While figuring out where to go this summer, a friend told us that the Aeolian Islands of Italy are said to be like the Greek Islands without the terrible tourism. He knew of this place because his Sicilian grandmother was originally from these areas. In some ways it was a true statement, the tourism is a little nicer from some Greek Islands, but in other ways it was not at all comparable.
Getting to the Aeolian Islands was an adventure in itself. From London we took a 3-hour flight to Catania, a 2-hour bus ride to Milazzo, then a 1-hour ferry to Lipari. If I had my own boat I would gladly sail multiple days to get to Italy rather than being huddled like cattle on all 3 modes of transportation. The plus side to chartering a private boat would also mean total freedom on the sea, but we were on a budget… so cattle mode it was! It really wasn’t too bad, the ferry was a good break in the day to take a quick little nap. Luckily we were able to rent a scooter for one of the days and it was enough to check out the majority of the island. It was the easiest way to get around with all the tiny hilly streets, lots of areas were single-lane and the cars could barely fit.
Pumice at Havana Beach
The Aeolian islands have a volcanic origin, and past eruptions created lots of pale white pumice. There are beautiful photos of pumice beach by the old mining caves, but we read somewhere that the actual beach by the mining caves is now more grey than it is white. We were lucky to randomly stop by Havana beach and still experience the white pumice first hand.
Cathedral, Ruins, Cats
It’s a short walk from our Airbnb apartment to the Cattedrale di San Bartolomeo. In the area there are ancient ruins and a cat sanctuary, which meant lots of photo sessions with cute kitties.
Diving and snorkeling
I wasn’t brave enough to try a beginner dive, but also didn’t want to miss the chance to see any reefs – so I went along with snorkel gear instead. Since I’m not a strong swimmer I was offered a wet suit along with my fins, which made me super buoyant. It was my first experience going on a dive boat, and it was rad! We were taken to a small rock protrusion in the middle of the sea and it was pretty cool to swim with big schools of these small black disc-shaped fish. There were lots of jellyfish on one side of the little island, luckily nobody was stung.