Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
The Aeolian Islands
North of Sicily, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, a group of seven volcanic islands rise from the cobalt-blue waters; they are called Salina, Lipari, Vulcano, Alicudi, Filicudi, Panarea, Basiluzzo, and Stromboli; the group was named after Aeolus, god of the winds, by Greek settlers who emigrated to the region from the city of Corinth and brought with them Malvasia grapes that produce the spectacular sweet golden wine made on these islands.
Vulcano and Stromboli are the last active volcanoes in the area. Stromboli, still belches steam and smoke and, when viewed from a boat at night, there are streams of Roman candle-like eruptions that illuminate the skyline. During the day, Stromboli is seen expelling plumes of smoke every five minutes or so, like an old man puffing on a corncob pipe.
Lipari is the largest island in the archipelago but Salina and Panarea are the most popular, with Relais & Châteaux hotels and resorts dotting the islands. This is the playground of Sicilian aristocracy and Italy’s very beautiful and very wealthy; and the setting for fertile vineyards and picturesque villages. In the summer, the port overflows with multi-million-euro yachts. The stunning blue waters provide sport opportunities for swimmers, anglers, sailors and divers; gourmets can sip honey-sweet Malvasia wines from the local vineyards.
The best way that you can enjoy Salina is by boat. There are many places where you can rent one or you might prefer to tour the island under the guidance of a skipper. A boat trip to the offshore islets is a must. The formation and colors of the rock monoliths rising from the sea is unique.
One of my favorite European resorts is located at Salinas, in the center of the Caravaglio vineyard, called Capofaro. It belongs to the owners of the Tasca d’Almerita winery on the Sicilian mainland. When staying at the property, which is a collection of twenty seven farm houses located amongst the sprawling vines, updated with the latest luxury furnishings, plus the offices and restaurant, you’ll definitely want to try the Michelin-starred restaurant Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia.
You are also likely, however, to want to spend some time in Lingua, lying on the black-sand and stony beach or lingering over a granita at the famous Da Alfredo bar, an island institution. Sorbets of fresh fruit or ground nuts are made on the premises by Alfredo and his sons; in season, the chocolate, orange, blackberries, hazelnut, lemon, peach, apricot, pistachio, almond, melon or vanilla sorbets are joined by fig and fichi d’india (prickly pears).
The islanda are rustic, romantic and quaint and at the same time sophisticated and international. What you’ll get out of them depends on you and your personal taste.
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