AEOLIAN ISLANDS – Discovering Stomboli island
Do you want to discover the beauties of Stromboli island? Read this post that will take you to discover the beauties of the island and will give you excellent suggestions.
Stromboli island is one of the seven islands of the Aeolian archipelago, its volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. This island is the only one of the archpilago with a permanent eruptive activity. Its activity is called “strombolian“: every 10 – 20 minutes there are explosions with lava and lapilli launched up to a hundred meters high.
The island is a destination for day trips or night trips. Day travelers usually visit the beaches near the port and the sqare, the night ones usually take place by sea to watch the explosions of the volcano from the Sciara del fuoco.
The atmosphere of the island is not appreciated with these hit and run trips, to appreciate the magic of the island I recommend staying there for several days. Some of the main attractions of the island, such as the sciara del fuoco and the climb to the crater, are to be done only at night.
Stromboli island - Curiosities
The island does not have public lighting, so you will have to take a torch with you, you will have the opportunity to see a starry sky that you hardly see in your cities.
On the island there is not drinking water. During the summer, three times a week, a tanker from Milazzo or Naples brings water. In the winter only once a week.
About 500 inhabitants live on the island, they live in two villages: Stromboli (with the districts of S. Vincenzo and Piscità) and Ginostra, on the opposite side which can be accessed only from the sea. Ginostra is famous for its port called Pertuso entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest port in the world. Today the port has been enlarged and the ferries are able to dock.
The pupils are about ten and attend a “mixed” class, children of different ages are in the same class. When bad weather rages and the ferries do not leave Milazzo the school remains closed. To attend high school, the kids are forced to leave the island, on Stromboli the school is only guaranteed until middle school.
Stromboli island - Beaches
The common denominator of all the beaches is the sand: black and soft that will burn your feet.
I suggest you to avoid the beaches near the port, they are less uglier and more popular, especially by day visitors.
Therefore, if you head to Piscità you will find more beautiful and less frequented beaches, in particular:
- Ficogrande Beach: the only one equipped with refreshment points, umbrellas and deck chairs. It is made up of volcanic pebbles and black sand and it is bathed by a blue sea. In front of you stands Strombolicchio, an uninhabited rock. The black sand reaches very high temperatures, be careful not to burn the soles of your feet.
- Long Beach: continuing you will find coves, none are equipped, there are no restaurant services. What a thrill to bathe in the waters and hear the rumblings of Iddu (as the people call the volcano) which is right above the beach. From here it is possible to see a beautiful sunset.
Stromboli island - Climb to the crater
Unlike what happened years ago, today it is not possible to climb to the top of the crater: the eruption of 2019 has canceled the trails and until they have been restored the ascents are suspended, you have to stop at an altitude of 300 meters. There are numerous guides who offer this excursion with the same itinerary and the same cost (about 25 euros per person), they differ in the meeting place and in the competence of the guide. However, if you are in good condition and equipped with torches, you can easily carry out the excursion independently.
Not knowing that the excursion was so simple and mindful of the hike at an altitude of 900 meters made years ago, we relied on a guide but, if I had to do it again, I would do it independently: it is very feasible! The advantage of an independent excursion, in addition to economic savings, is the management of time, you are not tied to the guide that tells you when it is time to return. For the ascent, calculate about two hours and about an hour for the descent, these times have been calculated with a calm pace and with various breaks.
Getting to an altitude of 900 meters was very hard, getting up to 290 meters is much less so and the emotions you will experience will be too.
Let’s say that the “reduced form” excursion that is being proposed now is not in the least comparable to the excursion that was done up to an altitude of 900, the volcano was really close and the explosions as well. I suggest you to take part to the excursion with guide only if you are not sure to go alone.
If you choose the excursion whit the guide.......
In Stromboli there are many agencies that organize the climb to the crater, contact them in time as, with Covid restrictions, they can accompany a limited number of tourists. Generally they leave every day at around 18:00 from the town square, arrive at the observation point just before sunset giving you the opportunity to watch the sunset over the sea, the return is around 22:30. During the journey there are some stops during which the guide will tell you some anecdotes about the island. It will take you along a longer and more scenic path on the way out and a shorter path on the way back.
If you choose to climb by yourself.......
There are two paths, usually one is used on the way there and one on the return. Nothing prevents you from using the same for both the outward and return journeys, in this case I recommend that you use the return path.
For the forward path you have to take the road Soldato Francesco Natoli until it becomes a dirt road, from here continue on the path. After a while you will reach the old cemetery where the victims of the 1930 eruption are buried. Continue along the path until you reach the observation point at an altitude of 290. Here you will stop to watch the spectacle of the explosions.
For the return path, go down and take the road that passes in front of the Observatory.
To make the “reduced” path up to an altitude of 300 meters you do not need any particular equipment, even if they tell you to wear mountain boots I can assure you that they are not necessary, we have made the path with normal jogging shoes. Take with you another sweater, a sweatshirt and a pair of long pants: after dark it gets chilly. Remember to take water and some snacks to eat upon arrival and above all remember the torch, the front one is excellent.
Stromboli island - Observatory
For those who do not want to climb, there is a more comfortable but equally fascinating alternative: candlelit dinner at the Observatory.
The “Osservatorio” is a restaurant / pizzeria located at the foot of the volcano, here you can dine by candlelight and enjoy the spectacle offered by the volcano. The restaurant is located along the old Piscità mule track that leads to the top of Stromboli, located about 600 meters from the crater, it is possible to admire the explosions of the volcano which is always active while tasting excellent dishes.
It is located about 2.5 kilometers from Piazza San Vincenzo, you can take a walk or take advantage of the free shuttle service organized by the restaurant. From San Bartolo, darting through the narrow streets, it will lead you to the restaurant. The menu includes pizza, meat and fish. We tasted a bit of everything: all very good and prices in the standard.
Also for the return you can use the shuttle, at the time of payment ask for the shuttle service you will be given a number with which you will be called to get on the shuttle, depending on the time there will be more or less to wait.
As it is very popular, I suggest you to book early. To do so you can call +390909586991.
Excursions by sea
You can take part in a boat trip, at the port you will find various agencies that will offer you their excursions, the prices and routes are similar.
The evening excursion to the Sciara del Fuoco is interesting, the large black basin into which the volcano’s lava flows have been pouring for centuries. From this point, at night, you can view the spectacle of Stromboli in activity: the flows look like torrents of fire, while the darkness is dispelled by the luminous beams of the burning slag.
Stromboli island - Practical Information
How to reach the island
Ferries leave regularly from Milazzo, transport is managed by the Libertylines company. At this link you will find all the timetables and prices of the ferries. The online booking function is very convenient, we have always used this. If you have special timetable requirements, I recommend that you purchase tickets in advance.
Hydrofoils are the fastest way to reach the island of Stromboli. It is possible to allow pets to travel upon payment of the ticket.
Ferries are slower but also cheaper and allow the transport of cars, motorcycles and bulky packages.
On days when the sea is very rough, hydrofoils are suppressed, but connections are still ensured by ferries. The total suspension of the races takes place only on exceptionally stormy days.
How to get around on the island
On the island you travel mainly on foot and the roads are generally uphill.
There is no public transport, the town of Stromboli can be traveled from one end to the other in about 20 minutes on foot. There are numerous electric taxis that, at a cost of 10 euros, will take you to any point on the island.
On the island it is possible to rent electric motors and bicycles, as well as rafts and boats.
We stayed at “B&B Il Giardino Segreto” located on via Soldato Francesco Natoli, one of the last houses. The owners are very kind, they will welcome you in a well-kept garden with plants of all kinds, the panoramic terrace where breakfast is served is very beautiful. There are several rooms, ours was quite large with a double bed and a bunk bed, it is equipped with a mosquito net. I recommend it.
Where to eat
For lunch we have always bought something (pizzas, focaccia, …) at the bakery in via Natoli.
For dinner we went to the Observatory.
There are two ATMs on the island, one near the square of San Vincenzo and the other in Ficogrande, near La Sirenatte Hotel. They are not always functioning, so I recommend you to take cash. In shops you will not always be able to pay by debit card and / or credit card as the line seems to work on and off.