While Italy’s mainland has a rich beauty with historic cities, rolling fields and tranquil towns, there comes a time when even the Italian locals want to get away on holiday. When they do, they almost always flock to the same area: the Aeolian Islands. Found in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just north of Sicily, the seven islands make up a dramatic landscape with black-sand beaches, smouldering craters and splintered, rocky coastlines. The islands are the perfect setting for quiet moments of reflection and complete relaxation. Join us as we explore the Aeolian Islands and escape the constant bustle of modern life.
A haven for the rich and famous, Panarea is easily the most luxurious and perhaps the most beautiful of the Aeolian Islands. Full of elegant hotels and stylish bars, yet it’s the island’s natural beauty that really steals the show.
The dark gold sandy beach of Zammarà and the magnificent bay of Cala Junca sit just moments away from the island’s most fascinating treasure - the historic beach of Calcara, where fumaroles steaming through sulphur-stained rocks led ancient Panareans to believe it was an entrance to the Underworld.
Twin-peaked Salina is the greenest of the islands and is home to Monte Fossa Delle Felci, which is the highest peak in the Aeolian Islands. Woodlands, wildflowers and grapevines cascade out to dramatic coastal cliffs, giving the distinct sense that the rest of the world is a long way away.
Santa Marina Salina, the main port, is home to pretty 19th-century houses and stylish boutique shops, while nearby Rinella boasts a beautiful and otherworldly black-sand beach. If you have the opportunity, an evening spent watching the sunset at Pollara, the setting for the 1994 film Il Postino, is a truly magical experience.
If you want to experience a slice of classic Italian romance, head to Stromboli. The island captured the imaginations of countless tourists in the 1950s as the setting for Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini’s film Stromboli, Terra Dio.
These days, the volcano is Stromboli's main attraction. It’s a majestic sight that rises dramatically from the sea, forming a picture-perfect silhouette that is both captivating and imposing. There are also beautiful beaches to enjoy, with a highlight being the little coves of black sand tucked into lava crags along the coast at Piscità, where you can take in stunning views of the islet of Strombolicchio.
The largest of the islands, Lipari is the only one with a sizeable town – giving it the deserved reputation as the gateway to the Aeolian Islands. The town is home to a fortified acropolis, flower-hung alleys and the pretty harbour of Marina Corta, where the inviting pastel shades of the picturesque buildings dazzle above the sparkling water just seconds away.
Moving away from the town, the island’s natural beauty is just as impressive, with peaceful windswept highlands that give way to a dramatic coast that offers visitors a feeling of true connection with nature, where the wild and rocky cliffs tower above the splintered rocks that lie just offshore.
Home to a constantly smouldering volcano, warm mud baths and bubbling mid-sea fumaroles, Vulcano has been impressing visitors with its rugged beauty since the days of the Romans.
The Fossa di Vulcano, a smoking volcano that rises high above the northeastern coast, is the main attraction and exploring the rest of the island reveals a landscape that’s surprisingly diverse. In Porto di Levante you’ll find a busy seaside town, while in Gelso you’ll be able to swim out from incredible volcanic beaches. Then there’s the island’s peaceful centre where you’ll find lush greenery and fragrant gardens accompanied by the sweet sound of birdsong.