Travel around the aeolian islands sicily

Travel around the Aeolian Islands Sicliy

November 20, 2014 2 Comments

View from Lipari - Aeolian Islands Sicliy
View from Lipari – Aeolian Islands Sicliy

The Aeolian Islands Sicily

The Aeolian are some picturesque volcanic islands due north of Sicily formed by volcanic activity, each with their own unique history and attributes.

We only had a short trip to Sicily which is a shame as we could quite easily have withered away a couple of weeks here.

When we first considered visiting the Aeolian Islands Sicily we decided to head to Salina Island the second largest island in the group of islands & the remains of 2 inactive volcanoes.

We were attracted by the multitude of activities including the salt lake, Roman tombs, hiking, black sand beaches, caves, swimming and various other activities including drinking some wine.

Now you remember the little part earlier about making the wrong choice of destination and ending up further away from the islands with less opportunity for tours etc…

Well this had come back to haunt us a little as Salina is a bit further away than say Lipari (the most common visit). This created a problem as we had less time on the islands than we wanted. Realistically it meant that while we could travel to Salina, if we did we wouldn’t have enough time to do all the things we wanted to there as the boats were infrequent and would make our time there too limited.

Instead we decided to breakdown the day a little more and head to 2 different islands as this would offer us enough time to comfortably see most of the bits we would like to have seen. Its true that we may not be able to get on a boat tour to sail around the islands but this wasn’t such a bad thing when you consider what is available on the other islands.

7am start, 3 hours on a boat and welcome to destination 1….
Vulcano - Aeolian Islands Sicliy
Approaching Volcano Aeolian Islands Sicily
Approaching Volcano Aeolian Islands Sicily

Vulcano – Aeolian Islands Sicliy

Can you guess why this island is named as it is?

For me there were 2 main attractions to this island, 1 the mud baths and 2 the wander up to the smoking main crater of the volcano.

We already had option 2 covered later in the trip as we are heading to Mt Etna (you will hear more about this later in the blog) but attraction number 1 is certainly not one to be sniffed at….

well not too deeply anyway as there is a lot of sulphur in the air to inhale on Vulcano ha ha!

Having hopped off the ferry after a long early morning snooze and avoided the usual tourist traps (people trying to sell their mum let alone a tour) we wandered away to the bubbling natural mud springs.

As you approach all you can smell is a wiff of sulphur in the air created from the volcanic activity that seems to surround you wherever you look.

Approaching the mud baths on Vulcano Sicily
Approaching the mud baths on Vulcano Sicily

If you do a bit of research before you go you will be well advised not to take anything to the island that you may wish to use again at some point as once you slip into the warm, relaxing, bubbly muddy goodness of the natural springs you can GUARANTEE that you / it will be smelling of sulphur for at least the near future

To enter the mud pools you will need to pay a small fee, I think it was only a few Euros each and we decided it would be a good idea to purchase a token for the shower and a towel to dry off with both of which you can buy when you get to the entrance.

All in all it cost about €10 for the 2 of us. You have a changing facility that looks like an old toilet cabin and then you can make your way into the lovely relaxing smelly sulphur pools bubbling away around you.

When you are in the pool you can feel the squishy mud underfoot and indulge in rubbing it all over you skin if you so desire, I thought to myself when In Rome do as the Romans do and covered myself in the warm ex-foliating mud rich in all that stuff the posh beauty products tell you about on the TV adds.

I was not alone there weren’t many people who didn’t have that odd grey / green muddy colour and when you are sat there in the pool under the warm sun you can’t help but feel privileged to just be there.

If you decide to move around the pool to fins the more muddy or more bubbly or warmer patch be a little careful as every now and then you surprise yourself with a steaming hot bit which will make you shift your butt a bit quicker than you may have expected! Ha ha

So after about 45 mins kicking back in the pool it was time to head out, get cleaned up and check out some more of what the island had to offer.

Head to the shower, put the token in an instant water… make sure you are quick though as it doesn’t last long and you really could do with getting clean.

You come out the shower feeling great with a new found softness to your skin and as I mentioned already you will end up smelling of Sulphur for a good few days after!

This is fine while you are on the island as that is all you can smell but what they don’t tell you is that pretty much everything you ware will smell of it and at varying levels over the next few days. (Don’t put the wet stuff in the same bag as other washing and if you can take old clothes you can throw away afterwards)

We took a wander about the island for the short time we had left and stopped for an unusual lunchtime treat two tone Pistachio Gelato ice cream in a brioche roll a tasty espresso and a local fresh lemon drink.

Not for the faint hearted and not something I would make a regular snack choice as these bad boys aren’t that easy to eat.

Off to the ferry and on to the next destination 2…..
Lipari - Aeolian Islands Sicily

Lipari – Aeolian Islands Sicily

Lipari is the biggest of the Aeolian Islands, it is the busiest, has a higher population, more towns, restaurants etc.

There is a lot more on offer here compared to some of the islands, when you arrive and how you choose what you want to do will largely depend on how much time you have there.

As you know We were only on a flyby tour really and so as much as we may have liked to get on a boat and tour around the island/islands we had already been in a fantastic mud pool and didn’t overly want to get the kit back on and get swimming in the sea.

When we arrived we were faced with some of these sites:

There is loads to do on the boat tours, you can head to the volcanic black sand beaches, cruise around the caves, do some sunbathing, possibly some snorkelling, swimming etc.

We decided to take an hour long tour of the island so that we could get out to all those view points on the tops of the hills and cliffs and to see some of the other towns and learn a little about the island.

There were olive fields, grape vines, a pumice mine, views of the other islands, a hugely sacred and appreciated old church Chiesa Vecchia di Quattropani and the back roads in the town.

The Chiesa Vecchia di Quattropani church is so well situated you get the most outstanding view to both the islands on the left side (Alicudi, Filicudi), the island of Salina and also the islands on the right side (Stromboli and Panarea)

It cost us €50 and we got a personal tour of the island, (sod getting a bike out for some of those hills) and taken to some of the spots the tour buses don’t go as simply they couldn’t fit through some of the streets! Bargain!

I know I could sit here and run through all the stuff we saw along the way but a photo speaks a thousand words. Check out some of these and see for yourself…

We got of the cab, paid the guy, praised him to his boss (which just so happened to be his dad) and headed off to walk the streets a little more ourselves.

It wasn’t too long before we were walking cobbled streets and stumbled upon the gigantic stair case up to the fortified St. Bartholomew Cathedral and access to the museum if you wanted to take a look around. We looked about the grounds as there was a wedding on but this is still another great addition to the trip and well worth the effort climbing your way up those stairs on the approach.

After this there was just enough time for a full English all day breakfast with loads of local fruit etc before it was time to get the ferry and for the long journey back to the B&B.

Sunset around the islands is quite something but it is difficult to get a decent pic as you are on an enclosed boat moving at speed with dirty windows… or I could just be a crap photographer.. you decide! ;@)

After a truly enjoyable day out touring the Aeolian Islands it was time to head back to Messina. It was dark, about 9pm and a Saturday night so what do you do….

Grab a few cheeky beers some of the local culinary delights and head back to chill out as best you can with a busy square below but we managed it pretty well. It helps when you have WI-FI so you can watch some TV in your own language, check emails etc…

On to the lessons learned….
2 good 2 bad

2 good 2 bad

2 Good

1. Even if things are quite like you would have hoped you can still turn things back to your favour, we didn’t have the access to the Islands we had hoped but we managed to get there and see some cool stuff we wouldn’t have done if we just gave up! Perceiver and enjoy these little challenges, don’t forget you can always go back right?!?!

2. You can build yourself a trip; it can be fun and could mean you discover something you may not see on a tour…

2 Bad

1. Poor planning again and this is fast becoming a theme! If we have investigated the shipping routes and tours we could have stayed in Cafalu, took a tour to the islands, hopped on a boat and had a stress free day the day before, it may have meant a longer drive when we moved on but we could have enjoyed Cafalu for longer or got to Catiana earlier thus avoiding Messina which we didn’t really enjoy…

2. Know about the parking situation before you arrive, this is twice now!! We learned about the blue Zones which will prove to be invaluable at the next destination but if you book a place with parking you will save time and money assuming such a place exists! Time may not be an issue on a longer trip and money may not be such an issue on a shorter trip but both will effect what you can do later down the line!

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2 thoughts on “Travel around the Aeolian Islands Sicliy”

  1. Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Ie.
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    1. Hi Guru,

      Thanks for the heads up I will certainly check this out.

      Glad you liked the design and post always good to get some feedback from valued readers 🙂

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