I am so very excited about today's post. It's another travel post, yes, I'm taking you out of Paris twice in a row with Barcelona, but I promise you won't regret it. This place is pretty amazing.
The Aeolian Islands are an archipelago of seven volcanic islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just north of Sicily. With a permanent population of 15.000 people total, they do attract tourists in the summer but remain a relatively isolated place, feeling somewhat out of time and space, especially the most remote islands like Alicudi, with no roads and very few ferries going there (one per week in low season). To reach them from Paris I flew to Catania, Sicily, then took a bus to Milazzo and a ferry from there.
We stayed in Salina, in a lovely aeolian house in Santa Marina di Salina, facing the sea on the east side of the island.
We soon grew attached to the view from our terrace, ever-changing with the shifts of light and shade in the sky, but somehow reassuring and comforting in its immutability: there is something indescribably soothing in seeing always the same silhouettes of the same islands rising from the immense flat surface of the sea, like ancient sisters of the same family, someone we can trust we'll invariably find at its place over and over again, until we know by heart all the very little details of their profile.
We explored the island from side to side either on foot, by bus or by vespa, between swims, enchanting views, unforgettable encounters, starry nights, plenty of delicious granite, breathtaking moonrises, a hike up to the 960 meters high crater of Mount Fossa delle Felci, and of course chatting, catching up on our lives and daydreaming about the future, but also enjoying the sounds of the island, especially its silence.
The sights are stunning, full of character and personality. This is no place for lounging idly in comfort. Life in volcanic islands at this latitude means a thousand years history of adaptation to the local climat, the hot sun, the danger of eruptions and sea storms, trying to get something nourishing out of the dry soil, protecting one's skin from the sole-melting black pebbles and rocks making up the local shores (no white sandy beaches, nope). We found that fascinating and humbling. Life here gets reduced to its simplest elements. No fuss, no entertainment, no distractions. Just keeping oneself alive and diving deep into the beauty of it all.
*btw, the extreme heat is what caused the spots and stains you see in the photos: film doesn't like high temperatures. But I like this effect!
I think June is really the best time to visit these islands, when nature is in full bloom before getting all burned by the summer sun. We got all the best of the capers flowers, prickly pears yellow blossoms, wild dill exhaling its smell in the air, eucalyptus ensuring some shade to the highest parts of the island, oleanders, luscious ferns, bougainvillea, plumbago...
One day we took a ferry to Alicudi, the furthest west of all the islands, with a population of 150 people + some mules to carry anything heavy up and down the few steep trails. Out of this world. Here we got to meet a very special character and to eat what was probably the freshest and cheapest fish plateau of our entire lives.
Lots of photos, I know, but I couldn't help myself here. These islands are in my heart, I hope to go back some day.