Aeolian Islands – Sicily, Italy
An Archipelago of Volcanic Gems and Barefoot Chic
Named for AloIus, god of the winds, and also known as the Lipari Islands, the chain of Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie) floats off Sicily’s northeastern flank, mere specks on the map of the Mediterranean Sea. This necklace of seven small isles blessed with grottoes, bays, hidden coves, simple ways, and still- active volcanoes.
Though but baby sisters to Mount Etna on the eastern coast of nearby Sicily, the volcanoes on Stromboli and Vulcano (where legend says Aeolus lived) have created melancholy, beautiful terrain and sandy black beaches.
Lipari, the attractive capital island and the largest, has an animated old town dominated by a 17th-century castello that houses a noted archaeological museum. A pleasant road encircles the unchanged island of Salina and its two extinct volcanoes; its rustic scenery was the backdrop of the popular Italian movie II Postino (The Postman).
But Panarea is the jewel of the archipelago, brilliantly retaining that quintessential Italian mix of simplicity and upscale chic. Created in the 1960s as a bohemian alternative to the overly fashionable resort of Capri, it is the summer destination of northern Italian fashion and design types, who come for the barefoot lifestyle and low-key pace.
The only time to get even minimally glamorous is when dining at Hotel Raya, whose breezy open terraces and top-notch restaurant overlook spectacular volcanic offshore rocks and Iddu, Stromboli’s always rumbling volcano.