Introducing the Aeolian Islands, Lipari, Panarea, Salina, Stromboli, Vulcano, Alicudi and Filicudi; seven natural paradises embraced by the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The ultimate destination for beach-lovers, the Aeolian Islands are also climbing the list of the best places to partake in sustainable tourism – helping to protect nature, while you admire and immerse yourself in the beauty of it.
The Aeolian Islands can be reached by ferry or hydrofoil: transfers by sea are also available for travel within the archipelago, making each island easily accessible. With picturesque trekking routes, ferocious volcanic craters, unique beaches and, of course, breath-taking views; the Aeolian Islands are a natural idyll that deserves to be adored and respected.
The capital of the archipelago is also its largest island, as well as an excellent starting point for any eco-friendly tour. Home to some unforgettable sunsets, Lipari is characterised by its rocky landscapes and a geological formation that consists of pumice stone, obsidian and kaolin – a nod to its volcanic past.
The path that starts from the Kaolin quarries winds between still active fumaroles and the contrasting green Mediterranean vegetation. In about two hours you will reach Pinaconte, crossing wild terrain and witnessing some breath-taking views. A stop at the Belvedere di Quattrocchi is a must to enjoy the views of the Faraglioni rock formations emerging from the sea, and the island of Vulcano that floats in the background.
If you fancy a dive in the waves, nothing beats the bay of Canneto, with its charming white beach. The surrounding pearly quarries and the expanse of white pumice forms the perfect powdery soft sand.
The island of Salina is formed by two dormant volcanoes and is considered the greenest of all the Aeolian islands. At the centre of the archipelago, Salina is known for its fertile terrain (with cultivations of delicious capers, olives, tomatoes and aubergines in abundance), its deep cobalt blue sea, as well as the production of Malvasia, the Aeolian DOC wine.
To discover this rich island, start from its mountain ranges, explore its volcanic origins, dive into the sea and go further because the seabed that surrounds it is an expression of its identity as much as the hinterland. A visit to the Pollara viewpoint gives rewards of immense landscape vistas, and it was here, in fact, that Massimo Troisi shot the scenes of his film, The Postman, accompanied by a unique panorama that, starting from the jagged cliffs that outline the coast, extends as far as the eye can see.
The southernmost Aeolian Island of Vulcano has a name that speaks for itself; it is the site of the grand crater from previous eruptive volcanic activity and is still identifiable today among the fumaroles and thermal springs of the island. Climbing to the top of the crater is a must: the trekking path that connects the slopes of the volcano to its highest point winds for about 800 metres, taking visitors on an excursion between gorse and lava formations.
It is nigh-on impossible not to stop and devour the landscape from every angle. From the crater of Vulcano, the Aeolian Islands take shape one after the other, starting from Panarea and Stromboli, passing through Lipari and Salina, ending with the distant Alicudi and Filicudi. You can even just about make out the coast of Sicily and the summit of Mount Etna: a complete 360° panorama.
From the south to the north of the archipelago, now from a dormant crater to one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. Stromboli is wild, unspoiled and explosive; an island where nature takes over (and the almost total absence of roads is proof of this!).
Locals call the Stromboli volcano “Iddu” since its presence on the island is dominating and the eruptions almost continuous. Still, life here flows quietly, the vegetation (among olive trees, figs and vines) grows luxuriantly. Water, fire and earth; a triad that makes Stromboli a true portent of nature. If you’re lucky enough to see the sunset over the volcano, the result is simply spectacular.
In contrast to the fiery Stromboli, Panarea is a turquoise odyssey. The smallest of the Aeolian Islands, and a destination known for luxury, its natural wonders shine just as brightly as its famous nightlife.
The rocks that surround it, eight to be exact, are the protagonists of its very particular shape, the last remains of a volcanic past that now resides only in the depths. The seabed is the hidden gem of Panarea where the ancient volcano now lies at the bottom of the sea. A true scuba paradise awaits, where you’ll come face to face with many colourful species of marine life. The Scoglio la Nave supervises a colony of parrotfish, while the Scoglio Spinazzola hosts colourful sponges and even various types of starfish. Back on the shore, Cala Junco beach nestled among the rocks is home to transparent water and is said to be the most beautiful beach in the archipelago.
Alicudi and Filicudi
Time for one last leap into the wild before returning to the real world. Alicudi and Filicudi, the twin sisters of the Aeolian Islands, perhaps represent more than any other the quintessential sustainable holiday. Filicudi is defined by its lava formations and harsh rocks: the best way to visit is by boat, giving you the chance to admire the coastal coves, beaches and rocks that surround it.
Last but not least, a visit to Alicudi, where there are no roads, not even for bicycles, is the ideal away-from-it-all escape. This stunning island has been untouched, allowing you to reconnect with nature in peace.