Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands)
July 19, 2017
Frankly, Italy’s Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie) are a complete pain in the ass to get to from the US. We had a long connecting flight from Los Angeles, through Istanbul, to Catania (Sicily), then bussed from Catania to the port city of Milazzo, and then caught a ferry to the Aeolian Island of Vulcano where we cabbed it to the hotel. Not counting the (very enjoyable and worthwhile) stop in Istanbul, our travel time from LA to hotel bar was about 30 hours. And it was worth every minute.
A sunrise hike of the volcano is an absolute must. This is non-negotiable. From the trail head to the crater rim it’s about 2km (1+ mile) and a mildly-to-moderately strenuous hike. We did it in normal running shoes and had a backpack with a bottle of water and some snacks and that was about it. There’s nothing technical about the hike and it should take about 30-45 minutes each way, so time your ascent accordingly to maximize the dawn and sunrise views.
The Pescheria along the main port was our favorite meal on the islands. A no-frills restaurant with freshly caught seafood cooked to order and cheap table wine. Peep the daily catch and any available specials, and gorge to your heart’s content.
We stayed at the Mari del Sud Resort along the West Port (Porto di Ponente) and highly recommend it. The rooms were inexpensive and basic but clean and homey. The restaurant served decent breakfast in the mornings and decent drinks in the evenings, and the pool provided a nice refuge from the heat. Nearby, paddle boats along the beach and the Volcanism Museum provided some lazy leisure activities.
aLICUDI / Filicudi
Again, the volcano climb here is a non-negotiable. We joined Magmatrek for an afternoon group excursion to the crater and were rewarded with a very memorable hike. The lush landscape we started walking through at the base of the volcano gave way to an eerie, ashy moonscape once the sun went down and we passed the tree line. A dense fog set it and the regular magma spurts were powerful to watch from our safe vantage point along the crater rim. The gear rentals from Totem Trekking were perfect and inexpensive.
After our evening volcano climb, we settled into a quiet table on the balcony of Da Luciano and had the best margherita pizza and pitcher of cold beer I think I have ever had. That pizza is still my gold standard to this day.
I really wanted to hate Bar Ingrid for it’s too-perfect location and it’s too-perfect view and it’s too-perfect pastries; for the wifi and coffee and wine and ugh… I really wanted to hate it, but I actually love it. I could spend hours there reading or writing or just staring out to see or watching people amble around the Piazza San Vincenzo. The coffee, wine, food, and (especially) the pastries are all quite special.