Escape to Italy’s Aeolian Islands
Escape to the Aeolian Islands
An Italian Paradise Kissed by Grecian Charm
Few of Italy’s islands are as beautiful as the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily, a group on the Mediterranean that includes Panarea, Lipari, and Salina. An idyllic yacht charter destination renowned for its breathtaking anchorages, the water here is refreshing and crystal clear. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the islands’ volcanic origins make for striking features – from dramatic cliffs to thermal springs, which provide stunning vistas for charter yacht guests to enjoy. Setting itself apart from the more typical summer Mediterranean yacht charter destinations is the intriguing mythology that surrounds the Aeolian Islands, which were named after Aeolus, the keeper of the winds in Greek mythology who mischievously blew Odysseus back to the islands’ rocky shores when trying to return home. Brimming with pure natural beauty, legend, and lore, the Aeolian Islands are a must-see luxury travel destination to explore during an island-hopping yacht charter vacation in Italy.
Filicudi and Alicudi
The two most western islands are the most remote out of all the islands. These two islands as a whole can be experienced perfectly during a charter yacht vacation. There are two main reasons to visit Filicudi: the water is marvelously clear, and since the island is remote you can have a beach all to yourself. For underwater explorations, the Filicudi seabed is home to scores of ancient shipwrecks, which makes for an unforgettable diving experience. Just off the coast of Filicudi is a mesmerizing volcanic rock, La Canna, which extends 80-meters out of the water. La Canna protrudes dramatically out of the sea while nearby Grotta del Bue Marino cave is also a truly marvelous site.
Alicudi is known for its quaint way of living. Its peaceful way of life epitomizes simplicity, making it a great place to escape. With no true roads or cars, the best way for yacht charter guests to explore Alicudi is on a casual stroll along the cobbled stairways that crisscross the island. For a unique excursion, as the island is situated on an extinct 675-meter volcano, adventurous travelers may want to endeavor on a journey to the peak of Alicudi, Filo dell’Arpa.
Lipari is the largest Aeolian Island, but it is known for its beautiful bustling port, which is the main hub for all the islands. The harbor is packed with brightly painted fishing boats and surrounded by pleasant outdoor cafés. An island filled with good restaurants, beautiful beaches and a fascinating history is worth the visit. There is a 16th-century castle above the town right next to 11th-century San Bartolomeo Cathedral. This castle houses the Regional Aeolian Archaeological Museum. A highlight not to miss at the museum is the display of hundreds of coral-encrusted ceramic jugs and black plates fused with barnacles from a wreck at Capo Graziano. The coast around Lipari is wild, rocky and undeveloped, with splintered rocks offshore and extraordinary views. You can reach these rocks on foot at Valle Muria, where there’s a beach or at Punta delle Fontanelle. Discover the discreet coves where you can sun tan on huge boulders or take a quick dip in the blue water.
The smallest of the Aeolian Islands is probably one of the most breathtaking. Panarea has even been the set for a few movies. The island itself has a brilliant mix of stony hills, emerald slopes and rocky beaches that are the perfect anchorage spot for a swim in the shimmering clear waters. One of the most picturesque sights are the beautiful white Greek style structures which overlook the vast crystal clear ocean. With a variety of inlets like Basiluzzo, Dattilo, Lisca Bianca and others, there are a plenty of anchorage options which provide the ideal setting for yacht charter guests to bask in the sun and enjoy a refreshing swim around lunchtime. To get around the island you will notice that there are no cars, but rather a multitude of Vespas that roam the city streets. The island is known for the terrazzo of the luxurious Hotel Raya and if you are a night owl, it is the place to be.
Twin-peaked Salina is arguably the lushest of the islands due to all the greenness for growing capers and sweet grapes, but it also famous for its starring role in the 1994 film Il Postino. The main port, Santa Marina Salina, is notable for its long, uncongested main street, where elegant boutiques and sensible food shops occupy the ground floors of the substantial 19th-century style houses. Visit the Ethnographic museum in Lingua, which tells the story of the island and the emigration that the island experienced. However, if museums aren’t your thing then spend your time in Lingua lying on the stony beaches or sipping on a world famous granita at Da Alfredo’s bar. For charter yacht guests that want to enjoy a meal ashore, the island has several restaurants that serve good, fresh, and simple food, and you won’t have to book advance. The island favorite is the spectacular rocks at Pollara. The best time to come is at the end of the day to swim under the overhanging cliffs, and then watch the sunset. Pollara also hosts an exuberant annual caper festival, celebrating tondina, the main variety cultivated on the island, started by Hotel Signum’s Clara Rametta, in June.
Home to one of Italy’s biggest active volcanoes, Stromboli’s dramatic, dark lava rock landscape and moody black beaches is what makes it different from the other islands. It used to be possible to climb to the summit and look down at the massive jets of lava, but since the volcano blew its top in 1930 it is no longer possible. Stromboli has two landings. Ginostra has the better harbor but is on the ‘far’ side of the island and can only be reached by boat. Scari, on the northeast coast, is more connected, linked by a road to the island’s main village of San Vincenzo. The island has a very Greek feel, the ancient Greeks were the first to colonize the Aeolians around 580BC, and the remains of their settlements can be seen here as on every other island. For intense solitude, visit remote villages, such as Ginostra, which is only accessible by boat. The best beaches on Stromboli are the little coves of black sand tucked into lava crags along the coast at Piscità.
Vulcano is fast becoming the most visited of the Aeolian Islands. According to legend, the Greek god Vulcan had his workshop here, although his volcanic activity ceased long ago. It is a two-hour walk from the port to the top of the volcanic cone. At the top you can peer down into the plugged core of the volcano and across the blue to Lìpari and Filicudi. The Fanghi di Vulcano, mud baths, and offshore fumaroles are a couple of minutes’ walk from the port. Said to be effective against skin and back problems, the open-air pool of volcanic mud makes for one of the great charms on the islands. On the northern side of the island, there’s a precarious drop down to Gelso, a small fishing village. You can watch dolphins swim in the waters, while you wait for a table at the excellent Trattoria Maniaci Pino.