My husband and I had already been to Sicily before, so this time we decided to be adventurous and expand our tour beyond the main island and visit the Aeolian islands for the first time. We spent the first few days on our own in Taormina because we fell in love with it on our first visit, and then we headed to Milazzo port where our island adventures with Sicily Activities began.
Thanks to the recommendation from Alex, we decided to have our overnight stays on Lipari island at the beautiful Tenuta di Castellaro.
It was so nice to have our guide, Rosario, with us each day because he kept us intrigued with stories of the history of the island and showed us the most incredible places. Our car and boat transfers were perfectly managed throughout the whole trip, which left us more time to truly enjoy wonderful Sicily.
We started our first day at our hotel in Taormina where we were picked up on-time by our guide and driver, Rosario. He’s a local and it was great to hear his stories about his home island. It was an easy and beautiful drive to the Milazzo Port where we boarded the hydrofoil and headed to Lipari island. Once we arrived, we had a private transfer to Tenuta di Castellaro – our accommodation for a few nights.
The Estate of Castellaro is located in the highest village on the island of Lipari. The Estate was built by Massimo Lentsch and Stefania Frattolillo because they wanted to create a true work of art on the island where they felt a strong connection. The stunning vineyard and micro residences built from ancient ruins sure felt like art to us!
Once we checked in to our residence, we took a guided tour of the cellars where we learned about the whole winemaking process from hand-picking the grapes all the way through to the final product. The tour finished with a delightful wine tasting. The white wines, especially the Corinto, are a must try for every true wine-lover. Following the tasting, we enjoyed a fabulous lunch of Pasta Busiate (Sicilian wheat) with swordfish, aubergines, and mint. What a great first meal on the island!
After we had some time to ourselves to relax, we took an evening ride on our rented e-bikes to discover nearby villages and enjoy breathtaking views of the coastline. For a memorable view, the Quattrocchi Belvedere is 100% worth a stop. It’s the perfect spot to create a postcard-perfect panorama photo of Lipari so you always have a beautiful memory of the Aeolian Islands.
To round-off our lovely day, we had dinner in the family-run restaurant of Sangre Rojo. It was easy and quick to get to with our e-bikes…only a 15-minute ride! We had a home-style dinner with an amazing view and wondered out loud how life could get any better than this.
After a restful night’s sleep and breakfast at Tenuta di Castellaro, Rosario picked us up again and we headed to the port to take a hydrofoil to Vulcano island.
We had an epic morning on Vulcano island thanks to Rosario! He seems to know everything about volcanoes and really kept us captivated the whole time. While ascending the Gran Cratere (which wasn’t very difficult), we could really feel the mountain breathe as we moved up the crater thanks to the fumarole (the name of the hole that creates the thick fog of steam and gas). Around this area is where the soil takes on a yellow and ochre color, and from this elevation you can look down at the funnel-shaped crater.
Since we had Rosario as our guide, we were able to walk around the rim of the crater and across the Piano delle Fumarole. We wore masks and handkerchiefs to reduce the smell of sulphur since it’s so intense – but it was well worth it considering how amazing the experience was! The view from this spot is incomparable because the Aeolian archipelago is right in front of you with the farthest islands looking as if they were floating above the water.
While the Aeolian islands are known for their natural beauty, there are also many secret, magical places to explore. So after a light lunch, we relaxed in the centuries-old mud of the island of Vulcano. Not far from the little harbour are a variety of natural mud baths that bubble up from the Earth. We learned that these baths aren’t just great for the skin, but also help the bones and respiratory system! Because, the volcanic mud here is rich with the natural energy of the earth, it recharges body and mind.
Feeling refreshed, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Il Cappero, which has a coveted Michelin 1-star rating from the well-respected Michelin Guide and they also made a note that this restaurant is “one of our most delightful places”. We really enjoyed this meal; it was truly a dinner to remember with so many local flavors prepared in a modern, contemporary style.
Our third day turned out perfect for a full-day excursion to the islands of Panarea and Stromboli. We started our visit on Panarea from the beautiful bay of Calajunco, above which lies the prehistoric village of Cape Milazzese, and stopped at the nearby Cove of Zimmari for a refreshing, but quick, swim in the sparkling blue (sometime a little green) water tucked in between the rocky cliffs.
After a scenic ride between the Isolotti (tiny islands) and a visit to the Cave of Lovers, we reached the harbor where we stopped for a tasty, light lunch. Once we had replenished with delicious food, we took a stroll through the elegant streets of Cape Milazzese. This island is so breathtaking! We are so glad we decided on an island-hopping trip for this visit to Sicily.
Once we finished on the beautiful Panarea, it was time to head over to the island of Stromboli. The small fishing village of Ginostra was our first stop and it felt so real, so raw. Then, we visited the sloped depression where lava would flow like a river. Mother Nature is so fascinating! We weren’t quite done with seeing what nature could do because then we saw Strombolicchio, a giant sea stack. It’s a rock column alone in the sea that was formed throughout the years from various kinds of erosion. It seems to pop out of nowhere and even has a lighthouse on top!
The final part of our day included dinner at Il Puntazzo, and with their cozy outdoor terrace overlooking the sea, it was the perfect backdrop for a Sicilian dinner. On the way to the port we took an evening stroll through the shops and beautiful gardens and then set sail back to Lipari. Looking back at Stromboli at night is simply magical, especially when you can see the Sciara del Fuoco (“Stream of fire”), where the active lava flows.
For our last full day with Sicily Activities we stayed on the island of Lipari. Our objective was to discover as much as possible! After we left Tenuta di Castellaro, we visited the 15th century Castle of Lipari. This area has been inhabited since the Neolithic era (4000 B.C.) and has 6000 years of interesting history! We were looking forward to more incredible views, so we went to Monte Rosa where the observation deck offers unparalleled views over the sea. Once we took all the photos we could think of, we headed down to Canneto to walk through the town and enjoy the beach.
We wanted to visit one last island before we left, so we hopped on a boat and headed to Salina and its white sand beaches. Salina was the perfect place to take a dip in the water and take it all in from a different perspective. After taking a tour around the island from the comfort of the boat and getting a peek at Baia di Pollara, where the film “Il Postino” was shot by Massimo Troisi, we docked in the Santa Marina port.
For a bit of luxury, we headed directly to Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia for a special lunch full of traditional & original recipes with local ingredients paired with Tasca d’Almerita wines, including the local Malvasia. Delightfully full from lunch, we visited the picturesque village of Santa Marina, did some shopping, then hopped back on the boat to go back to Lipari. On the way, we took a peek at the Grotta degli Angeli and learned about the mythological area of Lipari. There are so many fascinating surprises in, and around, these islands!
We are so glad we worked with Sicily Activities on this trip because they created a wonderful itinerary that was just perfect for us. Not only that, but because they took care of the details, we didn’t have anything to worry about and could fully enjoy the islands. We couldn’t ask for better service and plan to return to experience another part of Sicily!