Saturday, July 14, 2007

June 2007 - Aeolian Islands, Sicily - Island Hopping

As we set sail for Cefalu (a 5-hour ferry ride to mainland Sicily) from Lipari, we made stops at all of the Aeolian Islands, even those too remote and too isolated to peak our interest.
We passed Vulcano which is the closest island to Lipari. Famous for its therapeutic, sulphur baths, this is a stinky place to stay. It is made up of 4 volcanoes but only the Vulcano della Fossa is still considered active. The activity manifests itself in the forms of hot muds and underwater fumaroles used to cure arthritis and a variety of infections. Needless to say we did not get into the mud baths, but enjoyed the beauty of the island from the coast.

We made a stop at Filicudi which together with Alicudi is the oldest of the archipelago's islands. The island is made up of 6 volcanic craters, the oldest of which must have been located in the sea and the youngest of which is Montagnola, the volcano that also created Alicudi. One of the most recognized feature of Filicudi is the faraglione (protruding rock) pictured above. This stack of basalt rock is called Faraglione della Canna and measures about 278 ft high.

This island is archeaologically very interesting as there are findings of prehistoric villages dating from between 1700 and 1300 B.C. The Greek period, however, left few traces of life on this island. Now the population is just 250 permanent residents.
We stopped at Alicudi, the archipelago's westernmost island. This island was formed by the dead Montagnola volcano approximately 150,000 years ago after explosive and effusive eruptions. Like the other Aeolian islands, this volcano must have suddenly sunk resulting in steep cliffs and enormous stones jutting out of the sea.
This island abandoned in the Middle Ages and recolonized again during Spanish rule. The current population is about 140 people that live off of fishing and agriculture. Some people also rent out private rooms to tourists and this is probably a really authentic way to experience these islands.
From here we sailed to Cefalu on calm seas (lucky for Casandra's weak stomach).

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