.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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 alike.
Those 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.
Connections – 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.
Accommodation – 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 citadel.
Banking facilities – Beware that the only cashpoints in the Aeolian Islands are on Lipari, in Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Credit cards are not universally accepted.
Boating 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 evening trip).
Recreational 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.
THE 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.
Lipari is the main town on the island. Clearly visible, as you approach the island from the sea, are the top of the town, the fortified city with behind (visible if you come from Marina Lunga) the former Franciscan convent, now Town Hall. Far below at its feet sit the two bays of Marina Corta, watched by the small church of the Anime del Purgatorio (once isolated on a rock, now linked to the mainland) and by the 1600’s church of San Giuseppe, and of Marina Lunga, the larger of the two inlets. On the last night of the festival of St. Bartholomew on 24 August, Marina Corta is illuminated by a magnificent display of fireworks, set off from the sea. The lower part of town or città bassa, with its main street Corso Vittorio Emanuele lined with charming shops and restaurants, provides the perfect context for the traditional passeggiata (walk).
Castello – This is how they refer to the citadel, a structure constructed on a Greek acropolis before being surrounded by walls in the 13th century. In the 16th century Charles V had it reinforced after the town was sacked by Barbarossa. It is best approached from piazza Mazzini, by the most ancient route: past the fortifications and the Greek tower (dating back to the 4th century BC), with its great medieval portcullis (12th-13th century), lies the heart of the citadel. On the right is the Chiesa di Santa Caterina, with beyond it, an archaeological area which has been excavated to reveal superimposed layers of dwellings (huts), buildings and roads from various periods spanning the Bronze Age (Capo Graziano culture) through to Hellenistic and ancient Roman times. Behind sits the Chiesetta dell’Addolorata and the 18th century Chiesa dell’Immacolata. Left of these, in the centre, rises the cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of the Eolian Islands, Saint Bartholomew: medieval in plan, it was rebuilt during the Spanish domination, while the façade dates back to the 19th century. The adjacent cloister is Norman. Opposite is a flight of steps dating from the early 20th century; to build it some of the ancient walls had to be demolished.
Museo Archeologico Eoliano – The collections are accomodated within several different buildings, displayed in sections relating the history of the islands from the Prehistoric to the Classic times. Special sections are devoted to marine archaeology and vulcanology. Most of the relics are from excavations undertaken since 1949. At the entrance to each room are explanatory panels of two different types: the first type, more detailed, is for visitors who wish to complete a thorough tour of the museum; the other, red, provides the basic facts pertaining to the successive development of cultures.
The section on Lipari Prehistory begins with a room entirely reserved to obsidian, the glass-like volcanic stone which has been so prized for its strenght and razor-sharp cutting edge; although fragile, it was widely used and exported in Antiquity for making tools. The Capo Graziano culture (1800-1400 BC, owing its name to an area in Filicudi island) and the ensuing Capo Milazzese’s (from Panarea) marked a period of high prosperity for the islands (room 5 and 6), characterized by a demographic and commercial increase. Evidence for this is provided by the presence of large Mycenean vases likely traded here for raw materials. The following epoch (13th- 9th century BC), known as the Ausonian period, after the people that, according to historian Diodorus Siculus, arrived from the Italian mainland, is classified according to various criteria: there are many one-handled bowls with horn-shaped appendages (probably intended to ward off evil spirits) which, later on, evolve into stylised forms of animal heads (rooms 7 and 9). Room 10 onwards is devoted to the Greek and Roman ages. After being long abandoned, the acropolis at Lipari was colonized by people from Knidos and Rhodes (6th century BC). The lid of the Bothros (votive pit) of Aeolus, with its stone lion-cum-handle (room 10) is particularly striking. The cult of Aeolus seems to have been shared by both established residents and colonizers. The other glass-cases contain the “offerings” found in the pit.
The buildings opposite contain rooms devoted to the prehistory of the smaller islands and to vulcanology (building at left); the geological evolution of the islands is explained through boards, diagrams and scale models.
The chronological display continue in the building north of the cathedral (the nmbering of the rooms has been inverted in the first three rooms: Room 18 leads through to room 17 and then 16 before continuing with 19, etc.). The reconstruction of the Bronze Age necropolis (12th century BC) is particularly interesting: this compares burial after cremation (12th century BC) – when urns containing the ashes are covered with bowls and placed inside small pits dug in the ground (room 17), with information burials (14th century BC) – when large pithoi or jars (containing the curled-up body of the dead person) were simply interred in the ground. Trading vassels encountering storms at sea often came in to shore to find shelter; on their route were two notable black spots renowned as being highly dangerous; Capo Graziano (on Filicudi) and the area known as Le Formiche (the Ants which consists of treacherous rocks hidden just below the surface just off Panarea). From these two places have been retrieved the shipwrecked cargo of some twenty trading vassels that comprised large numbers of amphorae of various types, of which the museum has a vast collection (see Marine Archaeology section). The grave goods, dating from the 6th-5th century BC, include an unusual array of rather coarsely modelled clay figurines (room 21), which are of particular interest in that they re-enact different domestic tasks; a mother washes a child, a woman intent on making soup in a bowl and another grinds grain with a mortar, on the edge of which perches a cat. Among the fine examples of red-figure ware, made in Sicily or mainland Italy, emerges one depicting a highly unusual scen (360 BC): a naked acrobat balances in a hand-stand before Dionysus and two comic actors with exaggerated features. Behind the group, in two panels, are painted the portraits of two additional actors. In the same glass are three vases by the so-called painter of Adrastus (king of Argos); the third one bears a very dramatic scene where, under the portico of the palace of Argos, Tydeus confronts Polynices, the son of Oedipus, who was exiled from Thebes.
The cult of Dionysus, god not only of the wine, but also of the theatre and celestial bliss (for those who were initiated into its mysteries) explains the inclusion, among the grave goods recovered from votive pits, of statuettes of actors and theatrical masks; the museum has an extremely rich, varied and ancient collection of such objects (room 23), which is quite unique. The last section of the museum is devoted to Lipari’s Hellenistic and Roman epochs (a big quantity of moulded oil lamps stamped with different kinds of decoration is held); also displayed are various artefacts (notably ceramics) relating to the Norman, Spanish, Renaissance and Baroque periods.
Parco Archeologico – On the far side of the citadel on the right. In the archaeological gardens are aligned numerous ancient sarcophagi. From the terrazza there is an enchanting view over the little church of the Anime del Purgatorio, jutting out into the sea opposite Marina Corta, and Vulcano on the horizon.
Tour of the island – 27km round trip; set out from Lipari città in the direction of Canneto, to the north.
Canneto – This small village set back from the great sweep of coast is a favorite spot from where to set out for the white beaches, visible from Canneto, that are accessible by a footpath. The clear sea is due to the high content of pumice dust. From the harbour of Canneto, it is possible to visit the pumice quarries near Porticello. The simplest way, what is also the most picturesque and traditional, is to go by boat with one of the many fishermen who buzz about the harbour; the other way is by bus.
Cave di Pomice a Porticello – This lovely bay is lined by a mass of pumice quarries and workshops; all, save the last and most northern, are now abandoned. Waste resulting from the extraction and working of the stone accumulates naturally in mounds of fine white sand along the shore, which hardens with time. On the beach, lie small fragments of black obsidian. The scene is strangely compelling: the sea is of the palest tinges of blue, as clear as glass (revelaing the pumice-lined seabed), old wooden jetties once used for loading pumice onto boats are ghostly still. One of the bathers’ favorite pastimes is to climb the white mounds and cover themselves with pumice dust to smooth their skin. The keenest kids can then emulate the children in the scene from Kaos (by film-makers Taviani brothers), who hurled themselves down the mounds, roly-poly fashion, straight into the sea (however, the sea is now about a metre away). Dramatic views of the white pumice slopes of Campo Bianco can be enjoyed along the road especially at sunset. For a split second, the scene might evoke some alpine context among tall snow-covered slopes.
A little further on is the Fossa delle Rocche Rosse, where the island’s most impressive flow of obsidian can be admired.
Beyond Acquacalda is Puntazze, offering a beautiful view spanning five islands: from left to right are Alicudi, Filicudi, Salina, Panarea and Stromboli.
Stufe di San Calogero – Just beyond Pianoconte, take right. The water of this hot springs have been famous for their therapeutic properties since Antiquity. Amongst ruins of ancient buildings (alongside a modern spa which was unfortunately closed), is a domed chamber. This is likely the oldest thermal complex, and indeed the only Hellenistic building, still in use today even if it only provides people with “DIY” therapy requiring them to splash themselves with water that springs from the ground at a temperature of 60°C.
Quattrocchi – This belvedere opens out on a beautiful panorama with Punta S. Iacopo and Punta Perciato in the foreground. Behind are the faraglioni, big rocks emerging from the waters, and, in the background, the island of Vulcano. The Odissey tells that these were hurled by Polyphemus against Ulysses who had blinded him by thrusting a flaming stake into his only eye; the hero then escaped with his companions by clinging to the bellies of rams belonging to the Cyclops. A beautiful view of Lipari can be enjoyed as you approach the town on your tour.
Boat trip around the island – Departures from Marina Corta. A boat tour offers the opportunity to explore the island’s jagged coastline, dotted with arches, boulders and craggy rocks.
Lipari is the largest and the most populated of the Aeolian islands. Its physical relief, with its gentle lowlands, has prompted a number of towns to spring up both along the coast and inland.
Inhabited since the antiquity and renowned for its obsidian, the island enjoyed great prosperity although it was often subject to raids and attacks among which is the one launched by Turk Kaireddin Barbarossa, who, in 1544, landed at Porto delle Genti (a small hamlet near Lipari) and ravaged the city killing or deporting the population as slaves to Africa.
The main moorings on the island are in the town of Lipari, which is served by two ports: Marina Corta is used by the hydrofoils and by smaller craft, while ferries moor at Marina Lunga. From here, it is easy to get to the island’s other towns, that are Canneto, Acquacalda, Quattropiani and Pianoconte. It is advisable to tour the island by car or bike, also available at various hire places.
Time for a treat
The Pasticceria Subba, at 92, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, in Lipari city, has been making fabulous goodies: cannoli (filled with ricotta cheese), cassate (brimming with candied fruit), pasta paradiso (melting moments) and ice-cream.
A special evening meal
The restaurant E Pulera, in via Diana, only opens for dinner from June to October, dining outside, in a charming garden. In July and August, typical Aeolian dishes are served accompanied by traditional music and folkloristic shows.
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.
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.
With its distinctive two-humped profile (hence its ancient name Didyme, meaning twins),
Salina is a solitary and quiet island, perfect for who wants to spend a relaxing holiday at one with nature. Originally comprised of six volcanoes of which four have disappeared over time, it derives its present name from the saltworks, now abandoned, at Lingua, a tiny village on the southern coast. Capers and grapes, the latter used to produce the worldwide famous Malvasia delle Lipari are the island’s most important and typical products.
Salina has two landing stages: Santa Maria Salina and the little Rinella di Leni (where is also a campsite which is crowded during during the second and third weeks of August).
Trips inland – By car or moped (ask the local inhabitants for information on hiring points). A bus service is also available; time table are displayed at Santa Maria Salina harbor.
A panoramic road offering many views of the jagged coastline links the harbor with the island’s other hamlets. From the main town Santa Maria Salina, the road heads northwards, past Capo Faro, on its way to Malfa. Then, it continues along the coastline above Punta del Perciato, with its natural arch but visible from the sea or from Pollara beach, a little further on,
considered the most beautiful beach on the island. Nearby is the (private) house where
scenes of Troisi’s Il Postino (The Postman) were filmed. It was here that the meetings between poet Neruda (Philip Noiret) and the postman (Massimo Troisi) took place.
Spiaggia di Pollara – The beautiful Pollara beach is accessible by two different paths: one leads to a small anchorage enclosed by its own miniature shoreline of rocks; the other opens out in a wide beach overshadowed by a striking white semicircular cliff-wall, a remnant of the crater.
On returning to Malfa, the road forks inland to Valdichiesa, where is the Santuario della Madonna del Terzito, a destination of pilgrims, and Rinella di Leni.
Fossa delle Felci – This is the taller of the two mounts in Salina, with a beautiful fern wood (hence its name), recently designated as a protected area. It is reachable through a 2 hours foot-path going from the Santuario della Madonna del Terzito to Valdichiesa. Another route starts from Santa Maria Salina.
The world-known Malvasia delle Lipari is a strong, sweet, golden wine made from grapes
that have been left to wither on the vine before being picked. Its smooth, aromatic flavour makes it an excellent dessert wine. There are various types of Malvasia available. The Doc endorsed variety, produced only on the islands, must bear the words Malvasia delle Lipari in full on the label.
The smallest of the Aeolian Islands rises to its highest point with Punta del Corvo (420m), its western flank plunging steeply down into the sea. The eastern side has gentler slopes ending in a tall black lava coastline skirted by small pebbled beaches. To the south-east, near Punta Milazzese, the remnants of a prehistoric village dominate the fine bay of Cala Junco. All around the island emerge isles and rocks including the dreaded Formiche’s (Ants), just below the water surface, which have been the cause of many shipwrecks since Antiquity.
Steep slopes and a rocky, mostly basalt, coastline, are the main features of this small island consisting of a group of craters, the tallest of which is the Fossa delle Felci (773m). The island counts three hamlets with a total population of 250 inhabitants.
From its landing stage at Filicudi Porto, it is simple to reach the prehistoric village situated on the promontory of Capo Graziano, about forty minutes there and back, with the remains of some 25 ancient and roughly oval huts. The settlement dates from the Bronze Age, here transferred from another site on the shore, so that it could be better defended against possible attacks (for relics discovered at the site see the Museo Archeologico di Lipari section). The site provides a fine view of the bay, the Fossa delle Felci and Alicudi, in the distance on the left. If approaching by sea, a stop to visit the huge cave of Grotta del Bue Marino is a must. A tallest volcanic rock known as the Canna, due to its shape, rises offshore.
The most isolated of the Aeolian Islands, it consists of a round cone covered with heather (hence its ancient name Ericusa). Inhabited by some 140 people, it has remained unchanged since the dawn of time. It has a single village that groups together a handful of pastel-colored houses scattered at the foot of the mountain; the village rises up to the Filo dell’Arpa, offering a fine panoramic view (the foot-path snakes its way from Chiesa di San Bartolo up through the cultivated terraces. About 1 hour 45 minutes to the top and back, at a brisk pace).