The Magnificent Seven volcanic Islands


The Italian Volcanic islands that is worth the trek for.

The Aeolian archipelago off the Sicilian coast is notoriously difficult to reach but the seven islands charm those who do.

For the average visitor, it takes a flight, a scenic two-hour drive, and an hour or so on the hydrofoil to get to these islands. The actual journey of course includes, hours of waiting in between connections, accident-prone highways and a dash of southern Italian laidback vibes that could prolong the entire process all together. It is no wonder then that the Aeolian Islands, though magical with breathtakingly gorgeous landscape, has stayed under-the-radar away from the throngs of tourists heading to Sicily every summer. But as you are about to surrender to traveling fatigue, gratification and awe hits you the moment you step off the hydrofoil onto shore.

The locals speak of a folklore that the seven volcanic islands that make up the Aeolian are demi-god sisters descended from the mythical figure, Gea. The beauty of the sisters manifests in the geographical landscapes of the islands formed by years of volcanic activities. Rugged, steep cliffs with vegetation of agaves and prickly pears, jagged coasts from cracks and hardened lava formations, black sandy beaches and hot springs give character to the seven islands of Panarea, Stromboli, Lipari, Salina, Vulcano, Alicudi and Filicudi.

Cluttered around the north-east sea of Sicily, the islands enjoy clear blue waters and splendid weather all-year long. Set up base in any of the larger islands of Lipari, Salina or Vulcano and hop on and off boats to explore the rest.

STAY

Therasia Resort & Spa

A stylish luxury resort sprawled over the rugged cliffs of Vulcano island with its own private spa and a one-star Michelin restaurant, Il Cappero. The property adopts an eco-design philosophy by adapting common spaces into the natural landscape – the cascading sun decks is an exceptional view as you make your way down the cliff to the water. Most rooms boast a private sun terrace. www.therasiaresort.it

Capofaro

An establishment on Salina island with a narrative that is tied to the history of the locality, from the fertile grape-growing land to the nineteen-century lighthouse. Run by the Tasca d’Almerita family, rooms are available both in the main building and within the lighthouse itself. Guests can immerse in the island life by trying their hands on working in the vineyard or visiting the in-house Marina and Malvasia Micromuseum. www.capofaro.it

Raya Hotel

A rustic retreat in the island of Panarea with natural forming pools irrigated by hyperthermal and hypotonic waters of vulcanic origins. Its holistic wellness approach extends to the signature restaurant where only organic local produce is used. www.hotelraya.it

EAT

Il Diavolo dei Polli

Its name literally meaning ‘The Devil of Chickens’ belies the main offering of the kitchen; seafood so fresh that they are best served raw, which is the signature antipasti dish on the menu. It is best to have a chat with the staff and let them tell you the catch of the day and how grandma in the kitchen wants to cook it. Alternatively, give the one item that has been on the menu since the restaurant opened decades ago a try, the Roast Chicken. Via Cardo, Vulcano. +39 0909853034.

Trattoria Cucinotta

This cozy little trattoria occupies a traditional white-washed rock house overlooking the waters of Salina island. Traditional Sicilian fare is the focus here with lots of hearty appetizers seafood-base pastas. Be sure to try the stuffed sardines – a local favorite. Via Risorgimento 66, Salina. +39 090 984 3475.

Ristorante La Sirena

Charming and most definitely off-the-beaten track, this is probably the only place to get a decent bite on the island of Filicudi. It makes for a good excuse to do a quick pitstop to visit one of the smallest and furthest Aeolian islands. Fresh seafood and simple cooking for a fuss-free dining experience. Località Pecorini, Filicudi, +39 090 988 9997.

EXPLORE

Boat Trips

Sail the days away on island-hopping tours and soak in the sights of little grottos, bays and caves that are unique to these volcanic landscapes. The crystal-clear water is also perfect for both snorkelling and diving – most boat trips are tailored for individual preferences. A highly recommended must-do is the night boat trip that takes you out to the still-active crater on Stromboli where the volcanic eruptions create a spectacle of red fireworks against the pitch dark sky. www.dimensionesicilia.com

Hiking

Dormant craters, cones and ranges make the perfect setting for hikes of all levels to admire the views and sceneries across all the islands. For sweeping views of Malvesian vineyards and the surrounding seascape, climb Salina’s highest peak, Fossa delle Felci that takes you mountainside through green forestry right up to the peak. For a more amateur friendly hike, take a gradual climb up Fossa di Vulcano that will take you about 2 to 3 hours. www.ilvulcanoapiedi.it

Mud Baths

Apart from Stromboli, Vulcano is the only other island with active volcanic activities though on a more mellow scale. The constantly smouldering volcano gives rise to bubbling fumaroles and black sandy beaches. Immerse in the mud baths for its purifying properties but be sure to take precautions against the sulphur stink after. Fanghi di Vulcano, Via Riccardo Conti 20.

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