The Aeolian islands: Vulcano

Within a mere 5-6 days of travel the Aeolian islands had generated so many emotions in us. So many breathtaking island views, amazing sights and .. volcano experience of course!

And to wrap this awesome trip up, departing from Stromboli we paid a visit to the very island that made up the word ‘volcano’ – the island of Vulcano. Vulcan was the god of fire in Roman mythology and because of its active volcanoes, the island got its name as the island of god Vulcan. The word volcano derives from this island.

The island, along with Stromboli, boasts of the only active volcanoes in the Aeolian archipelago. Moreover, it has the second most dangerous volcano in Italy after Vesuvio – Fossa. In case of volcanic activity, 2 kms around Fossa crater will be affected, and the village of Porto, reaching 10,000 inhabitants in the summer, lies within this area.

The nearby Porto village, as seen from the crater

You cannot confuse this island – the smell from it reaches deep into the water 🙂 Just across the place we anchored we saw the hot sulphur mud baths (Laghetto di Fanghi, or mud lake) where the aroma was coming from.

Hardly managing to breathe in the smell, we hurried to dip into the lake and suppressing the disgust covered ourselves with the yellowish substance all over. The baths are famous since Roman times, and are said to cure rheumatism, artrosis and skin diseases. That is why, even on the early season and almost before closing time they were full of people, standing for 30 minutes (the max recommended time to stay, suppose because of the high temperature) and getting out for a wash.

Stepping into the mud baths

I don’t know if we cured something ourselves, but you cannot imagine how soft your skin becomes after this spa procedure, unbelievable! It was worth the smell and the kind of unpleasant appearance of the mud, mixed with some human elements 🙂

Right next to the hot mud bath you can also enjoy a spa for your feet. A few meters into the sea the bottom becomes very hot and there are fumaroles coming out. The whole sea is bubbling! You should be careful not to step on a fumarole though – you can get really burned! The only unpleasant thing were the thousands of pink jellyfish everywhere except around the fumaroles – so you should first make your way through them.

If you want to visit Vulcano and the villages on it you better rent a scooter or golf car. The road is pretty exposed to the sun and walking it might be somewhat unpleasant. Me and my friend decided to climb up Fossa instead of checking the villages. It’s a fairly short walk – 40-50 minutes, though with good denivelation. There’s hardly any sign of shade though (but many benches on the way), so considering the sunny weather it’s recommended you take something to cover up. We almost got sun burnt within the short walk!

The sights at the top are worth the climb though. Not only do you see the caldera with fumaroles and sulphur all around, along with the nice smell of course, but you can see the whole island as well as most of the archipelago! Very much worth a visit!

Magnificent view from the caldera of la Fossa volcano

Fossa crater viewed from the top

Down in the port you can enjoy the peaceful cafes offering amazing Italian coffee, sweets (the Sicilian Cannoli are of course everywhere), home-made ice-cream and – did I mention it, Italian coffee 🙂

Italian coffee, cannoli and misc other local sweets

The island seems also good for kayaking – along the shores next to the port there are amazing sea rocks and caves, I’d love to see them more closely. Just beware the frequent ferries 🙂

Pretty good ending of our week at the Aeolian! I truly enjoyed the diversity of sights and experiences we had, and the amazingly good weather for the end of April. I was relieved we didn’t experience the Aeolian triangle, wherever it was, nor major sailing challenges. I only regret not being able to see Stromboli volcano lava more closely but – will do, next time 🙂

This ends my Aeolian series, hope you enjoyed it and I managed to get you inspired to visit the archipelago! Next comes – San Francisco, with my biking and surfing escapes there!

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