The Aeolian islands (Isole Eolie) are a group of seven islands located in the Tyrrhenian Sea about 25 kilometres north of Sicily and about 60 kilometres west of Calabria. The Aeolian Islands are one of the Italian Unesco World Heritage Sites and are a fascinating place to visit. Recently discovered by tourists, these spectacular volcanic islands can be very busy in July and August, attracting up to 200,000 visitors per year. The islands are: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Panarea, Filicudi and Alicudi. There is also a large rock called Basiluzzo.
Lipari is the main island in the archipelago. It is ten kilometres long and five kilometres wide with an area of 37 square kilometres.
The main town, also called Lipari, is the main point of arrival and departure for the ferries to the mainland and has an interesting history. Visitors to the island can visit the reconstructed Norman church and the archeological museum nearby. The Island once traded in Obsidian, but today supplies much of the world's Pumice Stone.
Vulcano is dominated by the Gran Cratere volcano cone which can be seen smoking, giving off clouds of sulphurous gas. The island is renowned for its mud baths and hot water springs.
Salina is much greener. Covered in wooded hills, it is ideal for visitors who like walking and is the only island suitable for agriculture as it has a plentiful water supply.
It is the second largest of the islands at 27 square kilometres. It is two miles distance from Lipari. It was named 'Salina' after a salted lake found at the south-eastern tip of Santa Marina where the local inhabitants collected salt to preserve fish.
Panarea is a smaller, more upmarket island with terrific views across to Stromboli.
Stromboli is the most remote of the islands. The volcano on Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth and has been erupting almost continuously since 1932. Because its eruptions are visible for long distances at night, it is known as the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean". It is among the world's most visited volcanoes. Boat trips take visitors around the island at night to witness the spectacle.
Filicudi and Alicudi lie to the West and are much less visited, particularly Alicudi, which is much less developed than the other islands.