We chose the city of Catania, which is located at the foot of Mount Etna, as the starting point of the trip. This is the best place in the area where you can rent a car to go to conquer the volcano. The Rifugio Sapienza site at an altitude of 1900 meters can be reached by car, then everyone transfers to the funicular, which goes up to the mark of 2500 meters. Another 500 meters up can be driven on a special bus, and only on foot further. The main thing you need to be prepared for is a change in temperature. It is quite cold and windy at the top, so even if the day is very hot, you should take a jacket and closed shoes with you.
The scenery above is simply Martian. Here it is just right to shoot fantastic films: the crater smokes, there is no vegetation, stones of bizarre shape are scattered everywhere, the wind carries black volcanic sand. We stayed on the volcano for about an hour, after which we went to our first port – Portorosa. On the way, we stopped for lunch at the Murgo winery, bought groceries for the journey and drove onto the A-18 motorway, which passes Taormina, the Giardini Naxos resort, and the Etnaland amusement park. And, of course, we admired the picturesque Strait of Messina all the way.
This is a cozy marina, from where yacht routes often start towards the Aeolian Islands and the nearest island to Sicily, Vulcano. Up to 700 boats can moor here at the same time, but during the season there may not be enough space. It was in this port that we rented our yacht, and here we will have to return at the very end of our journey. In addition, Europcar car rental is available in Portorosa. Booking a car on his Italian page is cheaper than on the Russian one. There is also a beach in the marina, however, no one stays here for a long time.
We reached our first stop, the island of Vulcano, only in the evening. There was already a full house of yachts: absolutely everything was occupied at the anchorage (it’s understandable, it’s free), so we had to get up at the pier for money. The cost of such a parking lot is about 70 euros per team, but you can go ashore at any time without using a dinghy (editor’s note “dinga” is a small inflatable boat).
Vulcano is a small volcanic island with black sand beaches and fantastic landscapes. Several of its volcanoes have long been silent, but one is still considered active. To look at it, you need to spend about five hours (unfortunately, cars do not go there). Therefore, we weighed everything, gave up the idea of storming another volcano and went to see the mud baths and fumaroles, which are located just 15 minutes on foot from the marina a poisonous yellow coating is formed). It is on these fumaroles that European pensioners like to sit and warm their bones, although the smell next to them is simply terrible.
The main attractions of the island are the mud baths where you can swim, and the Acque calde beach with underwater fumaroles, so the sea in some places seethes like a jacuzzi. That is why you need to go into the water very carefully and only in beach slippers, otherwise you can burn your feet. Feeling like a bee sting – not fatal, but unpleasant.
A 15-minute walk from Acque calde is the usual Ponente beach with black volcanic sand – the best beach in the Aeolian Islands.
Keep in mind that after local mud baths, the body smells of hydrogen sulfide for several days, and clothes absorb the smell so much that you can only get rid of it after several washes. Next to the “bath” there is a shower, which can be used for 2 euros.
We went to Lipari the next day. The sea this time was as calm as the day before. Therefore, it was possible to have fun in full: we rode on a dinghy tied to the stern and on mooring lines (editor’s note “hemp or wire rope”) under the motor of the yacht. We managed to arrive at the marina early, so we managed to get a place in the parking lot.
Among the islands of the archipelago, Lipari occupies a central place. In addition, a small town of the same name is located on it, which is best reached from the marina by a shuttle bus. Although the distance is short, about three kilometers, the road here is narrow and passes through the mountains, so walking along it is not at all safe. The capital of the archipelago is a small, very picturesque and very sleepy city, where it is difficult to find an open shop after a siesta. An ancient fortress wall stretches around the old quarter. If you walk along it, you can walk to the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew – the patron saint of these places. Near the temple there is a panoramic platform, from where the surroundings are wonderfully visible.
There are many cats on the island, and in some places there are even signs “These meowing persons are fashion models, and if you photograph them, then please, help the poor things for food!”
The next day, our path lay on the island of Stromboli – an active volcano that erupts at intervals of about 10-20 minutes.