It’s official: I’m a Sicilian junkie. The Aeolian Islands have cast their seductive spell on me. I am now suffering from acute Summer Withdrawal Syndome, and have been salivating over Salina ever since the day I left.
I keep going back to the bewitching Aeolians. The stark volcanic landscape is stunning, the sea sparkling, the cuisine simple and simply amazing. Despite being just off the north coast of Sicily, coming here feels like travelling to a bygone era, an exotic realm of towering cacti and terraces of capers, Malvasia wine and Mediterranean corsairs, donkey trails and dry-stone walls. The locals refer to the island of Sicily as ‘the mainland’; they consider Italy to be a distant, foreign place (and Europe another planet altogether). The Aeolian Islands are a world unto themselves—and no trip to Sicily is complete without a pit-stop on their beguiling shores.
Each of the seven islands is distinct and unique, but on my most recent visit earlier this year I was won over by the singular charms of Salina. Neither as large as neighbouring Lipari, nor as insular as Stromboli or Alicudi, Salina makes for the perfect Aeolian base. There is plenty to keep you busy—snorkeling and diving in the astoundingly clear waters, hiking up the volcanic Monte Fossa Felci, buzzing about on a moped questing after an aperitivo, boat trips around Salina or to the neighbouring islands. The restaurant scene is surprisingly lively given the small size of the island, with plenty of fresh seafood, hearty homemade pastas, and excellent local wines. And lest I forget; Salina happens to be home to the most unspeakably delicious granitas in the whole world (I tend to average about 3.5 of them a day when I’m there…).
Activities aside, Salina is the kind of place where one gladly abandons oneself to doing not too much at all—beyond floating about in the Med, tucking into ‘pasta con le sarde’ (sardines), sipping crisp white wine, and occasionally glancing over at Stromboli’s cone erupting with quiet regularity on the horizon… The mere thought of it leaves me craving my summer dose of pure, uncut Sicilian splendour.
For accommodation: Capofaro Resort is an immaculate five star resort with one of the most spectacular views we know of (the property offers fine dining and incorporates an excellent winery); Hotel Signum is in Malfa town, a stylish four star property with terraced rooms and a great spa.
And for those world-champion granitas: Bar da Alfredo in Lingua.
Rudston escapes over to the Aeolian Islands for “research” as often as he can. He is currently struggling to create his own Parisian granita recipe, resulting in great frustration.