Aeolian Islands Hiking (Italy)

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The view of Monte Fossa delle Felci as seen from near the summit of Monte dei Porri.

Trip overview: The Aeolian Islands are a volcanic archipelago in Italy just north of Sicily. The islands are a UNESCO Heritage site and are a popular tourist destination due to their unique geography and beauty. We visited the island of Salina during an eight day trip to Sicily. During our visit to Salina, we hiked to the summit of Monte dei Porri. The hike is roughly 4 miles round trip from the village of Valdichiesa or 8 miles round trip from Malfa. The trail climbs ~1,700 feet from Valdichiesa (2,500 feet from Malfa) and reaches a peak elevation of ~2,800 feet. Highlights include greats views of the Monte Fossa delle Felci volcano, sweeping views of the Salina island landscape, and views of several other Aeolian Islands in the distance. We completed this hike in September of 2017. We also describe several other popular hikes on different islands in the Aeolian archipelago.

 

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Map of the various Aeolian Islands (Salina, Lipari, Vulcano, Alicudi, Filicudi, Panarea, Basiluzzo, and Stromboli). (credit: NormanEinstein)

In this report, I will both describe the hike we completed on Salina as well as describe various other hikes within the Aeolian Islands. My hope is that this post will be instructive for anyone looking for hikes on any of the popular island!

 

Links to skip to various islands:

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General Information:

Permits: The only hike that requires any sort of permit or guide is the hike to the top of Stromboli. Since 2005 guides have been required to hike the all the way to the top of the volcanic crater here. Without a guide, you will be stopped ~400 meters from the top. All other hikes described in this post are free and do not require any guide or permit.

Getting to the Aeolian Islands: It is most common to reach the Aeolian Islands via a ferry or hydrofoil. You can reach the islands from the Milazzo, Messina, or Palermo ports in Sicily or from Naples or Reggio Calabria on mainland Italy. The boat schedules vary depending on the time of year, so be sure to check what routes are available at the time of year you plan to visit. Hydrofoil tickets typically cost between 20-50 Euro one-way depending on the exact route and time of year. The main hydrofoil operator is Liberty Lines and they allow you to book tickets online. Some ferry operators including NGI and Siremar are options. The hydrofoil is fastest and is typically the recommended method unless you need to bring a vehicle. If you have a lot of money to burn, you can also arrange a helicopter to transfer you to the Aeolian Islands…

To get to Sicily, most travelers fly into either the Palermo or Catania airports. From the airports, you can then take a regional train to whichever port you plan to leave from.

Supplies: Many of the trails listed here do not have water along the way, so a 2.5 liter camelback is good to bring along. Some trails are also very exposed to the sun, so sunscreen and a  long sleeve shirt is highly advised. Beyond that, the equipment you need will depend on which specific hike you do. For hiking to the top of Stromboli, you likely want trekking poles and real hiking shoes. You also need a flashlight and helmet for the Stromboli hike, but these are likely provided by your guide or can be rented before your hike. For most of the other hikes, you likely can get away with just running or walking shoes. Lastly, the views along the hikes are spectacular, so be sure to bring your camera!

Difficulty: Most of the trails on the Aeolian Islands are of moderate length and are not too difficult. However, the exposed trails can be very hot during the summer, so you must prepare accordingly (bring water and sun protection). The hikes are all done as day hikes and no camping along the way is required. Some of the hikes do gain significant elevation though, so a good baseline level of fitness makes the experience more enjoyable!

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Island of Salina

Salina is a very green island with lots of vegetation. The island has two twin volcanoes that both are great for hiking. To get to the various trailheads, you can either walk, take the bus, or rent a scooter. For both hikes listed here, we will list stats assuming the trailhead is in the town of Valdichiesa.

Hike to the summit of Monte dei Porri – 3.2 miles round trip; +/- 1,933 feet

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Map of Salina showing the hiking trail from Valdichiesa to the summit of Monte dei Porri.
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Approximate elevation profile of the hike from Valdichiesa to the summit of Monte dei Porri and back.

There are actually two trail leading to the summit of Monte dei Porri. The trail described in this report goes from Valdichiesa to the summit. On the other side of the volcano, there is another trail leading from the Belvedere Panoramico to the summit. Thus, the hike can be completed by starting/ending at the same trailhead or you could start in Valdichiesa and end near the beach in Pollara.

In Valdichiesa, you start by walking 900 meters from the main church to the trail. The route is not really marked, but there are not too many roads in the town so it is easily found if you briefly study a map beforehand.

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The route for the Valdichiesa Church to the trailhead for the Monte dei Porri hike.

Eventually you will reach a sign marking the entrance to the preserve area and you will see the trail. The trail then begins to steeply climb up to the summit. This section of the trail is very exposed to the sun, so be prepared with water if you are hiking in the afternoon. The trail is fairly slippery and rocky in sections as well. As you climb up the trail, you will be treated to great views of Valdichiesa and Monte Fossa delle Felci to the east. You also have great views of Malfa and Rinella. As you get closer to the summit, you can see other Aeolian Islands in the distance including Lipari, Vulcano, Panarae, and Ginostra. Eventually you reach the summit and can take a quick break from climbing. If you continue along on the trail, you eventually reach some nice viewpoints looking west  down at Pollara. It is also possible to see two more islands, Filicudi and Alicudi, from the summit.

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Looking at Monte dei Porri from Valdichiesa.
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Looking back at the Valdichiesa Church after walking a few 100 meters towards the trailhead.
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The walk to the trailhead meanders through some back alleys and through vineyards.
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Eventually you reach some signs confirming that you are going the right way.
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The trail then continues a bit more through the vineyard (pictured: Nike women’s breathe top)
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Looking down towards Valdichiesa.
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Once you reach this sign, you can easily follow the trail to the summit.
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The trail is mostly volcanic rock, so it can be slippery and dusty in sections.
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The view looking southeast towards the town of Rinella. The island of Lipari is in the background.
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The view looking northeast. You can see part of Monte Fossa delle Fecci and the island of Panarea.
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A view from higher up showing both Lipari and Vulcano.
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After you reach the summit, continue north to get a view of Malfa and the islands of Panarea and Ginostra.
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As you continue on the trail, you eventually will see Filicudi to the west as well as the town of Pollara.
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Looking down at Pollara.
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Trail sign near the summit.
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Panaromic shot showing Monte Fossa delle Felci and four other Aeolian Islands in the distance.
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As you head back down to Valdichiesa, you are treated to great views of Rinella.
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Another view of Panarea and Ginostra
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Hiking down and taking in the view of Monte Fossa delle Felci (pictured: Lululemon run speed shorts)

 

Hike to the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci – 5.2 miles round trip; +/- 2,220 feet

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Map of Salina showing the trail that leads from Valdichiesa to the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci.
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Approximate elevation profile of the round trip hike from Valdichiesa to the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci.

The primary route to the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci begins just behind the main church in Valdichiesa (Santuario della Madonna del Terzito). You walk approximately 5 minutes behind the church and soon will reach a series of switchbacks that lead up to the summit. From there, the hike steeply climbs 2,000 feet over the course of 2 miles. There is also a dirt road that leads much of the way up the mountain, but the road is longer than the trail. In the beginning of the hike the trail leads through trees and there is a fair amount of cover from the sun. In the middle the trail goes in and out of the trees. At the summit the trail leaves the most of the trees behind and you will be able to see great views of the surrounding area. Overall, this trail has much more cover from the sun when compared to the hike up Monte dei Porri.

When you reach the summit you are treated to some amazing views of Salina, Monte dei Porri, and the surrounding Aeolian Islands. From the summit you can either return back to Valdichiesa or could hike down to Santa Marina

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The route from the Valdichiesa Church to the trailhead for the Monte Fossa delle Felci hike.
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You will begin by hiking along a dirt road that leads behind the main church in Vanldichiesa. (credit: Associazione BIOS)
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Shortly you reach a junction where you want to turn to the left (credit: Associazione BIOS)
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Looking back towards the church with Monte dei Porri in the background (credit: Associazione BIOS)
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Soon you will reach a junction between the dirt road and the trail. The trail veers off to the right here where you see the wooden railing. Leave the road behind and begin hiking on the trial (credit: Associazione BIOS)
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The trail then climbs steeply along many switchbacks. The trail moves in and out of the trees for about a half mile (credit: Jurgen Kirberg)
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At around the 0.6 mile mark, the trail crosses the dirt road. You should look for the trail on the other side of the road (hand on the left) and continue hiking the trail. (credit: Associazione BIOS)
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After climbing for another 1.5 miles, the trail begins to flatten out as you hike through the final section of trees before reaching the summit (credit: Associazione BIOS)
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You reach the summit at about the 2.5 mile mark. There is a large flat area, a bench, and a cross at the summit.  You can then explore the area around the summit to find the best views.   It is possible to hike around the edge of the volcanic cone. (credit: Associazione BIOS)
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Monte dei Porri and the town of Valdichiesa as viewed from Monte Fossa delle Felci on the island of Salina (credit: Ghost-in-the-shell)
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The town of Lingua and the islands Lipari and Vulcano as views from the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci (credit: Ghost-in-the-shell)
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View of Monte dei Porri, the town of Rinella, and the island of Filicudi as seen from the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci (credit: Ghost-in-the-shell)
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View of Monte dei Porri, the island of Filicudi, and the island of Alicudi as seen from the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci (credit: Ghost-in-the-shell)

Here is the route to the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci from Santa Marina Salina.  The trail is roughly 5.5 miles round trip with +/- 2,950 feet of elevation change.

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Hiking route from Santa Marina Salina to the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci.

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Island of Stromboli

The island of Stromboli is named after the active volcano that makes up the island. As such, the most popular hike on the island goes up to the top of the Stromboli volcano. A guide is required to reach the summit and see the lava eruptions up close. Typical costs to join a non-private guided group are in the range of EUR 30-50. Taking a private tour will cost much more. The hike is usually started in the late afternoon so that you reach the summit when the sun is setting. This allows the hikers to get nice pictures of the lava eruptions at dusk.

For hiking to the top of Stromboli, you will want trekking poles and real hiking shoes. A headlamp is also needed when you descend the trail at night, but this can likely be rented from your guide company. You also will want to bring along a warm and light down jacket  and a wind jacket because you can get cold sitting at the summit while you wait for an eruption. A bandana or scarf is another nice addition because it can be used to shield your nose and mouth from dust.

Most excursions leave from near Stromboli village on the Northeast side of the island. This is the route I will describe here. Other excursions are available that let you start from the Southwest side of the island in Ginostra and end in Stromboli village.

Hike to the summit of Stromboli (with a guide) – 5.2 miles; +/- 2,960 feet

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Map of Stromboli showing the hiking route taken by many guide services that hike to the summit of the volcano.
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Approximate elevation profile of the round trip hike to the summit of Stromboli.
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Diagram showing the hiking routes on Stromboli. The hike described here follows the green path that goes up from Nel Cannestra to Liscione to Pizzo Sopra La Fossa to Portella Delle Croci and then back down to Rina Grande, Le Schicciole, Forgia Vecchia, and the Universita Di Firenze  (counter clockwise) (credit: Veronique Mergaux)

This trek follows the paths shown above in the counter-clockwise direction. You do not go down the same trail you hiked up because that trail going down is sandier and easier on the joints when going down. It is also better to not have hikers going both up and down on the same trail so that there are no right of way issues. Exactly where you start the hike will depend on your tour guide.

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At about the 0.5 mile mark, the hike transitions from roads in Stromboli Village to a trail. This trail leads through brush for about 1.2 miles (pictured: Red Osprey Talon 33 Backpack) (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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At the 1.7 mile mark, the trail makes a turn to the left and follows a dusty ridge (pictured: North Face women’s Venture 2 Jacket) (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Hiking along the dusty and ash covered ridge (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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At the 2 mile mark, the trail turns to the right and begins a steep climb up rocky and dusty switchbacks (pictured: Cascade mountain tech trekking poles) (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Ascending up the switchbacks that lead to the top of Stromboli. (pictured: Reflective face mask and head scarf) (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Ascending up the switchbacks that lead to the top of Stromboli. (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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View from Stromboli as the sun begins to set (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Taking a break at the 2.6 mile mark after finishing the large climb (pictured: Men’s knee high gaiters) (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Sunset from Stromboli with a smoke plume coming off the volcano (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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After a short break, the climb continued for another 0.3 miles until the Stromboli summit was reached. (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Near the summit, there is likely to be a crowd of hikers waiting for eruptions (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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A small eruption at the summit of the Stromboli Volcano (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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The view of the smoldering crater at the summit of Stromboli (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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An eruption at the summit of the Stromboli Volcano (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Two of the Aeolian Islands as seen from the top of Stromboli at sunset (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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An eruption at the summit of Stromboli (credit: Veronique Mergaux)

 

Unguided hike on Stromboli (cannot go to summit) – 7 miles; +/- 1,400 feet

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Map of Stromboli showing the hiking route taken by many people who want to get as close as possible to the volcano summit without hiring a guide.
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Approximate elevation profile of the hike above.

This hike will take you up the old climbing route towards the summit of Stromboli. However, you must stop at the 400 meter panoramic viewpoint unless you have a guide. This route is known as the Sciara del Fuoco route. As mapped above, you traverse near the shore of the island until you reach the beginning of the road Mulattiera Salvatore Di Losa. You follow this road for roughly 1 mile until you reach a restaurant.  From there, you take the road Salita al Vulcano – Labronzo for another 1 mile until you reach the 290 meter panoramic viewpoint. Finally, you take a steep and rocky trail for the last 0.25 miles until you reach the 400 meter panoramic viewpoint. From here you can see some of the fumaroles of the active volcanic craters.

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Approaching the restaurant along the way to the viewpoints (credit: Alvin Mah)
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View of the restaurant below from the 290 meter viewpoint (credit: David Cecchi)
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View of Stromboli from the 290 meter viewpoint (credit: David Cecchi)
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View of Stromboli from the 400 meter viewpoint (credit: Kau Aare Saar)

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Island of Vulcano

Vulcano’s main attraction is the Fossa di Vulcano or the large volcanic crater located on the island. The crater is reach via the short hike described below. Many people visit Vulcano as a day trip and you can also take advantage of the mud baths during your visit.

Hike to the Fossa di Vulcano (volcanic crater) – 4.2 miles; +/- 1,250 feet

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Map showing the route of the popular hike from the Vulcano Port to the Cratere di Vulcano.
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Approximate elevation profile of the hike above.

To reach the trail, head to the left along the water after you get off the boat at the Port of Vulcano. Soon you will reach Strada Provinciale 179. Follow this road for roughly 0.5 miles until you see a sign for Accesso al Cratere (access to the volcanic crater). From here, take the trail up all the way to the crater.

This hike is very exposed to the sun, so be prepared with water and sunscreen. From the top of the crater you will get great views of the island and of the crater itself. The overall hike is not too long, but you can circumnavigate the whole crater to get up to 4 miles as shown above.

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Head to the left along the edge of the water after getting off your boat at the Vulcano Port (credit: Spiagge di Vulcano)
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Continue along Strada Provincial 179 towards the trailhead (credit: Google Streetview)
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Take the trail on the left when you see the sign for Crater Access. (credit: Google Streetview)
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Heading along the trail to the Vulcano Crater (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Looking back towards the port and the island of Lipari (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Around the 0.7 mile mark the trail begins to get pretty dusty due to all the volcanic ash (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Hiking at the 1 mile mark along an ash ridge (pictured: Cascade mountain tech trekking poles) (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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From mile 1.1 to 1.3 the trail meanders along a rocky ridge (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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From mile 1.3 to 1.5, you have a final steep climb before reaching the edge of the Vulcano Crater (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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View of the island of Panarea from the edge of the Vulcano Crater (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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The Vulcano Crater (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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There is a trail that circumnavigates the entire crater. You climb about 300 feet if you get to the top edge of the crater (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Alternate view of the Vulcano crater (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Alternate view of the Vulcano crater (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Alternate view of the Vulcano crater (credit: Veronique Mergaux)
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Looking back at the island of Lipari from Vulcano crater (credit: Veronique Mergaux)

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Island of Panarea

Panarea is one of the smaller Aeolian Islands. The island is known for being chic and tony but also has a large reserve and some hiking trails. Two routes are shown below.  Both routes reach the island’s summit, Punta del Corvo. From the summit you get nice views of the coastline and of the other Aeolian Islands. Trails (old mule paths) are reasonably easy to follow, but there is elevation gain involved. For information about Panarea and some good directions on the quickest way up to the summit Punta del Corvo, this website is a good resource.

Hike around Panarea – 4.5 miles; +/- 1,750 feet

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Map of the hike that circumnavigates around the island of Panarea
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Approximate elevation profile of the hike that circumnavigates (clockwise) around Panarea.
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This hike starts from the town of San Pietro.  This is the port in San Pietro (credit: google streetview)

Head South from the port and follow Vetter Panarea to Via Drautto.  Via Drautto will take you ~1 mile all the way South to the Ristorante Zimmari. From there, the road more or less ends and you will start hiking along a dirt trail/path.

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After you reach the Ristorante Zimmari, hike 0.2 miles across the beach at Zimmari. (credit: google streetview)
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At the end of the beach, head up the stairs. The stairs wind up a narrow hill leading to the trail (credit: google streetview)
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View from the top of the stairs looking back at the Zimmari Cove (credit: google streetview)
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At the top of the stairs, there is a junction. Take the path to the right, which leads up to the summit of Punta del Corvo. (credit: google streetview)

From here, the trail tranverse 0.6 miles of moderate incline over to the Southwest coastline of the island. You then begin the steep 1 mile climb up to the top of Punta del Corvo.

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View from the trail looking up towards the Punta del Corvo summit. (credit: Jurgen Kirberg)
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View from the summit of Punta del Corvo looking northeast towards Stromboli (credit: Herbert Garcia)
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View from the summit of Punta del Corvo looking southwest towards Vulcano and Lipari (credit: Herbert Garcia)
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The trail then continues to the north shore of Panarea. Along the way you get nice views of Stromboli in the distance. (credit: Giambattista Pisasale)

As you continue north, the trail eventually widens and your can follow the wider trail to Via San Pietro. You can then follow this road back down to the port at San Pietro.

 

Panarea alternate hiking route – 4.7 miles; +/- 1,900 feet

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Map of a hike on the island of Panarea.
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Approximate elevation profile for the hike shown above.  Data corresponds to hiking counter clockwise around the large loop on the left side.

For this hike, many of the views are the same as those shown above. Thus, I will only show two pictures from the trail leading from San Pietro across the island and up to Punta del Corvo.

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View from the trail as it heads above San Pietro towards Punta del Corvo. This view is looking back at San Pietro with Stromboli and in the background. (credit: Fabio Virgillito)
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On the way up to the summit you pass by many old stone walls (credit: Herbert Garcia)

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Island of Lipari

Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands and is a very popular island to stay on since it acts as a gateway of sorts with many boats leaving from Lipari to other islands. There are many hiking trails on Lipari and you can find short trails near most of the towns on the island. Here I will describe a few longer routes, but most of these hikes can be broken up in two. Most hikes provide great views of the Lipari coastline and of the neighboring islands of Vulcano and Salina.

Hike from to Quattropani to Pianoconte to Lipari – 9 miles; +/- 1,960 feet (one way)

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Map of hike from to Quattropani to Pianoconte to Lipari

 

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Approximate elevation profile of the hike above

This trail follows along the west coast of Lipari and provides great views of the shoreline and of Salina, Vulcano, Filicudi and Alicudi. Since it is a one way hike, it is best to take a bus or taxi to the starting point.

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View looking south towards Vulcano from the Belvedere Quattrocchi in Pianogreca (credit: Lorenzo M.)
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View of Salina from the trail near Quattropani (credit: Associazino BIOS)

 

Loop on the South of Lipari – 7 miles; +/- 1,800 feet

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Map of a hiking loop on the South end of Lipari
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Approximate elevation profile of the hike above

This trail is a compact loop on the south portion of the island of Lipari. The loop allows you to stop t the Observatory and weather station and catch great views of Vulcano and the coastline.

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View of the Lipari coastline from near the Observatory (credit: Adam Azarchs)
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View of Vulcano from the lookout near the Observatory on Lipari. (credit: google streetview)
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View from Punta della Crapazza at the southern tip of Lipari. Looking at Vulcano. (credit: Concetta Marino)

 

Across Lipari, summit of Mt. Angelo and Mt. Chirica – 10 miles; +/- 2,700 feet (one way)

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Map of a hike across the island of Lipari that goes over two summits.
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Approximate elevation profile of the hike above

This is a tough hike that traverse the whole island from south to north. Along the way, you summit Mt. Chirica, the highest point on the island of Lipari. Note that it is one-way hike and you will either need to take a bus to the starting point or take a bus home at the end of the hike.

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(check out my other trip reports here!)

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