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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Vivacious Vulcano

The Aeolian Islands: standing on Vulcano, Lipa...Image via WikipediaBy Ambra Lancaster
Offering 7 times the fun, the Aeolian Islands stand out as one of Sicily's more popular destinations, Vulcano being one of the more notable. Seven islands and seven thousand years of history make the area rich in tales as well as natural resources and treasures. Named for the mythological Greek "Keeper of the Winds" the Islands enjoy an excellent climate year round and due to their nature attract many geologists as well as tourists.
Stromboli (the last officially active volcano), Panarea, Vulcano, Salina, Lipari, Filicudi, and Alicudi arose from the sea in the Pleistocene era about 40 km from the Sicilian Coast and offer 7 times the fun for lovers of nature, beaches, seafood, relaxation, and spa style treatment alike.
Aside from the awe of the intimidating vulcano itself and the absolutely stunning views offered at its imposing summit, Vulcano itself does have other draws, mostly brought on by its volcanic activity. Black sand beaches are nothing short of magical, and the Fanghi is definitely a de-stresser. Known for its sulphurous water and just minutes from the incoming ports (not just to the island of Vulcano itself, but rather a port of entry for all 7 islands), this spot is not only convenient but beneficial and healthy, with pools of warm yellowish mud that can be delightful to bathe in. The Fanghi, are larges pools of warm, muddy, sulphurous water situated only a few minutes' walk from the docks where most boats arrive on the island or arrive at the islands themselves. Most boats dock in Vulcano first before making for one of the other 6 islands, the most popular of course being Stromboli, where views of the mountain itself and brilliantly luminescent sunsets characterize the scenery. Again beautiful black sand beaches do nothing but beckon to the weary wanderer with open arms.

After bathing or swimming in the pools, it's nice to cover oneself with the mud and let it dry, much like a therapeutic facial mask or body mask and rinse it off. Emerge feeling rejuvenated, invigorated, and ready to experience more of what the Aeolian Islands have to offer. The thermal springs near the mud baths themselves are especially inviting since they add a warm, bubbly quality to the sea, rather like a natural hot tub and are most thereapeutic for anyone with arthritis or muscular problems and discomforts. As long as the smell of sulphur doesn't overpower you, a 2 euro entry fee is a small price to pay for a most relaxing day. On Vulcano it's important to pay attention to your feet and beware the vents that often release hot vulcanic air that is much less than pleasant to anyone in open toed shoes or unfortunate enough to walk over one as it erupts.
For the full package, meaning what mud baths and hot springs can offer and then some, with a dash of service and pizzazz to boot, staying in the right place is the key to enjoying your stay. The Therasia resort is a fortress of five star finery served up with a Sicilian twist. Offering scuba diving, snorkelling, boat, jet ski, and excursion hires Therasia brings service and more right to your door. Volcano trekking expert guides are also happy and available to take you and your party on a tour unveiling all the beauty Vulcano Island has to offer.
Cozy spots to sample some sumptuous local cuisine would be none other than the hotel offerings; L'Arcipelago with its panoramic views and scrumptious seafood, and Il Cappero with its typical ceiling of straw and delightfully simple local grilled specialties in a casually cool atmosphere. The hotel also offers 2 bars with dizzying selections of delicious cocktails and appetizer hour specials. Il Gazebo and Il Faraglione are both ideal spots to simmer down before a hefty Sicilian meal and perfect watering holes for even the most discerning of tastes.
Wherever one stays or indulges in the local cuisine, finery, beach scene, or chillout zone, none of these seven islands are set up to be a disappointment. In fact the views will capture, the beauty enslave, and everything about these 7 islands from their culinary wonders to service to scenery to history to geological wonders (dangerous and therapeutic alike, from volcanoes to hot springs) are nothing short of a beckoning draw, and beckon you to experience these islands. Heed the call of Aelous, Greek mythology's "keeper of the winds" and find out why these islands beg you to be their own.
Keep the winds to yourself on the Aeolian Islands:

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