Salina, Lipari and even Panarea (far right), as seen from the caldera on Vulcano.
Rising out of the cobalt-blue seas off Sicily's northeastern coast, the Unesco-protected Aeolian Islands are a little piece of paradise, a magical outdoor playground offering thrills and spills at every turn. Stunning waters provide sport for swimmers, sailors and divers, while trekkers can climb hissing volcanoes and gourmets can sip honey-sweet Malvasia wine. -- Lonely Planet
Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. There are few places in the world that better exemplify the Earth's natural elements than the Aeolians. Named for Aeolus, God of winds, it's a great sailing area. The clean, warm waters make a perfect playground for swimming, snorkeling or diving. Volcanic activity is found on several of the islands, including two that are active-- Vulcano, named for the God of fire, and Stromboli, which sets off nighttime fireworks every few minutes! These islands are so significant to the study of volcanoes that two main types are named for them. Finally, the rich volcanic soil is ideal for growing flowers and fruits, including the capers and wine grapes for which these islands are also famous.
"Why are the Aeolian Islands the number one sailing destination?"
"Unlike their better-known neighbor Capri — a shopper’s paradise where the streets are lined with Gucci, Prada and Missoni boutiques — there is little to acquire in the Aeolian Islands besides a tan. When I visited in midsummer, though, I was continuously struck by how indulgent the simple life can feel... Where simplicity is luxury, time slows to the roll of the Mediterranean and meals are rivaled only by the crisp white wine. Swimming in the Mediterranean is one of the things in life even better in reality than fantasy."-- John Gasson, New York Times
We'll sail from the marina at Capo d'Orlando, Sicily, island-hopping among the Aeolians (Eolie).
These islands are very short sails apart, generally one or two hours. The marina photo below also shows four of the islands on the horizon!
Day 1: Capo d'Orlando
Arrive at the marina base on Saturday afternoon, to unpack (once!) and for an orientation. It is a full-service marina with shops and restaurants.
Day 2: Vulcano
Vulcano and Vulcanello as seen from Lipari. "Vulcano is exactly that: a volcanic island. Here, you’ll find therapeutic natural mud baths, a black sand beach, hot springs, and, of course, a steaming volcano crater. It is not at risk for an eruption but does emit sulfur, a smell most visitors get used to after a while. This Italian island was dedicated to the God of Fire by both its Greek and Roman settlers."
Day 3: Panarea
The second-smallest of the Aeolian Islands, Panarea looks more like a Greek island than an Italian one (it could have something to do with the fact that the island was settled by Greeks at one point in time). Panarea is home to clear, blue waters full of islets to explore.
"On Panarea the soil is so fertile flowers explode from every crevice in the rock walls lining the narrow footpaths."
Day 4: Stromboli
Referred to as "The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean", Stromboli has the most active volcano in Europe. On all the other islands the evening is spent in conventional ways, an aperitif, dinner, the disco, but on Stromboli there are also other possibilities. Every evening, groups of people meet up, adequately equipped, to climb up the volcano, coming back down at 11 pm. A guide is obligatory if you want to reach the Pizzo at an altitude of 900 metres. Others board boats at Scari to go under the Sciara del Fuoco and watch from the sea the spectacle of incandescent rocks. When there are violent eruptions, as happened in 2003, the flow of lava slides down the slope and ends up in the sea giving off great columns of steam. Others take part in the night’s squid fishing or dine, either on a boat, or at Ginostra, and come back very late.
Day 5: Salina
"Of all the islands that make up Italy's Aeolian archipelago, Salina is arguably the most alluring: it is not yet a celebrity haven like its neighbor Stromboli, where Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce, and Stefano Gabbana have homes; and it’s not yet overrun with the luxury yachts of affluent soccer players like nearby Panarea. That the isle has stayed blissfully unspoiled for this long eludes those who know of its imposing natural beauty — steep mountains blanketed in blossoming trees and wildflowers, small villages speckled with olive and lemon groves, fig trees, and miles of terraced Malvasia vineyards." - Travel & Leisure
Salina: Italy's secret gourmet island off Sicily | CNN Travel
Day 6: Filicudi
"Among the prettiest and least developed of the Aeolian Islands, Filicudi is also one of the oldest, dating back to tectonic activity 700,000 years ago. A little wild and not very worldly, ideal for those who seek the intensity of the essential and love unspoilt nature." I remember most eating wild cherries while hiking around.
Day 6: Lipari
The island has the biggest town of the archipelago, also called Lipari; a lively busy place with picturesque streets, an attractive harbour and a historic castle-citadel. A stay in Lipari would not be complete, however, if you didn’t take to the sea to discover the island from the water, stopping off for swims in otherwise inaccessible coves.
I chartered a 52' Dufour to sail here in 2019, and everyone loved the yacht. I stepped it up to another level this time. This is the new, upgraded version, a 53' Dufour, with the easier to use horizontal galley, and a first-- a yacht with a dishwasher! This larger version is available with six cabins, but I chose the five-cabin layout that gives us a fourth head instead of another cabin. I've always felt that most people prefer to spend an extra $150 or so for a less crowded, newer, larger yacht.
$2,900 for a double cabin. Singles can pay $1,450 to share a cabin with separate berths, or $2,400 for their own cabin.
Repeat crew members, or those reserving before February 15th, save $75.
Sicily is not as difficult or expensive to get to as you might think. If you're new to flying to Europe, there are many low-cost intracontinental carriers. Find a good fare to elsewhere in Italy or another city in Europe that you may wish to stopover in first, then see if you can connect to Palermo (PMO) or Catania (CTA), the two major airports on the island. Capo d'Orlando is about equidistant from either airport; both are spectacular cities, and either drive is along a beautiful coast! I will update those going on airfares and transfer options.
Space is reserved in the order of deposits received ($500 per person). Final payment due 60 days before the trip.
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