It was just so much fun that we had to go again.
After one weekend out on the Aeolian Islands, we decided that we had to go back – after all, it wasn’t enough to see just two of the seven. So, we made our way back to Milazzo for another tour of the islands.
We opted to go with the same company again, because we really enjoyed how it went the first time around. Little did we know, though, we’d have the same exact crew. Different boat, different islands, same crew. Unfortunately, there was less time to socialize with the crew this time around, it being a daytime tour to two of the closest islands, but we did manage a nice conversation with the skipper as he was piloting the ship into dock on Lipari. It turns out, he was from Lipari, and was happy that we were getting the chance to see his hometown.
For the record, we were also happy that we were getting to see his hometown. Lipari is probably the favorite island among Sicilians for a weekend getaway, and it’s easy to see why. It’s not so far out as Panarea, and the town is cute as a button.
The cruise dropped us off in the old harbor, which is now the center of the tourist activity on the island. There’s another port just around the coast that the car ferry goes into, but that one was less interesting for us.
We walked up the mountain to the museum complex – on Lipari, there’s an archaeological museum that houses all the artifacts that were found on the Aeolians, many of which date back to the first Greek occupation of the islands (a really long time ago). There’s a whole complex, which includes the excavations of the Greek roads and the Duomo. While wandering around up there, we met a lovely man selling jewelry and trinkets that he’d fashioned out of the islands’ natural resources: obsidian from Lipari and coral from Stromboli. After chatting with him for a bit and buying a bracelet, we wandered over to the reconstruction of the Greek theater that had been up on top of the mountain (again, back in the days of Greek occupation). We even made a friend while we were there!
Our stay on Lipari ended with a gelato stop in the old harbor before we got back on the boat. We then took a tour of the coastlines of both Lipari and Volcano. You always see postcards of the Italian or Aegean islands, with bright blue water all the way around and think, Wouldn’t that be a nice place to go? But in reality, you never expect to go somewhere with water that blue. We’re so used to filters and Photoshop that we don’t think it’s natural. At least in this neck of the woods, it’s real.
After our mini-tour, we stopped at Volcano and wandered about. Unlike Lipari, Volcano seems to be mostly hotels and holiday homes. There are magnificent beaches, which have black sand from the volcanic rock that the islands are made out of. There are also geothermal baths, which you can smell for miles around. People from all over Sicily come to take the waters on Volcano, which are said to be good for everything from skin ailments to breathing problems. It seemed to us that Volcano would be best enjoyed over a long weekend, so that you’d have more time to go hiking up the mountain and lay on the beaches for a while.
We had a few hours to walk along the beaches, do some shopping, and find a snack before hopping back on the boat and zooming into Milazzo. Despite the lack of free drinks and glowing jellyfish sightings with the crew, we called it a success.