Aeolian Islands, Italy

Aeolian Islands: A volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily, named after the      demigod of the winds Aeolus.

Imagine a UNESCO World Heritage Site of seven beautiful and extremely varied islands and islets that are of volcanic origin as your playground.  Their extreme history created perfect black sand beaches, smoldering craters and splintered, rocky coastlines that offer you many opportunities for exploration, adventure, sun bathing, boating, and just simple relaxation.  The islands vary so much so that you can go from the island of Alicudi where the only form of transportation are donkeys to the international jet setters playground of Panarea.  Take your pick!

Panarea

There are two active volcanoes in the chain, Stromboli and Vulcano but all the islands have volcanic activity of some kind.  Whether you find steaming fumaroles or thermal waters you will always feel the presence of the Earth.  

Fumeroles

Like other coastal destinations the locals lives run off the seasons.  The total population of all the islands combined is 10,000 but during the high season of summer the months of July and August are the busiest and over 200,000 people flood the small archipelago in masses.  You will not find your typical American tourist here though.  There are no fanny packs or tie-dye tees walking around – its quite the opposite actually.  Much of the seasonal population is the beautiful and wealthy where the ports are filled with multi-million yachts and the streets are a live cat walk.  
But do not worry the high class luxury really only occurs on the island of Panarea, there is much more diversity so we all can enjoy it!

So which island is the right on for you?

Lipari
This is the largest of the islands and also the only one with a sizable town and year round population.  The primary industry once was mining and you can see remnants in the mountains where pumice quarries took bites out of them.  The attractions here include the fortified acropolis, flower-hung alleys, and the harbor of Marina Corta….and that is it.  It really is kind of a place to buy cheap, over priced souvenirs of sarongs and mass-produced jewelry. 
As for the beaches they are wild, rocky and most importantly undeveloped which means you get the extroidiary views all to yourself!  You just have to get there first.  Most beaches are inaccessible by car but you can reach them on foot or boat.  

Pomice Beach

Try Valle Muria or Punta delle Fontanelle.
But the best of best on Lipari is the footpath along the coast between Terme di San Calogero and kaolin quarry at Bagnosecco.  The surface of the footpath has been stained indigo, violet, orange, mustard and blue by the emissions steaming from the sulfurous fumaroles. 
The Earth is always present!

Marina Corta

Vulcano
Make a day trip to bath in the warm mud baths swim in the bubbling mid-sea fumaroles.  You can also hike up to the crater after paying a fee of 3 Euros but be careful of inhaling the volcanic gases and bring hiking boots!

Stromboli
The main attraction here is the volcano as majority of the visitors come only to trek to the top.  Hiking to the top of a volcano seems to imply you have to be in peak physical condition but any person in fare shape can do it.  Just as long as you bring proper shoes, a warm jacket and your own water you will be fine.  The hike itself takes two hours and is guided so that you arrive at the summit in time for sunset.  
If you are in the mood to relax on the beach all day or before your hike the gems are the hidden little coves of black sand tucked into lava crags along the coast of Piscita. 

Salina
Salina is a beautiful twin peaked green island that offers traffic free streets, chic boutiques and down to earth restaurants.  Also, wineries are present here so spend your day trying the different coastal varieties while starring off into the vast blue sea.  Or if you rather spend your time by the sea head to the stony black sand  beach of Lingua where you can enjoy libations at Da Alfredo bar.  The adventurous also have activities here.  They can climb to the peak of Monte Fossa delle Felci but only in the spring and fall as the other seasons offer to much heat or storms.  


Panarea
This is the poshest of all the islands and the most beautiful.  If you are like me and consist of the American middle class it would be best to only go in the spring and fall.  Generally speaking the hotels are pricey but check out Pippo and Maria for a small but nice room to rent at a decent price.  
The beaches here are the best too – of course.  You can take a leisurely 40 minute walk to the dark gold sandy beach of Zammara and the bay of Cala Junca or a 20 minute walk on the other side of the village to Calcara.  There you will find fumaroles that once led Panareans to believe it was an entrance to the underworld.  Another calm, clear beach is under Basiluzzo and you will find remains of a Roman port!


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So those are the Aeolian Islands and which ones you choose to visit, hopefully all of them United Military Travel can book all your travel needs!  






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