Alicudi, Sicily

© Giancarlo72 –

Its cone shape leaves you in no doubt at all about its origins. Stromboli is a volcano and its landscapes and panoramas are absolutely unique.

Tradition has it that this was the realm of Aeolus, god of the winds, made of bronze in Homer’s description and probably inspired by the island’s surreal colours. Clearly the volcano is the main reason to visit the island. A three hour walk takes you to the summit and you can get to Punta del Bronzo, the best place to watch the volcano’s activities, in 15 minutes.

The most spectacular panorama is of the Sciara del Fuoco slope which is periodically inundated with molten lava pouring down into the deep blue sea of an island whose sea bed is as deep as 1200 metres below sea level. On occasions you can even watch the eruptions and lava flows which were famous even in ancient times as one of the largest natural lighthouses in the world.

Ginostra and San Vincenzo

The island’s most famous village is absolutely tiny. Believed by some to be the island’s smallest port, Ginostra, whose name comes from ginestra, the Italian word for the broom which is so characteristic of the Mediterranean maquis vegetation was much loved by Giacomo Leopardi. The harbour square and the little houses climb up the cliffs to the few houses of the tiny peaceful villages that make up the Aeolian isles.

The tourist centre of Stromboli is San Vincenzo, the island’s other port. The town’s white houses, its narrow streets and a great many shops and bars are scattered across a fascinating landscape of vineyards with the volcano’s dark profile behind them.

Beaches and sea

Black beaches of volcanic lava meet the blue of a pristine sea in a unique and unforgettable kaleidoscope of colours. The most beautiful pebbly bays are in Piscità, whose beach is one of the archipelago’s longest, and Ficogrande, the busiest tourist and bar destination. The little island of Strombolicchio is a diver’s paradise.