Nature, history, mythology: welcome to the Aeolian Islands. We have already started our journey and visited Lipari, Salina and Vulcano. Now it’s time to go on and discover some more curiosities about this archipelago. Let’s begin the second part of our itinerary with Sicilian Secrets.
The Aeolian Islands are one of the most appreciated tourist destinations and every year attract many visitors from all over the world. Lipari, Vulcano, Stromboli, Panarea, Salina, Alicudi and Filicudi are seven gems in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Once you have visited them all, you’ll understand why the Aeolian Islands are in the Unesco World Heritage list!
The last island we visited in the previous article (click HERE to read it) was Vulcano, well…here is another tip for your trip: the first thing to do is hiking the crater of this island, the view is stunning. From the top you can see Vulcano and the other 6 sisters all in line! And if the sky is clear, you can even catch sight of the coast of Messina.
Now, let’s move on…next stop, Panarea!
Panarea is cool! Welcome to the smallest island of this archipelago, it is the prettiest one and in summer attracts people who want to mix fun and relax. Many celebrities choose Panarea to spend their holidays, it’s normal to see luxury yachts by the coast from June to September. The old name was Euonymos, archaeological evidence on the island date back to the Mycenaean civilization, later the island was populated by the Romans.
Nowadays, Panarea is fashionable and trendy, in 2011 W magazine described it as ‘the epicenter of the chicest summer scene in the Mediterranean’.
If you visit the Aeolian Islands in June, be sure to be in Panarea on June 29th when they celebrate Saint Peter, the patron saint of the island. The statue of St. Peter is brought all around the street and then – this is the most suggestive moment! – the procession continues on a boat through the sea. There are many events connect to this religious celebration, it’s a jump into the traditions and the culture of Panarea.
Panarea is part of a nature reserve (Riserva naturale orientata Isola di Panarea e scogli viciniori, in Italian) and includes a sort of mini archipelago between Lipari and Vulcano: Basiluzzo, Spinazzola, Lisca Bianca, Dattilo, Bottaro, Lisca Nera and the rocks of Panarelli and Formiche…little gems, big emotions!
Stromboli is definitely the most…explosive island of the archipelago. Sicilians call it ‘Iddu’, HIM. This volcano erupted many times and is constantly active with minor eruptions, often visible from many points on the island and from the sea, this is the reason why the nickname is ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’. Stromboli is perfect if you love hiking and if you do it in the night, you will remember this emotion for a lifetime. But the thing that surprises every visitor is the black soft sand…enjoy it!
One of the most peculiar parts of Stromboli is the village called Ginostra, you can reach it only by boat due to a lack of roads or trails on the island. Moreover, until 2004 the village had no electricity or running water, there’s a single phone booth and people use donkey as a means of transportation.
Cinema and literature
Stromboli inspired writers and directors: you can find this island in ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ by Jules Verne and ‘Impressions de voyage – Le Capitaine Aréna’ by Alexandre Dumas. Don’t miss the movie ‘Stromboli, Land of God’ by Roberto Rossellini with Ingrid Bergman. The drama is considered a classic example of Italian neorealism and was shot on the island.
We are almost at the end of our journey throughout the Aeolian Islands, let’s learn something about Alicudi and Filicudi, the wildest islands!
The name ‘Alicudi’ comes from the Ancient Greek name of Ἐρείκουσα (Ereikousa), related to the heather growing on the island’s slopes.
The island was already populated in the 17th century BC, many archaeological evidence from this period has been found as well as Roman ceramic fragments discovered on the eastern coast of the island.
According to an old tradition, they say that fishers from Alicudi where able to ‘cut’ storms and waterspouts, in this way they were able to survive in case of horrible marine dangers.
Another famous tradition is about the so-called ‘flying women’. According to the legend, they would be able to turn themselves into ravens and cats and use spells…moreover they would be able to fly to Palermo in the night, sometimes to Tunisia to take back to the island some new objects never seen before. Creepy!
The modern name of ‘Filicudi’ is a distortion of the ancient Greek name Phoenicusa, the Phoenician Island. Since the ‘70s, Filicudi attracted many creative talents, so was populated by photographers and artists such as Sergio Libiszewsky, Ettore Sottsass, the novelist Roland Zoss, the Swiss sculptor Jacques Basler and the editor Giulio Einaudi.
Nowadays, the focus of tourism is art…of course! Beauty at the sea.