Two new islands

Yesterday morning after a leisurely breakfast on the terrace of our hotel it was time to pack up and enjoy a couple of hours wandering around Stromboli town before our ferry was due to leave. I dipped my toes in the sea and added black sand to the black dust already coating everything. We watched a cat trying and failing to catch a gecko, had coffee and pottered around the streets. Beyond the port was a path behind the beach which allowed some photography of the sand, the coast and some seedheads amongst the foliage.
Stromboli seedheads 1 (1 of 1)

Back at the port I was struck by the colour and abstract shapes at the edge of the dock which might develop into a painting when I get back. The hydrofoil journey was uneventful and we were soon at Lipari, our next stop. It was quite strange to be back in a busier and wealthier town. We dragged our cases along the main street to the hotel and we were glad to see had a pool as it was very hot. After checking in, it was time to explore the town. The Cattedrale di San Bartelomeo was not open but the museums were. We bought a ticket and went into the nearest which covered Greek and Roman history. We got a bit of a telling off from the staff for not going to the building that covered the neolithic period first and they were very keen that we followed the correct chronological order of rooms rather than dipping into what we fancied. I have never seen so many amphorae.
Lipari amphorae in museum (1 of 1)

Nearby was an exhibition of contemporary art situated in a former church which provided a contrast. There was supposed to be a visit to the site of some Roman baths at San Calogero and the obsidian mines but this was off as the Roman baths are closed for some reason but at least it gave us some wandering time. This morning we took a short ferry ride to Vulcano and as we did not leave until 9am it was getting hot with 32 degrees forecast. As we approached the path to the crater one woman coming down commented that we should have been here four hours earlier. It would certainly have been my preference to have come to the island the previous evening and started to climb much earlier in the morning to avoid the heat. We slowly got up to the first ridge whoch gives a good view of the crater. The sulphurous gas was stinging my eyes and our guide proposed to continue to the highest point and walk past the place where the gas was being emitted.
gas on vulcano for blog (1 of 1)

We decided to go back down the route we had ascended and met up with the rest of the group for lunch in one of the bars down in the town. No-one was keen to have a mud bath, even the smell as we walked past made us walk more quickly. We spent an hour on the black sand beach, some people swam but I like the sea as warm as the Indian Ocean before I take a dip. All too soon it was time to head back to the ferry and I pondered that at least this somewhat whistlestop tour is useful to identify places to return to and spend more time in.

Travelling to the volcano

On Saturday we left Gatwick a few minutes late and as I always like a window seat, saw the white cliffs of southern England disappear and the blue of the English channel in sunlight provide a complementary colour to the orange on the wings of the Easyjet plane. I passed the time on the flight reading the Saturday papers and trying to resurrect my cryptic crossword skills. We passed over the snowy peaks of the Alps and then down the east coast of Italy. The Aeolian Islands appeared, some quite obviously extinct volcanoes and then we were in the cloud with some turbulence before landing at Catania. It was 26 degrees but once our group had gathered and we had met our tour guide, Elena and the bus driver, Giuseppe, we set off on the hour long drive to our hotel which sits at 1000m on Mount Etna’s flank. We got good views of Etna (Europe’s highest volcano) and the sun going down from the bus but could not stop for photographs. The mountain weather forecast has changed a little from dry all day tomorrow to rain in the afternoon but aim to reach the summit so there is and early start tomorrow. Etna last erupted in May of this year. Settling into the hotel, meeting all the group and sampling the local cuisine and wine was the priority for the evening.

Hotel ai Vecchi Crateri Sant'Alfio (1 of 1)