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The Aeolian Islands and Sicily

The combination of active volcanoes, mountain hiking, natural thermal baths, and the hospitable and pleasant people makes the Aeolian Islands one of the most beautiful and magical places in the Mediterranean.

The combination of active volcanoes, mountain hiking, natural thermal baths, and the hospitable and pleasant people makes the Aeolian Islands one of the most beautiful and magical places in the Mediterranean.

Who is renting a yacht suitable for?

For thrill-seekers

The Lipari Islands are eminently suitable for thrill-seekers. They offer ideal yachting weather, fresh winds and sunny weather. There is a good reason why the Lipari Islands are also known as the Aeolian Islands—they take their name from the Greek god of the wind, Aeolus.

For sports yachtsmen

A sports sailing holiday around Sicily and Malta will thoroughly test the yachting skills of the whole crew.

For families

Discover the historical sights and places of natural beauty.

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The 10 most interesting places in the region

  1. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
  2. The long sandy belt in the coastal Parco di Rimigliano Nature Park
  3. Porto Baratti and the ancient Etruscan town of Pupolonia
  4. Portoferraio old harbour, the site of Napoleon’s first exile, Elba
  5. Marciana Marina and a trip to Monte Capanne, the highest mountain on Elba
  6. Scoglio Ogliera and snorkelling in the wreck of L'Elviscot, Elba
  7. Fetovaia Bay, a beautiful anchorage, Elba
  8. Porto Azzurro, Elba
  9. The island of Capraia
  10. The island of Giglio with the medieval village of Castello

When Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, was born of the sea foam, seven precious stones fell from her tiara, forming the breath-taking islands of Gorgona, Capraia, Elba, Pianosa, Montecristo, Giglio and Giannutri. Except for Pianosa and Giannutri, all are mountainous and rise precipitously  upwards, which is why the water is usually very deep near them. In direct contrast is the flat and fertile Italian coastline, with only a few hills that look like separate islands from a distance. This is a very popular place for yachting in summer, so it can be relatively busy. This group of islands will come in handy when crossing between the mainland and Corsica as you can have a nice little break there to recover your strength, but it is likely that you will want to stay longer than you originally intended, thanks to the inspirational charms of these islands.

Sicily is an island of riddles, whose natural beauty and rich culture cannot be compared to any other island. It is very difficult to not fall under its spell. Let’s imagine what it could be like. Early in the morning, you fly to the captivating ancient city of Palermo and after an essential cup of expertly-prepared espresso and a few bites of aromatic, fresh bread at Piazza Marina. You have only a few hours left until you take charge of the boat. Perhaps for a moment you succumb to the feeling of travel fatigue, but the beauty of the city is stimulating. You stand a little awestruck in Quattro Canti Square, surrounded on four sides by its Baroque palaces. And you are left spellbound when you pass through the colourful streets around the busy Vucciria market, which once enthralled the Arabs with their exotic trade.

A panoramic view of the city of Palermo A panoramic view of the city of Palermo

There is so much more to experience, but the time has come to set sail. The next week will be packed with experiences, stunning natural phenomena, and warm encounters with ancient history. West of Palermo, you cross the deep Bay of Castellamare and towards evening, you are admiring the most captivating coastal scenes created by the Zingaro Nature Reserve, which (you note) may have also been established with the tacit consent (gradimento) of the Mafia. In this incredible landscape, you are surrounded by 870 types of plants and in the airspace above rare birds of prey, wheel and dive. On your route around Sicily, you tell yourself you must visit the mythical settlement of Erice north of Trapani, certainly the most impressive in Sicily. Now you are faced with a dilemma—do you stay along the coastline and save a few miles of sailing, or do you visit the volcanic island of Pantelleria, whose charms even Sting and Madonna have succumbed to? The answer is clear. This island exerts a magnetic attraction—with its countless fjords and bays, rugged coastline, incredible diving, snorkelling, along with its many local farms to stock up your galley with first-class oil, capers, figs—the needle in your compass swings landward.

The lighthouse on the island of Pantelleria The lighthouse on the island of Pantelleria

The town Breakwater in Agrigento is another stop-off point. Here, early in the morning, you may set out to explore what might just be one of the most impressive places in all of Europe, the famous Valley of Temples. As you sail further along the coastline, you may treat the ladies on board to a rejuvenating mud spa on the beach near the white cliffs of Capo Bianco. Another town breakwater which would be a crime to miss, is at the ancient town of Syracuse on the island of Ortygia, which has been the heart of the town for 2 700 years. There, you can walk across the wonderfully lit Piazza del Duomo in the evening, admire the monumental Duomo itself, or freshen up on a hot day at Fonte Aretusa, one of the most famous springs in the Hellenic world where Virgil himself, sang The Odes. The backdrop to your cruise along the eastern coastline of Sicily will be that omnipresent natural phenomenon—the eerie volcano of Mount Etna which ancient mariners regarded as the highest point on Earth. You will often see its smouldering summit covered in snow, the volcano having last unleashed its power in 2001, when a lava flow in July and August endangered some of the local villages. Your cruise would hardly be complete if you failed to honour this elemental force with a visit.

Valle dei Templi—Valley of Temples, a UNESCO heritage site Valle dei Templi—Valley of Temples, a UNESCO heritage site

You are now invigorated with the volcanic energy that Sicily abounds in, and closing in on the Lipari Islands. There are seven of them, all are volcanic and incredibly magical. Lipari offers the most varied nature of them all. Vulcano, where Vulcan the god of fire had his heavenly forge, will make your trip more pleasant and refreshing with its muddy lakes and fumaroles, and Stromboli, with its spectacular eruptions four times every hour, will bewitch you completely when night falls. On Alicudi you will be surrounded by absolute tranquility and irresistible places to dive, and you will already be starting to make plans in your mind how to extend your cruise by another week. This is just one of the ways your marine adventures around Sicily and the Lipari Islands could turn out.

Sicily is a great location for summer sailing, you just need to plan your route carefully. You will find plenty of anchorages and harbours subject to a reasonable fee. A lot of the harbours are currently being transformed into modern marinas, something reflected in the increasing prices, which can be very steep during the high season. Outside the marinas, prices are usually reasonable except for places where the local anchorages have gained a concession and their financial demands are usually overinflated.

Along the northern coastline it is usually easy to negotiate a reasonable fee for a berth in Castellammare del Golfo. If you like haggling, you can negotiate a berth in Palermo for a truly bargain price. Although the surrounding areas are not amazingly picturesque, the city centre more than makes up for it. You can also find a mooring at a good price in Termini Imerese.

The night view of Castellammare del Golfo Marina The night view of Castellammare del Golfo Marina

Direct your cruise west or east to Sicily. If you are sailing to Sicily from Elba, Sardinia, or Corsica, you are advised to do so during the day, as the area around Trapani and the Egad Islands contains a lot of shallows. Yachts can travel from west to east almost as they please, but in the opposite direction, it is more advisable to sail along the northern coastline. If Sicily is a stop-off point for you on a crossing to Tunisia, you can sail, for example, from Marsala or Mazara del Vallo, make another small stop at the small island of Pantellería and then set course directly for the Gulf of Hammametský and one of the local marinas. From the south of Sicily, for example from Licata, it is no problem to get to the beautiful island of Malta. From Greek waters, yachtsmen mostly set sail for Syracuse and Catania. Just bear in mind that the weather up to 30 km from the coastline may not necessarily indicate the weather conditions further out to sea, at this distance from the sea breezes you might find yourself suddenly becalmed and looking at an extended holiday, after all.

The weather in Sicily in summer varies greatly according to the side of the island, so we’ll look at these areas separately and in more detail.

Northern shore

This side of Sicily is dominated by N–NW winds, which we can simply call the Mistral. This wind often picks up in the morning, strengthens to category 3–4 on the Beaufort scale (BFT) and abates at night. Sometimes it starts blowing from the SW and even NE, further on in the Straight of Messina. Strong northern winds also bring strong waves, especially at Capo San Vito. There is usually a weak, eastern current, but it is easily overwhelmed by the force of the prevailing winds.

Western shore

Generally, a NW wind dominates in this region, which does, however, sometimes turn to the west. Along the coast and near the Egadi Islands, you may often encounter currents of about 1 KN, often heading NE. North-westerly winds often cause rough seas, mainly when they blow weakly. These conditions are more unpleasant, rather than dangerous. Sailing in the local waters is very strange. In one spot, the sea will be rough, and a little further on, near land, it will be as smooth as glass.

Southern shore

In the south of Sicily, the wind is dominated by an ocean breeze in a south-westerly direction, which usually does not exceed 4 BFT. It often happens, though, that winds do not blow at all and calm dominates. Towards the west, winds are stronger and more frequent, heaving seas created by southern winds, although this is rare in summer.

Eastern shore

The standard wind here is a sea breeze, blowing from S–SE directions. It starts in the morning and abates after sunset. Its strength is usually 4–5 BFT and often blows all night without stopping. Often there are also north-easterly winds, which are usually accompanied by a raging sea.

Winter season

Throughout Sicily windstorms are mostly from the NW–W, but sometimes the Gregale wind from the NE also rises. In autumn and spring the Sirocco comes, gathering a respectable strength and bringing rain.

The warmest seas you’ll dive into from the deck near Palermo will be in August, when the average temperature of the water is 26.3°C.

Palermo

“Michael Corleone stood on the long wooden pier of the Palermo port and watched a large ocean liner depart for America…The pier was busy, dock workers in caps and baggy clothes were unloading goods from ships onto trucks.” That is how the famous novel, set in 1950's Sicily, by the Sicilian Mario Puzo, begins. You can still find that long pier in the harbour, but its days of bustling trade are now just a memory. The ancient name of the city, Panormos, literally means “Port-of-Everything”. Other than this cargo port, we are interested in the Barsaglieri Pier where we can start a boat trip around the island to the volcanic island of Lipari, or stay and explore the beautiful Palermo.

The Baroque Piazza Pretoria in Palermo The Baroque Piazza Pretoria in Palermo

Cala Harbour and Bersagliere Pier

Yachts should head to Bersagliere Pier. Land wherever possible, bows-to or stern-to. The outer end of the pier from the fuel station is managed by YC Italiano. You can anchor here after the pump closes from around 19:00, though you need to leave before they open again in the morning. From the bend in the pier to its end, it is occupied by Club Mediterraneo and Nixe Yachting. We recommend Club Salpancore for yachts up to 12.5 m in length. Protection from the weather is excellent and boats often spend the winter here. Most berths have electricity and WiFi. Gasoline needs to be pumped at the pier. The harbour area is ideal for purchasing supplies. Next to the train station there are several supermarkets and a large street market. In the area around Cala, you can also dine well at one of the excellent trattorias, pizzerias or restaurants.

Antica Focacceria San Francesco

Address: Via Alessandro Paternostro, 58, 90133 Palermo, Italy

We have a great tip for a fantastic and stylish bakery, just a short distance from the harbour. Marble tables, wooden cabinets from the turn of the last century, and cast iron ovens give this place unbelievable character. You can enjoy the local pani ca meusa here, or veal with cheese and salt, pea fritters, and an excellent cannoli.

Palermo has been ruled perhaps by every important nation of its time. From the Phoenicians who established Palermo, to the Romans who conquered the city in 254 BC, from Arab Saracens, who gave the city an exotic mysterious touch, to the Normans who graced the city with monumental architecture. The Norman monarch Frederik was especially intelligent, kind and capable, and he supported the arts and built many prominent monuments. He was succeeded by the Aragons and the Bourbons, until the city was liberated in 1860 by Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The Palermo city centre has so many stellar attractions that we recommend you reserve at least one full day and equip the ship's library with a comprehensive guide. In this article, we will outline the most important things no yachtsman or landlubber should miss. If your head out for a Bohemian evening, directly from the port of Cala in the direction of the sunset, you can’t go wrong.

The Corso Vittorio Emanuele Highway will take you to one of the most important buildings in the whole of Sicily, simply called the "Cathedral". It was built by the Normans in the 12th century—focus on the right nave, where the sarcophagi of the four rulers of the island are preserved. Nearby, you might then visit the Norman cathedral, Palazzo dei Normanni, which, perhaps surprisingly, was founded by the Arabs. The Normans extended it, and later rebuilt it several times. Since it is the seat of the Sicilian government and parliament, it is mostly only accessible outside.

Since every yachtsman should be fearless, a visit to the Convento dei Cappuccini catacombs cannot unsettle any crew. Up until 1881, this is where the upper classes of society were buried, often without coffins or simply hung upon a wall in their original clothing. Upon that wall you see the well-preserved body of two-year old Rosalia.

Relax in the beautiful botanical garden Orto Botanico, one of the most frequently visited in Europe. It is linked to the picturesque city park, Villa Giulia, which inspired Goethe in his day, and will touch the soul of many a yachtsman. If you have children on the crew, even in these times of flickering tablets and smart phones, they might be interested in the Palermo Toy Museum—the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette—the largest in Sicily. The traditional Sicilian puppet operas have a special magic all their own.

The fountain in the botanical garden of Palermo The fountain in the botanical garden of Palermo

Syracuse

Syracuse was the most powerful city in the known world for two centuries. The Carthaginians, Etruscans, and even the Athenians were unable to conquer it. According to the Greek historian Thucydides, the city was founded by the Corinthians under the instructions of the Oracle of Delphi. They were attracted by a number of fresh water springs, fertile surrounding countryside, and the easily defendable fort on the little island of Ortygia.

Fort on the island of Ortygia Fort on the island of Ortygia

Syracuse Harbour

You have three landing options in Syracuse: the city breakwater, Marina Yachting and Porto Marmoreo. 

The city breakwater is presently being rebuilt and it is hoped that berths will be available soon. The prevailing wind blows yachts towards the breakwater, so it is important to moor up far, enough away from the shore. The wind abates at night. Good shelter from northerly winds is provided here.

Marina Yachting is set between the breakwater for refuelling and the channel separating the mainland part of the city from the historical island of Ortygia. Anchor here according to the prevailing conditions. When southerly winds blow, it is advisable to moor up inside the marina or in Porto Marmoreo. With a westerly wind, it is safe to stay the night on the outer side of the breakwater. The marina can house 180 boats up to a length of 40 m. The facilities available include water, electricity, showers, toilets, laundry and WiFi.

At Porto Marmoreo, most berths by the promenade on the northern side of the old town belong to private clubs. Only a few spaces are usually set aside for visitors. But try the Lakkios pontoon in the NE corner of the harbour. You will find a perfect shelter from all directions. The downside is the occasional smell drifting in from the nearby sewer outlet, especially on hot summer days.

Marina di Siracusa is a relatively new project and was recently completed according to the available information. You will find the marina west of the old town and commercial docks.

Anchorages in the area around Syracuse

You will find the northwestern anchorage by the beach far enough away from the commercial docks. There is a depth here of 3–5 m with a muddy bottom where your anchor will safely hold. From here, it is not far by dinghy to the breakwater in the new town to purchase supplies. An alternative is to anchor south of the bay. There are also several pontoons in this stretch, suitable for mooring smaller craft. In both cases, keep an eye on your boat. Thefts have been reported here in the past.

And now, finally to the beauty of the city itself. You should devote your first visit to the ancient island of Ortygia. There are so many fascinating buildings over such a small area that you won’t feel any urgency to venture further. The city was founded in 734 BC and soon became the largest fortified city in all of ancient Greece with around 500 000 inhabitants. Its powerful navy defeated the Athenian navy and a boom began under the rulers Dionysius and Dionysius I. The famous Archimedes also designed his system of lenses and mirrors here, which he used to set fire to Roman ships during a military conflict with Rome. Despite strict orders to keep this genius alive, he was killed by a Roman soldier.

Apollo's Temple, dating back to the 6th century BC Apollo's Temple, dating back to the 6th century BC

The Ortygia of today is a wonderful spider's web of narrow lanes. Antico Mercato is the former city market dating back to the 19th century and a fish market can be found in the surrounding area. However, the greatest prize here is the Piazza del Duomo, especially in the evening and at night when it is beautifully lit. Here, the magnificent Temple of Athena rises before you, and today forms the basis of the cathedral. It was only saved from demolition because it was converted to a Christian house of worship in the 6th century. By the Ponte Nuovo bridge, which connects the island with the mainland, you can admire the oldest Doric shrine in Greece—the Temple of Apollo which dates back to 570 BC. We must also mention the Fonte Aretusa spring, a famous location in mythology. Today, you will find a romantic place here to stop and rest.

Cathedral on Piazza del Duomo Cathedral on Piazza del Duomo

Trapani

Trapani is a harbour town on the westernmost coastline of Sicily and the capital of the province of the same name. The town operates today as an important fishing harbour. The city centre is Baroque in character with a lot of churches and palaces. The cathedral and the Jesuit church of Chiesa del Collegio dei Gesuit are remarkable. The city is effectively a gateway to the nearby Egad Islands, where cruise ships sail. North of the city, you will find the Lido di San Giuliano, offering wonderful swimming on beautiful beaches in romantic bays.

A view of the harbour town of Trapani A view of the harbour town of Trapani

We understand that the west of Sicily is somewhat distant for many yachtsmen, but you certainly should point your yacht in this direction. The focal point and main harbour in this area, is the town of Trapani. The harbour is attractive in its own right, the dominant features being the Torre Colombaia tower and the old lighthouse which you will see from a distance. A turning point for the harbour came in October 2005, when it hosted a flotilla of teams from the America’s Cup, which competed in a regatta in the surrounding area. This event kick-started a major revitalisation of the harbour, mainly affecting the harbour on the breakwater. Navigating to Trapani Harbour is not difficult. If you are sailing in from the north, you will see Mount Guiliano in the distance, with a peak almost 756 m high and the mythical settlement of Erice at its summit. Erice is shrouded in myth and legend. The famous Italian author Carlo Levi compared it to Assisi, saying that Erice is the "Assisi of the South, full of churches, monasteries, silent streets, and an unusual collection of mythological memories". The cult of the Mother of Love and Fertility had been based here for centuries—Astarte for the Phoenicians, Aphrodite for the Greeks and Venus for the Romans. Her temple in Erice was venerated throughout the whole western world. It was here that the legendary Daedalus landed, and the poet Virgil immortalised the small town in the Aeneid. Last but not least, you will be bedazzled by the beautiful views of the encompassing sea, the Egad Islands and Trapani harbour, and lifted by the refreshing mountain breezes after a sweltering stay on dry land. You can reach the settlement by bus, which has a stop in the harbour to the north just past Trapani Boat Service, or by cable car.

The settlement of Erice near the town of Trapani The settlement of Erice near the town of Trapani

From the south, you will see the houses of the city peeping over the salt plains. Once you draw closer to the city, you will notice the red roof of the hospital, the quay, and Torre Colombaia as well as the old lighthouse. There is also a lot to see in Trapani itself. We could, for example, mention the pilgrimage site and the Gothic-Catalan Cathedral of Santuario dell‘ Annunziata dating back to the 13th century, which is home to many priceless works of art, or many other stunningly attractive churches, cathedrals and monasteries. North of the city, you will find the Lido di San Giuliano, offering wonderful swimming on beautiful beaches in the clear water of romantic bays.

Trapani Harbour

Near the harbour, you must be careful of the shallows which spread out about a mile from the mainland. You should sail in from the SW. Moorings in the NW corner near Lega Navale and also in the SE corner were free until recently. Vento di Maestrale and Columbus Yachting offer a limited number of berths between the yacht club and the coastguard. A few spaces are also located near Trapani Boat Service. However, you will be directed out of the fishing harbour, which is always full. The harbour offers reliable shelter from all sides, only ferries and hydrofoils occasionally cause the sea to swell. Water and electricity are available at most berths, and showers and toilets are available in the marinas. There are many options for buying supplies, especially in the eastern part of the city.

Trattoria del Porto

This superb trattoria is conveniently located right in the harbour, so you don’t have to wander around the city from your boat, hungrily looking for a nice place to have dinner. The restaurant offers attractive Arabic cuisine (such as traditional couscous) at reasonable prices.

Catania

The town of Catania is the capital of the Province of Catania and the second largest town in Sicily. Situated on the eastern coastline at the foot of Mt. Etna, it extends along the edge of the bay of the same name on the Sicilian coastline in the Ionian Sea. The city’s history dates back to the 8th century. The greatest period of prosperity for Catania was during Roman times. After this, the city’s development stagnated until the 15th century. In the year 1693, Catania was struck by a huge earthquake and volcanic activity from Mt. Etna. The town was subsequently rebuilt in the Baroque style, under the watchful eye of the architect, G.B. Vaccarini.

The symbol of Catania is the Baroque, Elephant's Fountain (U' Liotru, in the Catania dialect), which is literally surrounded by a number of monuments, theatres, museums, bars and shops. Every morning, markets open in the very centre of the city. Catania’s location makes it an ideal base for excursions around Sicily. The Fontanarossa International Airport is also located here. Interesting sites that are definitely worth visiting are Syracuse, Piazza Amerina, Etna, Agrigento, and the picturesque towns that will amaze you with their atmosphere.

 

The Elephant's Fountain at the front of the cathedral The Elephant's Fountain at the front of the cathedral

Messina

Messina is the third largest city in Sicily and also the capital city of the Province of Messina. The local scenery is mostly mountainous in character, with the exception of the area around the waterways. In the north, it is surrounded by the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the east by the Strait of Messina, and in the south east by the Ionian Sea.

Messina’s dominant feature is the cathedral in the Piazza Duomo and the pantheon, Cimitero Monumentale, decorated with Ionic columns. From here there is a nice view of the Strait of Messina. The beautiful Di Orion Fountain and the Santissima Church are also sure to enchant, as is the Annunziata dei Catalani with its three portals and statue of the Spaniard, Don Juan ď Austria, who defeated the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.  

The harbour near the town of Messina with the Golden Madonna The harbour near the town of Messina with the Golden Madonna

Milazzo

Milazzo is located in the Messina province on the northern coastline of Sicily. The shape of this town is very strange because it lies between the two bays of Milazzo in the east and Patti in the westMilazzo is today, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sicily, from where you can easily get to the Aeolian Islands.

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Milazzo is undoubtedly the site of the castle and the old cathedral. The castle extends for almost 1 km square, and is the city’s most important historical monument. The castle perches over the city of Milazzo and offers one of the most beautiful views in the region, where it is possible to see all the way to the Aeolian Islands.

Another interesting monument is the cathedral, dating from the year 1608. And just as equally remarkable is the important Port of Milazzo, which was built in the year 1843. Over the years, the port gained an increasingly dominant standing in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Today, it is the main port for embarking to the Aeolian Islands, but also provides good connections to Naples and the island of Ustica.

It goes without saying that the sea in this area is majestic and crystal clear. On the western coast you will find beautiful beaches that attract tourists from around the world. Meanwhile, in the city of Milazzo there are many small and inexpensive restaurants that offer a true sampling of Sicilian cuisine at very affordable prices.

Piscina di Venere nature reserve—Cape Milazzo Piscina di Venere nature reserve—Cape Milazzo

Lipari

Stromboli, Panarea, Filicudi, Alicudi, Salina, Lipari and Vulcano make up the group of seven Lipari islands, known colloquially as the Aeolian Islands. Together, they form a kind of star that is reminiscent of the inverted Mercedes Benz logo. They are located just 56 km from the Sicilian coast and, together with Etna, provide one of the main attractions for this area. All of these islands are the peaks of undersea volcanoes, and the most attention is given to the two craters that are still active—Stromboli, and Gran Cratere on Vulcano.

An eruption of the Stromboli volcano An eruption of the Stromboli volcano

Since time immemorial, the Aeolian Islands have been a target for pirates as well as colonisers, from the Carthaginians to the Spaniards. You can find many valuable exhibits from all periods at the Aeolian Museum on Lipari. And just why exactly are these islands called Aeolian, and why is the Aeolian museum here? Aeolus was the Greek god of the winds, who lived on the island in Aeolia. He welcomed Odysseus and his companions warmly, and gave him a closed bag full of all the unfavourable winds, except for the west wind, the mild Zephyros, which would carry Odysseus home to his island, on Aeolus’ orders. Just before reaching Ithaca, the home of Odysseus, his companions opened the bag under the assumption that it concealed a treasure, and the unfavourable winds pushed the whole group back to Aeolus. Aeolus, however, thought that Odysseus had lost favour with the gods and so did not welcome him. Some say that Aeolus still lives, on the small island of Ustica north of Palermo.

Rada di Lipari Marina Lunga

The commercial waterfront and a short pier are located just outside the town, to the north of Punta Scaliddi. Anchoring is at pontoons, where you will be directed. Anchoring by the ferry terminal and the commercial pier is prohibited. The harbour is prone to storms from all directions, especially the south, and frequent swells are caused by crossing ferries, so tie up sufficiently far away and stern-to from the pontoons. Here you will find easy access to water and electricity, good food stores, and an ATM.

Pignataro

North of the city is another harbour with water, electricity, and a relatively new mooring. It is only unpleasant under strong southerly winds, otherwise this is the safest anchorage in the Aeolian Islands. The windbreak is reserved for local boats and ferries.  You can walk to the city, catch a bus that stops at the base of the windbreak, or take a taxi. In addition, this place seems more authentic than the noble Lipari. A van with fresh fruit and baked goods also stops here.

The picturesque fishing village of Canneto lies to the north of Lipar. A little further further north along the road is the magical, white sandy beach of Spiaggia Bianca, which runs for several kilometres to the pebbled beach of Porticello. You can either dock in Lipari or Pignatar and walk down here, or anchor slightly north of Canneta, as anchoring off the village is prohibited. You can also drop anchor right in Porticello.

If you are interested in impressive, panoramic views, take a 3 km trip from Lipar to Quatroocchi, where you will see a magnificent view of Vulcano and the surrounding cliffs. Following the road you will reach Pianoconte, a renowned haven with some great pizzerias. Once you have replenished your strength, go on foot and explore the ancient Roman Thermal Spas in San Caloger overlooking the road behind the village. This road runs through the valley around the rugged rocks and is very picturesque.  

Interesting Anchorages

Directly to the south of Lipari, you can anchor in 10–20 m of water by the beach of Vinci. The location is open from the west and south. In Valle Muria, you must watch out for the reef at the southern end of the bay. At the northern part you will land in a depth 5–10 m. At the west of the island is Cala del Fico with a depth of 10–15 m and a dangerous reef in the middle. On the NW tip of the island is Punta Castagna with a romantic beach and a 6–10 m depth. It goes without saying that this place is unsuitable during northerly winds.

Vulcano

The southernmost promontory of the archipelago, lying closest to the Sicilian coastline is Vulcano, the third largest island in the archipelago. The rocky coastline and massive volcanic cone are the first things that most travellers see when they arrive. The ubiquitous volcanic gasses leave nobody in any doubt that this volcano is still active. The Greeks knew this island as "Hiera Hephaistou", or the Temple of Hephaestus, the Romans later naming it Vulcania after the Roman counterpart of Hephaestus—Vulcan. This is also where the name for volcano is derived from in most western languages.

A view of the island of Vulcano A view of the island of Vulcano

The imagined gateway to the island and in fact the whole archipelago, is Porto di Levante Harbour on the northern coastline. South of the town lies Gran Cratere, the Large Crater, a 391 m high cone of an active volcano emitting a cloud of sulphurous gas. The central part of the island is the Vulcano Piano upland plateau, lined with a ring of high rocks. The highest of them is the 500 m Monte Aria, the highest peak on the island.

Under the steep slopes of the southern coastline lies the former fishing village of Gelso. North of Porto di Levante, the 123 m high round peninsula of Vulcanello extends out in the direction of the other islands. Most of the indigenous and tourist life is concentrated in the small town of Porto di Levante, whose dominant feature is two bizarre, multicoloured rocks. The two largest beaches on the island are found here, as well as shops, pizzerias, restaurants, bike and motorcycle rental points—that is, everything that a good holiday needs. It is also possible to take boat trips from here around the island, taking in a visit to the Horse Cave (Grotta del Cavallo) and swimming directly from a boat on otherwise inaccessible beaches.

In the immediate vicinity of Porto di Levante is a major attraction—a natural, constantly bubbling sulphurous lake which has extremely beneficial effects for health. Volcanic gasses also bubble up from the bottom of the sea on the adjacent beaches and transform bathing into an unforgettable experience.

Porto di Levante Harbour

There are 100 berths here with most yachts anchoring at pontoons in Baia Levante south of the ferry breakwater, where there is also WiFi, showers and toilets. You will find an ATM, supermarket, cafés and restaurants in the surrounding area. North of the harbour is Marina di Vulcanello with moorings for visitors.

Porto di Levante is the ideal starting point for a hike to the main crater of the volcano Gran Cratere, which last erupted in 1890. The trip takes about 2 hours. A shorter route leads north to the lower Vulcanello craters, which emerged from the sea in 183 BC. An even shorter trip leads from the harbour, north along the mainland isthmus, where a there is a fantastic beach with rare black sand. On you way, you will also pass muddy lakes and hot springs that bubble into the sea, warming it up. If you want to swim in the lakes, you would be advised to take off your jewellery as it may be affected by corrosion, and also you can rely on not being able to get rid of the pungent smell from your body for a few days. Other than that, you will be very healthy.

Porto di Ponente Anchorage

This impressive and very well sheltered anchorage is located directly on the opposite side of the island to Porto di Levante. You anchor your boat right under the cone of the volcano, which with its smoke will remind you from time to time that it is still active. Anchor here at a depth of 5–10 m in coarse sand, the anchor will hold well with a little patience. To the south of the bay are buoys, a supermarket on the shore, a few bars, a restaurant, and stalls selling fruit and vegetables. The bay only opens onto westerly winds.

Gelso Bay

You anchor here by the beach and the small village of Gelso at a depth of 3–10 m in coarse sand. Depth increases sharply, so you must be patient. There is a good fish restaurant on the shore. There is also a short breakwater here with a depth of 5–6 m. Northeast of Gelso, is Cannitello Bay with a beach bar.

Restaurants on the island

Restaurants on the island are expensive, very expensive, so you need to be choosy. You can get a good meal at a reasonable price in Porto di Levante in Da Maurizio, where they have a nice shady garden, good food, and a reasonably priced tourist menu. Not far from the mud spas, you will find Il Palmento selling cheap pizza. Anyone with a larger budget and who likes an impressive atmosphere will be well catered for in Porto di Ponente. The Baia di Ponente restaurant serves superb meals on a terrace elegantly lit by candlelight.

Stromboli

The island of Stromboli, made up of the regular cone of the volcano of the same name, is without a doubt the most active volcano in Europe and ranks among the global volcanic elite. It is one of the few volcanoes that erupts regularly at intervals, every 10–20 minutes. This being over the whole period of several thousands of years of human presence on the islands. The highest point of the island is Vancori Hill (924 m above sea level). The volcanic activity does not, however, take place on this peak, but almost 200 m lower in the craters on the northwestern hillside above Sciara del Fuoco slope.

Stromboli Stromboli

The island has been known as a natural lighthouse since ancient times, marking the northeastern edge of the archipelago. It was also during the times of the ancient Greeks that the island was named after its conical shape (strombos). The island has never been the site of any significant settlement. Partly because there is no significant area of flatland suitable for building on the island, and the regular volcanic eruptions certainly don't inspire confidence either. And a certain role was also played by the supernatural fear of the presence of unknown forces. The small villages found here today are situated on the coastline, Stromboli to the northeast of the island and the settlement of Ginostra to the southwest.

The traditional source of income for the locals was fishing, supplemented by grape cultivation (in particular, the renowned Malvasia variety) and certain other crops. Today however, only a few of the locals fish. More and more people make a living by offering their services to tourists. The small town of Stromboli preserves its original character despite this—its narrow lanes are inaccessible by car and the character of the whitewashed little houses has not been disturbed by any modern development .

Salina

Salina lies about 4 km northwest of the island of Lipari. The island has the characteristic silhouette of two cones of the extinct volcanoes, Monte di Porri (860 m) and Monte Fosa delle Felci (962 m) which are separated by the Valdi Chiesa valley. This is why the island was known as Didyme (the twins) in ancient times. This is the second largest island in the archipelago and also the only that does not come administratively under Lipari, made up instead of three, self-governing parishes. The island is very fertile, owing to the mineral-rich volcanic ash and the availability of plentiful water sources. A wealth of wild vegetation grows here, capers, grapes and olives, and other crops also grow well here.

Although there is no ring road on the island, S. Marina Salina on the eastern coastline, Malfa to the north, Rinella to the south Pollara on the west coast (all of the little villages) can be reached by road. With a number of sloping and climbing stretches, the island is attractive for physically fit cyclists, while others can use the reliable bus network.

Santa Marina Salina Harbour

The main harbour of the island can be found in the middle of the eastern coastline. There is enough space for 130 boats at a depth of 1–6 m. Yachts are directed to the southern dock, those over 10 m in length anchoring from the inner side of the breakwater. Smaller yachts anchor at the western side of the dock, while the really large ones may anchor lengthwise. Both docks offer very good shelter from wind and waves, the southern one being somewhat safer from all directions other than from the south. The south breakwater offers electricity, water, WiFi, showers and toilets. You can refuel in the northern harbour.

Panarea

Panarea is part of the small archipelago lying northeast of the island of Lipari. It was most likely created by a volcanic eruption in the year 126 BC. With its surrounding islands, it once was a single large island. In earlier times, Panarea was known as Euonymos. There are numerous accompanying volcanic phenomena in the island's fumaroles.

Three picturesque villages are on the coast of the island, Ditella, San Pietro and Dranto. The foundations of 23 Bronze Age houses from the 14th century BC, were discovered on its south peak, on the jagged cape of Punta Milazzes in 1948. Approximately 4 km northeast of Panarei, the small rocky island of Basiluzzo rises, where capers are grown. Other members of the island group are Dattilo and Lisca Bianca and several other rocks. Exceptionally clear waters and varied ocean fauna are attractive for dives.

San Pietro Harbour

Anchor north of the breakwater of the capital San Pietro at a depth of 2–12 m. The bottom is sandy and the anchor will hold well. The dock is unfortunately occupied mostly by ferries and fishing boats, most of the time.

In San Pietro, you can also admire the magnificent villas that the rich and beautiful of the region have built here. A 30 minute walk south of the harbour will take you to a very nice beach, the only sandy beach on the island. At the southern tip of the island by Punta Milazzese, is a unique settlement of 23 dwellings dating from the Bronze Age which was discovered in 1948. The village was probably inhabited since the 14th century BC, and carries the hallmarks of Minoan culture. The artefacts that were discovered here, are on dispay in the museum in Lipari. If you sail to the island in colder weather, make sure not to miss the thermal springs right in San Pietro. At the north of the island near Calcar, a mysterious mist rises from the sea and the beach.  A merchant ship from around 400 BC was recently discovered near the island. Underwater work is taking place, but is very complicated, mainly because of the volcanic nature of the island. Some unique and original artefacts have already been raised, however, such as black-glazed ceramics. The site is guarded by Carabinieri and recreational craft are prohibited from approaching.   

Alicudi

Alicudi is the westernmost island of the entire group of islands. The island is shaped like a small cone, with the highest peak bearing the romantic name Filo dell' Arpa (String of the Harp), reaching 675 m. The island was formerly known as Ericusa, due to the heather growing on its slopes. While the western slope is very steep and barren, the eastern slope is occupied by the residential houses of the locals, who make their living from olive and caper production and fishing. Vases and other items from local archaeological finds dating back to the 4th century BC are proof of the ancient settlement of the island. Recommended trip ideas include climbing the Filo dell Arpa peak and a trip to the rocky banks of Scoglio della Gallera on the western side.

Filicudi

The island of Filicudi is made up of three extinct craters, situated about 20 km west of Salina. It looks like a large cone, its highest peak being Fossa Felci (774 m above sea level). People live here in the two small harbour villages of Filicudi Porto and Pecorini A Mare, as well as in Valle Chiesa around the Church of St Stefano. Apart from fishing, the locals also farm on terraced fields. The rugged coastline is interesting with bizarre cliffs and small caves.

Rich finds and excavations in Capo Graziano on the southeastern tip of the island prove that the island was already inhabited during the Bronze Age. Apart from climbing Fossa Felci, we recommend sailing around the whole island, and combining this with a tour of the Grotta del Bue Marino cave to the west of the island. The Scoglio della Fortuna rock is remarkable, as is the prehistoric village of Capo Graziano.

Porto Filicudi

To the east of the island is a small breakwater, but its use is forbidden for recreational yachts. In good weather, anchor in the bay and leave sufficient space around the breakwater for ferries. You must be observant at the old breakwater which leads southeast from the causeway and parallel with the beach as it is not very visible. The bottom is stony and grassy and your anchor will not hold well everywhere. There are 20 buoys in the bay. There is a restaurant and small shop on the shore.

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