Relaxing in the Aeolian Islands

Vulcano Island with a steaming crater

For this trip we had just one plan: Relax in the Aeolian Islands. It’s the main reason people come here! The Aeolian Islands are a cluster of volcanic islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just north of Sicily. In total, there are seven inhabited islands: Lipari (the largest), Vulcano, Stromboli, Salina, Panarea, Filicudi, and Alicudi. Two of these islands (Vulcano and Stromboli) are active volcanoes! Stromboli is in a permanent state of eruption, and Vulcano steams continuously from its main crater.

To begin our trek to the islands, we drove 1.5 hours from Catania to Milazzo, parked the car, and hopped a ferry to Lipari. We were told that when we go the Aeolian islands, we should expect a relaxing vacation. So, we were obviously going to try that! Tourists flock to the islands in the summer to bathe on the sandy beaches, take in the stunning views, swim in the sea, hike the mountains and coastlines, and eat mouthwatering cuisine. Each island has its own uniqueness, but we decided to take the advice of everyone else and just relax.

“When in Rome”… or in this case, Lipari.

Hiking in Lipari

The next day, we went on a hike that took us high up the mountain, to see the island of Vulcano. Our walk started in Lipari center, inside the perimeter walls of a 16th century castle. Now, it has ancient ruins and an archeological museum.

We were looking forward to this hike, because we knew we’d be able to see some breathtaking views of the town of Lipari and the crystal clear water. The ultimate goal was to get to the observatory at the top, and make it back down for the afternoon. We were looking forward to relaxing by the pool later!

After leaving the walls, we followed the waterfront and walked away from Lipari center. The walk had us stroll past locals’ houses with their laundry hanging from their balconies, past the archipelago’s only hospital, down small alleyways, under bridges, and eventually away from civilization completely.

As we climbed, we passed white-washed holiday houses perched on top of cliffs. Even though they were situated so close to the town, the serenity, sea, and calmness of their surroundings made them seem so far away.

Eventually, we reached a lookout over Punta della Crapazza, where we could see a number of rock pinnacles rising out of the sea.

On a nearly hidden path, we hiked straight up the crest of the mountain, where we discovered even better views of the rocks. After a few more turns, we were led back onto a concrete road, and we walked toward the observatory on the top of the mountain. Here, a marvelous spread of islands came into view, including mainland Sicily.

Another Hike Surprises Us

Now it was time for us to start our descent and head back to Lipari… or so we thought.

We assumed we’d be continuing downwards. Instead, the hike took us through a very narrow path, massively overgrown with prickly bushes, and weeds… and we were climbing!

Evidently, this is becoming the norm for us! Had it not been for the random red dots telling us we were on the right path or the guidebook telling us we’d pass some quarries (which we did), we would have thought this was a joke!

After bushwhacking our way out of the woods, we followed a small path for about 10 minutes to a church. We were almost there! A walk down a dreadfully steep lane led us to yet another long set of stairs and eventually weaved us downhill through the old part of town.

Relaxing in Lipari

Once we hit the center of Lipari, we picked up some cannolis, paninis, and wine, and headed back to the hotel to have lunch on our balcony. The sparkling pool was calling out to us, so we quickly changed and headed down to get a much-needed dip. Time to relax! We spent the rest of the afternoon (and weekend) lounging poolside and drinking wine.

All in all, we walked/hiked around 6.5 miles, so I’d say we earned it!

We can see why so many people flock to the Aeolian Islands during the summer season. With the beauty and uniqueness of each island, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!