the aeolian islands cruise 7 days
The Aeolian islands cruise is an experience recommended for all travelers: families with kids, honeymooners, friends. We can deliver boat departure from Riposto or Milazzo.
The Archipelago is located on the northern area of Sicily, in the middle of the Tyrrhenian sea. Locals use to call the islands the Seven Sisters of the Rainbow. Formed millions years ago from submarine eruptions, the mythology describes this area as the homeland of Aeolus the Winds God, but we also read about the islands in the Ulysses chronicles written by the poet Homer. The distance from mainland Sicily is about 25 miles for the nearer Vulcano and 35 miles for the farer Stromboli. Each island has a magical landscape and territory to unveil. Following a detailed description of each island, which represents the basic itinerary we propose. If you wish the most from this journey, we can tailor your cruise with on site private esperiences: wine tasting, starred Michelin lunch, Volcano climbing and driven guided tour for the larger Lipari.
Vulcano is 21 km2 (8 sq mi) and rises to 501 m (1,644 ft) above sea level. separated by a 750 m (2,461 ft)-wide strait from Lipari to the north. The population is about 450 residents. The majority of the population resides in Vulcano Porto on the north side of the island, with secondary population centres at Vulcano Piano and Vulcanello. The Ancient Greeks named this island Therasía and Thérmessa, source of heat. In the myths it was the private foundry of the Olympian god Hephaestus, the patron of blacksmiths. Similarly, the Romans believed that Vulcano was the chimney of their god Vulcan’s workshop. The Romans used the island mainly for raw materials, harvesting timber and mining alum and sulfur. These were the principal activities on the island until the end of the nineteenth century. After Bourbon rule collapsed in 1860, the Scottish industrialist James Stevenson bought the northern part, built a villa, reopened the local mines, and planted vineyards for making Malmsey wine. Stevenson lived on Vulcano until the last major eruption in 1888. It’s interesting to know that the film Vulcano (released in the U.S. as Volcano) was filmed on Vulcano and the nearby island of Salina between 1949 and 1950. Once in this island you can enjoy the typical hot springs and mud bath. Walking the central street which connects Vulcanello to the port of Baia Levante, with its characteristics local shops and restaurant. Then navigate at sunset sipping a glass of bubbles in the magical scenery of the several bays that sourrounds the island, all with mythical names such as Grotta del cavallo, Piscina di Venere and Scoglio dell’Amore. We suggest to spend one night in Vulcano and then head to Lipari the second day of your cruise.
Lipari is the largest and most populated of the archipelago. The island has the biggest town, a lively busy place with picturesque streets, an attractive harbour and a historic castle-citadel. The highest point is Monte Chirica at 602 m (1975 ft). The island’s population is around 10,000, in a surface area of 37.6 km.
When Sicily and southern Italy were colonised by Ancient Greeks, Lipari was an important and well-off town, as is demonstrated by the extensive Necropolis Diana, where many of the archaeological finds were uncovered, and high quality of grave goods found on the island, many examples of which can be seen in the town museum. The position has always made it important for maritime trade, and the island has a rare and valuable resource: black volcanic obsidian, used for knives and sharp implements. The natural harbour of Lipari town is dominated by a rock outcrop called the “Castle” which presents different walls stratifications from ancient Greeks till Spanish domination. Walking up to the town’s citadel visitors can see excavations revealing many levels of history. Until recently one of its main industries was extraction of pumice, created by past eruptions. Besides the main town, most of the year-round population resides in one of the four main villages: Pianoconte, Quattropani, Acquacalda and Canneto. Lipari is the most rich on attraction. Firstly the archaeological museum called the Museo Archeologico Regionale Eoliano “Luigi Bernabò Brea”. The collections are very fine, from ranks of assembled amphorae salvaged from wrecks, to high-quality Greek vases. The museum is particularly renowned for its hoard of models of Greek theatrical masks, mostly found in tombs on the island.
Lipari town is a very pleasant place, with pretty streets and lanes perfect for wandering around. There are some elegant historic town-houses as well as plenty of more humble island-dwellings, with balconies bedecked with flowers, washing, onions and peppers. The main street is Corso Vittorio Emanuele, a lively little road which runs from Marina Lunga along the back of the castle headland. Along the Corso you’ll find most of the island’s useful shops and services a small supermarket; a bookshop; clothes boutiques; cafe-bars; restaurants; souvenir shops; speciality food stores. Other small streets and alleys head off Corso Vittorio Emanuele, connecting it with the castle and with Marina Corta. There are a lot of appealing shops selling souvenirs and good-quality local food and drink; including huge quantities of the local capers and Malvasia wine – both very good items to take home, if your luggage will allow it.
You can spend a day visiting the museum, it’s interesting to have a private drive tour around the island on its principal circular road, with breaks at viewpoints and ruins. At least you can also ask for a private wine tasting to the Tenuta Castellaro one of the most renewed wine producers of this island.
We suggest to base your cruise almost 2 nights in Lipari to enjoy a complete experience of the Island if you like a mix of navigation and visits.
From Lipari you can easily reach Salina, the ‘green’ island, where the landscape is full of little vineyards, colourful flowers clamber rampantly among picturesque village houses. While all the other islands are part of the Comune (council district) of Lipari, Salina has three small comuni of its own, Malfa, Santa Marina Salina and Leni, spread around the slopes of the island. The island has two ports Santa Marina Salina and Rinella. It also has a couple of small museums, a handful of small mostly-pebble beaches, several walking routes including footpaths up the taller of the two island peaks.
Santa Marina Salina is a small and picturesque village. Beneath wooded slopes descending from the island’s highest peak, Fossa delle Felci, the heart of town is essentially two streets: one small waterfront road which links Santa Marina to the other villages, and one pretty pedestrianised ‘high street’ running uphill just inland from the harbour and church. Here you’ll find restaurants, cafés, take-away Sicilian street food, small grocery stores and tourist boutiques selling souvenirs, island fashions and local food products. Malfa is a most rural village with one sleepy crossroads next to a church, café tables offer a view of the world going by, and a handful of shops and restaurants are strung along a narrow street. It doesn’t have many specific tourist sights, it’s easy to spend a couple of hours exploring lanes, taking photographs and admiring the scenery. Uphill from the centre, behind the church of San Lorenzo, is an interesting little museum of emigration, dedicated to the many islanders who headed to Australia and America. Lingua is a little settlement at the end of the coastal road south from Santa Marina Salina. It’s a very pleasant place to stay for a few hours. There is a short promenade walk along the sea, a tiny piazza full of café/restaurant tables, some scattered dwellings inland, and an ancient salt lagoon. The salt pans here, now consisting of a single large pool, were in use in Roman times and gave the island of Salina its name. Overlooking the lagoon is the Museo Civico, an interesting museum of local traditions, with artefacts and exhibits relating to Salina’s history and industries, from fishing to caper-harvesting. The most renowned eatery is Da Alfredo, famed for both its fresh fruit granita (the classic Sicilian ice-slush, rated as one of the best in Italy) and local speciality pane cunzato, a kind of seasoned bread piled high with local ingredients. There are tables in the square overlooking the sea, and a restaurant just behind the square. Pane cunzato makes a good lunch or simple evening meal. Many travel here just for the granite, sampling flavours like fig, wild island blackberry, mulberry, almond, peach and prickly pear, sometimes combining two together.
We suggest a private drive to this spot village or a special wine tasting Lunch in Capofaro Resort owned by the family Barone di Villagrande. This resort host one of the starred Michelin restaurant of Sicily, Il Cappero. Because of the short distance with Lipari, you can return and spend the night there.
Panarea is the smallest (only 3sq.km) and lowest of the Aeolian islands, but also the oldest, geologically speaking. For an escape, Panarea is the perfect destination. This chic little island attracts VIPs, celebrities and Italy’s wealthy youth, who come in the summer for yachting breaks, romantic escapes and late-night partying on terraces with views. Although of a long history, notably the ruins of a Bronze Age settlement, the profits of tourism mean there’s not much of the gritty or authentic left of Panarea nowadays. The island is very small, and best for relaxation. Panarea has a network of mule paths, mostly fallen into disuse and overgrown, but a few of which are still cleared and in regular use. The walking route up from the harbour to the island’s summit, Punta del Corvo, is straightforward. You can do this walk as part of a panoramic circular route which will lead you on downhill from the summit to the southern end of the island. This footpath is fine, though it is near the cliff edge and can feel exposed in places. The descent continues through old agricultural terraces where donkeys graze. Here you’ll find a lovely pebble beach in a dramatic rocky cove called Cala Junco, which is one of the sights of Panarea. One of the most significant archaeological sites in the whole archipelago is located alongside.
The Bronze Age settlement of Capo (or Punta) Milazzese is situated on a flat-topped headland high above the sea overlooking Cala Junco, and is connected to the rest of the island only by a narrow neck of land. It consists of more than twenty dry-stone hut circles. The settlement was excavated in the twentieth century, and archaeologists gave its name to a phase of development in the local Bronze Age, the Milazzese period. It’s thought that the village was abandoned after a sudden and violent destruction.
It’s easy to spend a half-hour exploring the lanes and waterfront of San Pietro, with its little boutiques and many picturesque corners. Panarea has a good selection of pretty restaurants and bars with terraces close to the harbour, with lovely views.
We suggest to enjoy the sea view of Panarea swimming in the bays around the Island then visit for lunch before to head to Stromboli.
Stromboli is an ancient and active volcano rising massively from the sea, with a couple of small settlements on the coast. It has been erupting continuously for two thousand years and it gives its name to a type of eruption: strombolian. The Romans called it the ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.’ Locals refer to the volcano as ‘iddu,’ a dialect word meaning ‘him.’ The island has been inhabited for thousands of years; some Greek-era archaeological finds are now in the museum on Lipari. Life on the island was based on farming and on fishing. This island is an incredible and inspiring sight, with a unique atmosphere that attracts film-makers and style-setters (Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and designers Dolce and Gabbana – who own a villa – are among celebrities who holiday here) By the middle of the twentieth century, prompted by a big eruption in 1930 which damaged buildings, many of the islanders had departed and the population had dwindled. But after Roberto Rossellini’s 1950 film Stromboli terra di Dio drew attention to the island-volcano’s unique attractions, tourism began to give new life to Stromboli.
Climbing the volcano is only permitted with an offical guide, and there is a limit to the number of people allowed to visit the crater each day. Walks generally set off in the late afternoon, to arrive at the crater for pyrotechnics at dusk. The outing takes around five hours, and should only be attempted if you are confident of your fitness. There is one principal settlement on Stromboli, clustered on slopes near the seashore. The lane climbs up to the heart of the village with souvenir shops, and flowers clambering over whitewashed buildings, visitors arrive at the little piazza in the part of Stromboli called San Vincenzo. The island’s principal church, the Chiesa di San Vincenzo, makes a pretty picture against the slopes of the volcano. Here you’ll find a cafe, a panoramic terrace from where you can take awesome pictures of Strombolicchio.
We suggest to enjoy a walk around the main village, looking at volcano souvenirs in little shops and enjoy a dinner in one of the local trattorias. Then return on board to navigate around the Sciara del Fuoco, the steep black lava scar down the volcano’s side, where you can see Stromboli’s explosions. This is a must after dark, when fiery emissions are clearly visible.
Filicudi is the penultimate of the seven islands. The island extends for 9.5 km² of which only a small part is inhabited. Its top part consists of the mount “Fossa Felci” which is 774 meters high above sea level. The marvelous coastline is in some points overhanging the sea while in others there are characteristic flat beaches like the beach “delle punte” under Cape Graziano.
There are numerous inlets and bays, full of ravines where crystal clear water laps against the black lava rock that plunges into the sea and continues underwater creating winding paths and submarine valleys of rare beauty. On the west of the island there are the most impressice rocks: Montenassari, Mitra, Notary and above Canna. This one emerge about 74 meters above sea level. On the north west of the island, very close to the coast, there is the rock called “the Giafante”.
Imposing rocks of eruptive nature rise from the sea like stacks, but there are also numerous caves, the most famous of which is the Bue Marino cave (literally “Marine Seal”) which has a crystalline blue backdrop. There are countless terraces built by man to snatch every meter of land to dedicate it to agriculture. The volcanic nature of the island offers a multitude of narrow valleys and majestic perpendicular cliffs, in which the alternation of multi-colored stratifications testifies to a tumultuous geological life. Another attraction of Filicudi is the rock in the shape of a horse’s head on the south side of the island, visible from the driveway that leads from the port towards Pecorini in the only long straight stretch. At one time the island was quite completely cultivated with great difficulty by its inhabitants, while today despite the progress of the technique it is no longer convenient to cultivate anything, being the majority of the earnings of the approximately 270 islanders deriving from tourism. However capers and figs, olives and vines are still cultivated, although in minor scale.
We suggest to spend a day navigating around the island to swim in all these spectacular volcanic spots and sip a glass of bubbles at sunset before to return.
The island of Alicudi is the least inhabited and one of the smallest of the Aeolian Islands. It is rugged and wild in the middle of a deep blue and crystal clear sea with fewer than 100 inhabitants. Its rugged charm and isolation attract a particular brand of voyager: adventurers, artists, writers and loners looking for some peace to reflect or to work. There is no nightlife on this island, only the voice of the sea. There is no marina, and it can only be reached by small temporary moorings. It is a rock with only one bar and a single road, along which, at night, you can shine torches. The village, nestled on top of the “rock”, offers a challenging climb to reach it. Historically, Alicudi must have been a brutal place to live, many emigrated, and some of their homes were deserted. But, like the other islands, Alicudi’s star has been rising over recent decades. There are now a few holiday homes. The primitive isolation of island life, with no traffic, no noise pollution and few conveniences, has become a selling point for those looking to escape the modern world. The island can be circumnavigated to discover delightful ravines.
We suggest to manage with the Captain if you really want to afford the long navigation to see this island which is however seenable from Filicudi.
ask for more information