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Showing posts from August, 2014

Stromboli .... fire and passion

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With sadness we left Panarea heading for Stromboli. Stromboli is a extremely active volcano which erupts roughly every 20 minutes. Sciara del Fuoco As our boat approached, the cone which thrusts out of the sea became larger and larger and we could see the smoke bellowing out of its main crater. The boat docked at Stromboli Town, it was similar to Panarea with typical Aeolian houses, Dolce and Gabbana have a home here. We disembarked and started to explore. Stromboli Town is very small and like Panarea has no cars except electric buggies. The main attraction is the house where Ingrid Bergman lived in 1949 whilst filming Stromboli, Terra di Dio. The director Roberto Rossellini fell in love with her here and they started a passionate affair. Some say that without the scandal during the filming, the film would have sunk into insignificance. Ingrid Bergman's House The big business on Stromboli is climbing the volcano, you can climb freely along the trails

Panarea ... a celebrity hideaway

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The Aeolian Islands ….. My first encounter with the Aeolian Islands was at 20,000 feet, the descent into Catania starts just above them. The seat belt sign came on “we are now making our descent into Catania, to the left you can see Stromboli and the Aeolian islands” I looked down and thought “Wow!!!”  There they were like gems in the sea with Stromboli puffing away. Two years ago my husband and I unintentionally renewed our wedding vows in Taormina and then decided to celebrate by booking ourselves a day trip to the islands of Panarea and Stromboli. So we arranged for a driver to take us to Milazzo and then boarded a boat to Panarea, passing by the islands of Vulcano, Lipari and Salina. Panarea is the smallest of the Aeolian Islands and the most exclusive and we could not wait to visit. As we approached the island the sea became more and more dazzlingly clear and Panarea’s secluded islets came into view with blinding white yachts anchored . Eventually we reached the

The Aeolian Islands ... the Gems of Sicily

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"In a cave in Lipari, Aeolus kept the winds captive, and he gave Ulysses a fair breeze in a pigskin bag" Homer's Odyssey I am going to let you in on a secret … the Aeolian Islands ( Isole Eolie ). They are small pieces of paradise scattered off the Northern coast of Sicily. They appear out of the sea like a mysterious apparition. Stromboli There are seven islands, Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi and Alicudi. This stunning volcanic archipelago is the perfect setting for island hopping Sicilian style and each one has its own individual identity. Stromboli and Vulcano are both still volcanically active, Vulcano is famous for its therapeutic thermal springs and volcanic mudbaths. If you do not have the pleasure of your own private yacht, the islands are easily accessible from Milazzo and Messina by ferries and hydrofoils or by helicopter. The islands are named after the Greek demigod of wind and navigation Aeolus,  he lived there and

Buon Ferragosto .....

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Ferragosto , or Assumption Day, is one of the biggest holidays in Italy celebrated on 15 th August. Everyone takes the day off and heads to the beach. Traditionally, Ferragosto marks the start of Italy's summer holidays. There are celebrations throughout Sicily and also on the days before and after, including music, food, processions and fireworks. Ferragosto is known as "Midsummer Madness" in our town and it is when the temperatures soar. At this time of year the Northern Italian cities are deserted as everyone heads south to Sicily for their summer holidays. Goodbye until 1st September Ferragosto originated back in Roman times, when 15th August marked the middle of the summer and the end of hard labour in the fields. Later the Catholic Church adopted this date in commemoration of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and then it became officially known as Assumption Day. Straits of Messina In Messina we have a huge procession with pla

Taormina ... the Pearl of the Ionian Sea

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Taormina is the reason we first visited Sicily after it was featured in UK Glamour magazine as an alternative Valentines weekend destination and it will always remain my personal favourite place. From Giardini Naxos,Taormina up above appears to tumble down the hillside towards the sea. Piazza IX Aprile with San Guiseppe and Wunderbar Cafe Taormina is filled with ancient monuments and archaeology from various cultures including the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and Spanish. Taormina has a feeling of exclusivity and has been visited by writers, artists and celebrities over many years. The main pedestrianised Corso Umberto which weaves through Taormina between Porta Catania and Porta Messina entices you to experience boutiques from the best Italian designers, tempting  gelaterias and pasticcerias , and the many narrow steps leading up and down from the Corso invite you towards restaurants, many that have terraces with a view of the sparkling Ionian Sea. I never ne

The beginning of a Love Affair ... Part II

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So after my bejewelled sandals stepped foot on the tarmac, I was immediately seduced by Sicily. We had already seen Mount Etna as our plane was coming into land at Catania airport. (A little tip when flying to Catania, nine times out of ten when the plane lands Mount Etna is on the left hand side so make sure you book the window seat on the left, the view is stunning) Landing at Catania Airport We collected our luggage and met our driver at arrivals. The autostrada (motorway) is a fantastic introduction to Sicily and not just for the Sicilian way of driving. From Catania until the turnoff at Giardini Naxos you will see Mount Etna on your left and the Ionian Sea on the right sparkling under the Sicilian sun. You drive past ancient blacken lava flows and glimpses of orange and lemon groves. The coast line on the right is known as Riviera dei Ciclopi, Coast of The Cyclops. But more about that another time. Once we arrived at our hotel, the jolly manager instantly started to