So what do you do when you are spending a few weeks on a big island like Sicily in the Med? Well you go visit the smaller islands of it’s coast of course. We set sail from Milazzo for the Aeolian Island chain off the Northern coast of Sicily. These are a mixture of volcanic islands ranging from dormant to volcanic mud baths to active lava flow. We intend to spend nine nights in total on the islands spending three nights on three different ones.
Our first port of call was Lipari which is the largest settlements of all eight of the islands. Our AirBnB host Claudio picked us up from the ferry in his Tuk-Tuk to whisk us away to his little patch of paradise in the foothills overlooking the island. Credit to the mighty Tuk-Tuk as it easily accommodated three adults, two kids, one dog, one maxi-cosi, one bolder car, one Ryanair approved carryon suitcase, one fold-up travel cot, one beach bag and one crate of odds and ends mainly a mix of children and cooking stuff.
It’s hard to know what is better Claudio’s enthusiastic and genuinely friendly personality or the breathtaking view from the mountain top property he runs with his brothers. It really is a stop and stare moment when you arrive at first. It takes you quite a while to fully soak up the unspoiled view from the terrance, dropping down the mountain sides to the harbour town of Lipari and out across the Mediterranean towards Sicily with the massive Vulcano island, famous for its mud baths and its pungent eggy sulphuric stench, rising out of the sea to the foreground. Postcards are just not big enough to do this picture perfect view justice.
Claudio and his family made us feel more than welcome and I am happy to report that apparently size does matter, when it comes to cleanness smaller is better. This islands are not effected by the haphazard spew of rubbish that their big brother Sicily endures.I guess the sense of community is much bigger here on the smaller islands, everyone literally does know each other and it shows, they come across as one big happy family at least from the outside looking in. There is something enchanting about island life, it feels once again similar to how we spent or time on Lofoten in Norway. I guess it’s because you have to put that extra little bit of effort into getting there, there is always a ferry or plane involved. And once you are there you get to live amongst people who are shaped and influenced by the isolation, island life offers/enforces upon you. Frankly I find it very refreshing, but hey I come from Ireland that big island off the West coast of Europe where we talk about places like ‘mainland Europe’. The melting pot is much smaller on an island but sometimes what you are cooking tastes so much better.
Our second island to visit was Salina, it is much smaller than Lipari with a lot less people only about about 4000 permanent residents. I say ‘permanent’ but apparently every winter quite a lot of the residents up and move to Australia to avoid the ‘cold’ weather. This phenomenon is even reflected in the local graveyards where mentions of Australia can be seen on some of the gravestones. We enjoyed some of the tastiest dishes in Italy so far here on Sabrina. Our local restaurant in Leni had the most deliciously mouth watering chicken we’ve ever tasted, all served up by an absolutely delightful account looking old lady with whom we had to do extensive sign language to communicate. Perhaps that added to the charm.
But now it was time to visit de volcano, Stromboli, one of three current active volcanoes in Italy. We needed to take two ferries and change over back on Lipari. The second ferry was cancelled due to rough seas so there we were with a baby, a toddler, a dog and way too much luggage stranded on the pier in the midday sun. However after a quick call to Claudio, and a few drinks in the bar we found ourselves back home in our old apartment, where better to be stranded than at Villa Paradiso.