One of the best trips someone can take is a beach trip. An unplanned beach trip is even better. I absolutely love lounging around and soaking up the sun, so living in an island satisfies my “vacation mode” any day of the week. Not only do I get the island vibe here, but I can also visit the neighboring islands. The Aeolian Islands are seven tiny islands north of Sicily. They sit in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea and are just a ferry ride away from Sicily. You can buy tickets online or you can drive to the Milazzo port and just buy your tickets there. There really is no need for a car on the Aeolian Islands, so my suggestion is to park your car in Sicily and then hop on the ferry and be at your destination in about an hour.
We didn’t really plan this trip out. Unlike the active vacations such as Rome, Paris, London etc, going to the beach mainly consists of relaxing under the sun. We reserved a room at the Hotel Aktea in Lipari. Lipari is the largest island in the Aeolian Islands. The hotel is a charming boutique hotel and breakfast was included with our rate and served poolside. The pool is nice and big and we went during the 4th of July weekend and did not experience any crowding problems. In fact, most of the time, we had the pool to ourselves.
We met up with our friends the McPartlands (Paul, Jess and their beautiful new baby, Ale). The first night, we ventured out to downtown Lipari and had a seafood dinner at Al Pescatore near Marina Corta. We ordered the fish of the day, but we found it to be a bit dry for our taste. The restaurant adds a hefty service fee, reminding us that we are in a tourist trap area.
The next day we decided to go island hopping. Due to the Euro 2016 soccer games, all the excursions leaving Lipari to other islands were cancelled. Italy was playing that night against Germany and it was enough for the Italian community to shut down. I have never seen a town close down for a game before. And here I thought the Super Bowl was a big deal. So on to plan B. We hired Alessandro to take us on a personal tour around Lipari (his number is +39 339-688-4165). He recently purchased a brand new Mercedes-Benz van and we rode in style and with good hip music too. He was very informative and made several stops along the island. He charged us a total of 75 euro (which came out to 18.75 euro per person) and we spent the whole day exploring Lipari.
Our tour consisted of stopping along the coast and taking in the breathtaking views. Along the way, Alessandro stopped by a beach and picked up pumice stones for us to bring back home. The stones were created from the last eruption Lipari’s volcano had (over a thousand years ago). As we continued the ride, we could see the construction crates that were once used in the pumice factory which is now in disuse and was claimed a UNESCO world heritage site.
We were dropped off at Coral Beach and told Alessandro to pick us up later. At coral beach, we enjoyed a nice lunch and tried their local schiacciata. The water was nice and cool so it was perfect for a hot day. I’m not too fond of rocky beaches and we didn’t have our water shoes, so it was definitely not my favorite beach, but it was good enough for a dip.
That night we went to dinner at Trattoria del Vicolo and had an outstanding mixed fish dish. Their service was slower than usual and Jess ordered a plate that never arrived. When we inquired about her dish, they said they ran out. I guess they were too busy watching the Euro Cup to let her know that she needed to order something else. It was all good because, like always, we were deep in good conversation and did not seem to mind.
We booked our island hopping excursion for Sunday (finally!). We booked the tour through Popolo Giallo’s office location at the port. The cost for two people was 80 euro and it included transportation to Vulcano Island, Panarea and Stromboli by night. It was going to be a long day as it was scheduled to depart at 10am and arrive back in Lipari at 10:30pm.
Our first stop was Vulcano. On our way to Vulcano, the boat stopped in the middle of the ocean for people to take a quick dip. Once in Vulcano, we were able to enjoy the natural mud bath the island has to offer. As soon as you arrive to Vulcano, you can smell the strong sulfur scent. However, it does not overwhelm the entire island. We paid 4 euros to go inside the mud bath and covered our bodies with this natural wonder. Once the mud dried, we rinsed off and headed over for a quick bite. We spend about 2 hours in the island and that was plenty of time to enjoy the bath, have lunch and shop souvenirs.
Our next stop was Panarea Island. The island is known for its VIP guests and they have a helicopter pad which I can only assume is how the celebrities get there. It is a small island and we were there roughly about an hour and a half. Enough time to walk down the strip, see the fashion stores they have, and sit down to enjoy some gelato.
The last stop was Stromboli. Stromboli has an active volcano that locals say erupt on a nightly basis. We were excited to go and see the eruption. Stromboli is the farthest island we went to and it took about an hour to get there from Panarea. We walked around the island, did a little shopping and enjoyed a nice pizza and beer for dinner. After about 3 hours in the island, the boat took us out to the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea to check out the lava from the volcano explosion. Sadly, it didn’t happen for us that night. There was no eruption. We were okay with this, since we have a view of Mt Etna (another active volcano) from our bedroom balcony back home in Sicily. We did watch the beautiful sunset and took many pictures of the spectacular views from the sea.
We spent a very relaxing vacation at the Aeolian Islands. Paul is excellent at creating videos and this trip’s video was no exception. Our friends made it a wonderful time and we just added more memories to our book of life!