Sailing directions Sicily - the Aeolian Islands  
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Sicily - the Aeolian Islands

Always to follow the LLLL rule: lead, log, longitude and lookout. Keep an eye around and always be sure of where you are and what you are supposed to have below your craft

The unique combination of beauty, poetry and sheer power offered by the Seven Pearls of the Mediterranean is unmatched by any other corner of the world. In no other place you can, in the same evening, swim in deep blue waters under a thundering volcano when the sun sets, enjoy the best Swordfish Roll with caper sauce, sip a glass of that sweet ambrosia called Malvasia, then sail under the-never ending fireworks of the 'Lighthouse of the Mediterranean'. thenyou can enjoy amazing cocktails at the 'Barbablù' restaurant, share Ingrid Bergman's feelings when she fell in love, here and then, on the set of Rossellini's masterpiece 'Stromboli, the Land of God', or again stroll along the paths where Philippe Noiret played Pablo Neruda in the movie 'Il Postino - The Mailman'. But it's not over yet: capers, amazingly deep blue waters, the most fascinating alleys and witewashed houses, and the still struggling fisherman's heritage in a place where time indeed stopped rushing ahead.
 

Weather and anchorages: in summer there are only two dangers: westerlies (easy to forecast, and channel 68 is kind of reliable) and thunderstorms, that can bring sudden 40-knots blows in pitch black visibility   They are easy to spot. You do not want to be in stromboli if one arrives. I sailed two years in Patagonia/Magellan strait but sicilian thunderstorms stand up the challenge. In westerlies, the best anchorages are Salina E side S of harbour, Panarea Milazzese (best overall anchorage) and even, with a line ashore, the E side of Stromboli, just under the grey slide mid island (surprisingly very calm). Both NW and SW tend to come more from W. In thunderstorm you might just have to switch side of any island for a couple of hours. Lipari is never a good anchorage for the endless ferry traffic. Vulcano E side nearly bottomless. Filicudi nice in good weather. Forget Alicudi altogether. Nice small anchorages if you can get into, some bays on the W side of vulcano and Lipari. The anchorage in Stromboli is just off the NE tip of the island. Acceptable holding in 15 metres. Watch for foul anchor in rocks in Ginostra, Cala Nave and Basiluzzo.  Day anchorages for swimming, not to be missed: Panarea: Basiluzzo-NE corner, Lisca Bianca, and Cala Nave (NW corner of Panarea). Filicudi: rocks W of the island and cave. Salina: Pollara (W side, where they filmed 'The Mailman'. W sides of Vulcano and Lipari. Breezes: thermals from NE in calm days between 1 and 5. Good for sailing.  Dangers: apart from the rocks, easy to spot but not at night, SE of Panarea and W of Filicudi, none whatsoever. You just need a long anchor chain, and possibly a delta-cqr

Harbours: small, crowded, noisy and unpolite. Forget them. To fuel up: Salina. Water: the island are now in deep water shortage, and to get water will not be easy. I hope you have a watermaker, otherwise slip a 50 euro note at the salina fuel dock. I spent two months without a harbour last year, it can be done. The deck will suffer a little but I explained the clients about the water shortages. Milazzo: a commercial harbour. No diesel (too shallow) and water at the marina if they are in good mood. DEFINITELY shop at the fish market right behind the barbour. Supemarkets deliver (just ask). Wine shop and excelent butchery between the first and the secon street behind the habour end (the marina end). Shop at the market: swordfish and tuna a must, and cheap. Just broil them fast or make sushi or tartare (good recipes on our website for the sicilian specialties). Mussels are safe and very good. Clams also. Prawns not to be relied upon.

Natural beauty, seascapes and landscapes

The seven islands forming the archipelago are all volcanic, with Salina boasting two twin cones reaching 3,000 feet. Stromboli, itself over 3,000 feet, is very active and Vulcano mildly so. The 5-hour return night hike on top of Stromboli is something you'll never forget. The landscape is one of strong contrasts, black sands, small but very high islets with vertical walls and crystal clear waters, red lava forming small coves and deep caves, pillars of frozen rock jumping out of the sea. Each island has its own features and peculiarities, but all of them can embrace the voyager with that magic spell that made this area our favourite in the world, hands down.

Local insight
Life on the islands of the archipelago is very peculiar out of the busy months of July and August. The local population is somewhat odd, to say the least... You might meet local fishermen that could star as Robinson Crusoe, Australian expats with an artistic touch for gardening, restless travellers who got charmed and cannot move again, German wine producers who forgot their homeland altogether, Dolce & Gabbana, I mean themselves in person, the Princess of Belgium, Sicilian butchers with Swiss butcheries, a refined gay set, fishmongers with a Pavarotti talent, the Italian President and a very rude, but still powerful for his firm hold on the Ginostra transport monopoly, donkey man. Just get lost in the alleys and by sunset you'll be sipping with the locals.


Art & Museums
Alas, not the area's strong point. Even if Lipari and Salina occasionally boast interesting venues, it's a shame to loose time into any building that does not serve food or booze. BUT never forget that Palermo and Catania are close by, and Reggio Calabria is the home of the world famous ' Riace Warriors '.


Gastronomy & Wines
You won ’t have shortage of surprises when you sit down at the table in this area. The locals like their suppers long and substantial, and you might experience a slight sensation of overfilling. When you eat around here, you understand the full value of a siesta and stop wondering why the locals close their businesses between 12 and 4… The variety of fish is very wide, the local specialties endless. Among the local ingredients we list Salina capers, Ustica lentil, Nebrodi provola cheese, Modicana cows, Minuta olives, Magghia Masculina fish, local tuna and swordfish (Pesce Spada) and Vastedda del Belice Cheese. Among the 'must try': Pasta alla Norma, Swordfish Rolls (involtini di Spada), involtini messinesi, cannoli (in Salina)
Local Wines: Wide variety, strong body, high alcohol levels for Sicilian wines. Alcamo, Contea di Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Delia Nivolelli, Eloro, Etna, Faro, Malvasia delle Lipari, Marsala, Menfi, Monreale, Moscato di Noto, Moscato/Passito di Pantelleria, Moscato di Siracusa, Riesi, Sambuca di Sicilia, Santa Margherita di Belice, Sciacca, lemon liquors (called "Limoncello").

Restaurants: Ginostra (puntazzo), Stromboli (Barbablu), Panarea (Pina)

Highlights:

  1. Stromboli: it’s impossible to overestimate the subtle charm and violent beauty of this unique island. With its continuous volcanic fireworks, the fiery furnaces of hell are closer to the sky than the tolling of the churchbells. Sometimes, with westerly winds, a violent thunder remind the bar-going visitors that indeed one is standing on an open scar on the Earth’s crust. The pirotecnic show can be either leisurely enjoyed sailing at night under the Sciara of the W side, or deservedly admired from the top after a 3-hour hike. The main village is a continuous surprise of tiny alleys, shouting fishmongers, perfect whitewashed houses, small squares, tiny shops and trendy bars (Barbablù on top of the list). The tiny village of Ginostra, on the SW corner, is a magical place. All this, alas, comes at a price: there is no safe anchorage to speak of. Staying here during a gale is a serious affair and requires a perfect mastering of anchorage techniques with lines ashore and a constant lookout. Reserve for Stromboli your calmest days. Foodwise the supermarket is rather depressing, but the butcher behind the port can raise the spirits of any good trencherman. Fish can be purchased from a supremely voice-gifted chap who goes around shouting ‘Fresco pesce’ (fish fresh) around noon in the main square.
  2. Panarea: the trendiest destination in the archipelago, Panarea flies high in the central days of August and rapidly falls into a quiet somnolence for the rest of the year. The good anchorage of Milazzese allows tranquil stays in westerlies, and a good starting point to walk around the alleys of the island. Restaurants here tend to be more pricey than good quality, so are the shops. Not a lace where to stock up, but certainly Panarea offers the best swimming spots in the area at Basiluzzo, Lisca Bianca, Cala Nave and Cala Giunco.
  3. Salina: this double-cone island offers good shelter just S of the Santa Marina harbour. The town of Santa Marina lives around the main street, running between old Sicilian houses, stylish balconies, nice shops and big churches. One can walk up and down this street without getting bored. The fishmonger right at the harbour is among the best in the islands, so is the butcher in the main street. Try a fresh cannolo at Matarazzo, right behind the terminal. Another interesting destination is Pollara, the vilage on the W end where the movie ‘The Mailman’ was filmed. The bay at the bottom of the cliff is spectacular, its waters crystal clear.
  4.  Then comes Filicudi, try if you can lay out a line to the dock in the village to the S side.
 
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