So you might be thinking… “Wait, I thought stromboli was a food.” Well, it is, but it’s also an island off of the coast of Sicily. Kind of like Turkey, you know?
Anyway, Jordan had an unexpected three-day weekend, so instead of just hanging around the house, we decided to check out the Aeolian Islands. The Aeolian Islands: Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi and Alicudi, each have their own unique features. When deciding where to go, we read about each island and looked up their main “attractions” online and in a Sicily travel guide we own. When we learned that you could hike up to the top of a volcano AND see it explode, we decided Stromboli would be our first stop.
As a side note, I can’t overstate the utility of buying actual travel guide BOOKS and not just researching what to do online. They are soooo helpful.
To get to Stromboli, we drive north to Milazzo. Milazzo is located in the north-eastern “corner” of Sicily. It took us about 1.5 hours – granted we left home around 5AM, so there was virtually no traffic. Once we arrived, we parked at Garage Delle Isole and they transported us to the port. We arrived at the port around 30 minutes before our hydrofoil. I was surprised at how long the line was for tickets! We purchased our tickets online the day before, so we already had spots reserved. However, we still had to wait in line to pick up a physical ticket. Silly, I know.
Once we picked up our tickets, we boarded the hydrofoil and were off to Stromboli. The hydrofoil stopped at a few of the islands before arriving in Stromboli and it was fun to see how vastly different each island looked.
Stepping off the hydrofoil, the beauty of the black sand beaches and colorful fisherman boats were remarkable. The sheer size of the volcano also hit me in the face and I immediately wondered if perhaps I wasn’t quite ready for this!
From the port, we walked to our accommodations for the night, La Nassa. I was glad we actually had a room reserved, as they didn’t require a deposit, and because of this, I was skeptical. They also didn’t require a credit card on file or ANY money up front. It was a cash payment at the end, which is virtually unheard of (at least in places I’ve stayed). The staff were extremely friendly and accommodating and the room was very cute and quaint.
After dropping our stuff, we explored the town a bit before we went to check in with the tour company.
We also stopped for lunch at Bar Ristorante Pizzeria da Luciano Stromboli. It was nothing short of amazing.
We took a stroll along a black sand beach.
We booked (also no deposit) our night hike with MagmaTrek. The guides at MagmaTrek let us know that, because of the weather, it wasn’t guaranteed that we would be able to see any explosions that night. Since we traveled all that way, we decided to do it anyway. And boy, it was a hike!
We started from the very bottom of the volcano.
The hike took a total of about 7 hours from start to finish. First we went through a lot of vegetation and then we did what I like to call, the “rock climb,” where the path turned rocky.
If you look very closely at the top of this photo, you can see the TINY people at the top.
Halfway though our hike, it began to get dark, and I was DYING, so I didn’t take as many photos. The hike up was super hot. I was sweating like no other and I know Jordan was too. As soon as we make it to the top, it was suddenly freezing cold, mainly because the sun was gone and it was windy. So, we all changed into dry shirts and put on our coats. Unfortunately, the layers were not enough for me and standing on the crater ledge for an hour was a little painful.. in more than one way! Our guide also passed out masks, as the air was not very safe to breathe. We had to wear them until we made it back to the bottom.
Once we made it to the edge of the crater, our guide told us to pray we would see something (because it was soooooo foggy!). We got really lucky, because the clouds cleared and we were able to see all of the explosions clearly by the end!
Guys, I SAW A VOLCANO EXPLODE!!!!!!!!!!!
The way back down was drastically different than the way up. After walking down a rather rocky path for awhile, our guide stopped us and let us know that we were about to walk though sand… and that we couldn’t stop because avalanches were possible in this area!! The sand was over the ankle deep and the slope was steep!! Eventually we made it back down to the vegetation area and the path leveled off again. From there, we continued for what felt like forever until were back at Magmatrek.
After the hike was over, I thanked my lucky stars because, holy hell that was H-A-R-D! We grabbed a pizza and a beer and settled in for the night before we retuned back home tomorrow.
Overall, the experience itself was a 10/10. I’d say it was a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ because I probably could not be talked into making that hike again!! A two to three mile run a few times a week is not enough for scaling Stomboli. However, I am ready to visit the island again. It was relaxing, low key, and gorgeous.
I miss your solitude already, Stromboli.