Saturday, July 14, 2007

June 2007 - Panarea, Sicily - The Place to be Seen

Panarea, anciently called Hycesia, is the smallest and by far the most exlcusive of the Aeolian Islands. It has a surface of only 3.4 km sq. We took an 11.5 mile boat trip there from Lipari in order to check out what everyone told us was a real V.I.P. scene. This island exists to serve wealthy tourists and the 280 permanent residents all work in the service industry or as shopkeeoers.
We found a beautiful volcanic island dotted with large, striking, white homes and covered in flowers. We also found out that Panarea has been inhabited since the 3000 b.c.
Panarea and its surrounding rock islets are the remains of an ancient volcano, partially submerged in the sea during the interglacial periods. In the emerging land it is possible to see a single volcano with eruptive craters on it sides. Only the eastern part of the volcano remains as the rest sunk into the sea thereby significantly reducing the island's size.
These above sea level volcanic rock formations are believed to be the most ancient in the Aeolian islands.Our boat captain made a pit stop at the lovely cove of Cala Junco where only 4 pastye British tourists were able to get into the water . . . it was that cold! This Cala is almost completely enclosed by volcanic rock jutting out from the coast and filled with crystal blue waters and underwater rock formations visible from the surface.
Here we are passing Capo Milazzo at Cala Junco considered one of the most fascinating spots in the Aeolian Islands. Here, archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of a Neolithic village that inhabited this cove.
On our way to the main port we also passed Spiaggia degli Zimmari which was surrounded by yachts and sailboats and full of swimmers and divers.
As we approached the center of town, we could see why the island's bright white houses are the subject of so many poscards.
Here is a closer look of these elegant mansions that are now one of Panarea's most characteristic quality.
We got off the boat and immediately went for a stroll through the winding streets of Panarea's residential neighborhoods. Every turn provides an even better view.
Here is a classic bougainville-lined gate.
We stopped at the end of a street that provided a wonderful overlook toward Panarea's offshore rock formations and check out the lovely house behind us with the arched portico.

As we climbed higher up the volcano, the landscape became more desert like. Look at the cacti behind Casandra. This is an interesting juxtaposition to the tropical landscape and white villas seen throughout the island.

From this lookout point near the top of the residential neighborhood, we looked back at the center of Panarea. Look at all the white, there must be a law against painting houses any other color. It is really amazing against the blue sea.
After our hike we reboarded and sailed around the rock formations that sit just off Panarea's coast.
Volcanologists believe that these we formed by flying chunks of lava that hit the sea and cooled. Although, this theory is not proven, the rocks are definitely the product of cooled lava.
As we sailed away and looked back at Panarea, we could easily imagine what it must have looked like in prehistoric times. If you cannot see the white houses, then you can imagine that these rocks jutting out of the sea probably have not changed much. We had a feeling of being on the set of Jurassic Park.

No comments: