Sometimes living on an island is so busy and hectic that you just have to go to a smaller island to enjoy some peace and relax.
Ok, not really, but we love going to the Aeolian islands just north of our bigger island. I’ve written about them a few times, and every time I go it’s such a perfect experience. Except for that one time bad weather cancelled our boats and we got stuck….but even that was a fun adventure.
The Aeolian Islands are a string of 7 little islands (think Hawaii, but much smaller), that are formed by a subduction zone. I’ve been to four of the seven islands, and each one is a little different. Stromboli’s two tiny towns are quiet, in contrast with it’s constantly spewing volcano. Panarea is small and beautiful. Vulcano has a lot of volcanic activity, which makes great, if smelly, sulfur baths and a really beautiful hike along the steaming crater. Then Lipari, the largest of the islands.
Lipari is geologically more complex than my basic college courses helped me understand, but it’s full of volcanic and human history. Lipari has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and has ruins dating back thousands of years. There are multiple volcanoes on the small island, which have created economic feasibility for the people in terms of fertile crop land, and exportable material. In 700 BC, one of the volcanoes erupted a massive amount of pumice. The pumice has been mined and exported up until just a few years ago, when UNESCO required the mining be halted. It left hundreds of workers jobless, but is probably the right choice to preserve the island.
After the pumice eruption were two obsidian flows. Obsidian from Lipari was mined during ancient times, and its presence all over the Mediterranean confirms ancient trading of the valuable commodity. Chunks of obsidian are used in the concrete paving the roads, and you find little pieces of it on hikes around the island.
Now, where was I? Our trip. We took the hydrofoil across to Lipari from Milazzo and were met by our Airbnb host at the port. He packed us into his Fiat Panda and drove us a couple minutes up to our house we rented for the weekend. We strolled around the darling town, had some lunch, drank some wine, and planned out our next day. We decided to rent a boat for the day and tour the island. There are a ton of beautiful areas and beaches that are difficult to access on foot, but by boat you can see all of the islands spectacular coastline. We hit up the grocery store to stock up on food and beer, and the next day we were on our way.
Our little boat was perfect for the four of us! The island only takes an hour or two to boat around, so we headed counter-clockwise, planning on just stopping wherever the water looked nice along the way.
It didn’t take us long to find our first stop. The water was SO clear and inviting, we couldn’t resist jumping it. I’ve seen a lot of nice water in my past year here, but I think this one takes the cake. You could see the 30 foot deep bottom as clear as if it was right in front of your face.
Our next stop was just a little way up the coast at the White Beach. The beach is right at the base of one of the old pumice quarries, which were abruptly abandoned when UNESCO put a stop to it. There are buildings along the water that were also abandoned, and they’re a little spooky to walk through. Pieces of pumice float through the water as they’re washed off the hillside.
Asa and Jenna swam to shore first to explore, while Sean and I waited on the boat. They were there quite a while, and kept holding things up and point excitedly at rocks. We couldn’t tell what they were talking about, but when the slowly swam back, we realized they’d found a ton of obsidian and were collecting it to bring back to the boat. Sean and I jumped in and took our turn on shore, picking through all the pieces of obsidian to find the best ones that were worthy of the swim back to the boat. We brought a ridiculous amount back, I almost drown myself as I was laughing at how many rocks I was swimming with.
We boated the rest of the way around the island, stopping here and there for lunch or a swim. It was truly a perfect day on our own little boat exploring a beautiful island.