Saturday, July 14, 2007

June 2007 - Stromboli, Sicily - The Lighthouse of the Tyrennian Sea

From Lipari, we took a sightseeing trip to Stromboli. Approaching this active volcano while cruising on the dark blue waters that surround it is a feast of colors for the eyes. Unfortunately no photograph can capture all the tones of blues, greens, browns and whites that we saw as we approached Stromboli and the sharply peaked mountain became more vibrant and more jagged.
Stromboli, the northeastern most island of the Aeolian archipelago, is most famous for its still-active crater.
This volcano is the only one in Europe and one of the few in the world with continuous eruptive activity. People have written about their fear and fascination with this volcano for more than 2,000 years. The ancient Greeks believed that the god of fire (known as Vulcan to the Romans) lived in the depths of Mount Etna and caused the constant eruptions of Sicily's volcanoes. It is for this reason that the island was known since ancient times as the "Lighthouse of the Tyrennian Sea".

This side of Stromboli is called Sciara del Fuoco and it is a lava field that, as you can see from the slope, allows the lava to flow from the crater straight down into the sea.
The lava field is the only portion of the volcano that is not covered in lush green vegetation. Instead, it shows the tracks of lava from ancient to brand new. From an observatory in the middle of the volcano, vulcanologists are continuously studying these tracks to help them better understand volcanoes. Yet, they still do not know why, this volcano has ceased erupting for the past 3 weeks and they believe it must be linked to Mount Etna's recent eruptions but there is not yet concrete proof.

Stromboli is known for its craggy, dramatic cliffs. Strombolicchio, a small island off the coast of Stromboli, shows just how jagged and tall those cliffs can be.
Stromboli is also known for its black sand beaches which lead to deep blue water. The inlet all around this volcano is very deep as the sides of the mountain are steeply sloped.

The black rock, created from lava which is quickly cooled after colliding with the sea, cools into all types of unusual formations like the one behind us. The homes on Stromboli's shores are all painted stark white to create a lovely contrast with the black sand, the blue sky and the deep green vegetation. I don't think there could be a more perfect combination of colors.
The town center of Stromboli is small and uninhabited - as there are very few locals that live on the island and they are mainly the rough and tumble fisherman type. The main square has a beautiful spanish tower also painted in a stark white that looks like it belongs in the Greek Isles.After all that sightseeing we stopped for some cocktails in a fabulous, all white bar with great tropical decor. It was like finding a little bit of South Beach but surrounded by the peace and quiet of this remote island.
We reboarded our sightseeing boat just in time to watch the sunset behind Stromboli . . .

producing amazing tones of pink and gold behind the volcano. It would have been the perfect moment for an eruption but . . .
ever since the eruption of Mount Etna about 3 weeks before our trip, Stromboli has ceased erupting on a nightly basis. Before this period, Stromboli had erupted almost every evening for at least 2,000 years. We felt unlucky for about 5 minutes. Then we took a look at the natural beauty around us and it made it real hard to feel sorry for ourselves.

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