Nestled amongst the Aeolian Islands, Lipari is the largest island of this volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily, where the volcanos on Stromboli and Vulcano smoke threateningly – and even occasionally erupt.
With just one day to spare, I travelled there by hydrofoil from Milazzo on Sicily’s north coast.
Arriving in the port-town of Lipari I was greeted by narrow unspoiled streets with lots of busy little shops and restaurants. After a light lunch I wondered how to best spend the few hours ahead.
Ignoring the famous archaeological museum, due to my time constraints, I hired an informative taxi driver/guide and headed off for a round trip of the island.
It was a clear blue day in early summer and the neighbouring islands of Salina and Vulcano seemed close enough to touch.
Apparently, Lipari is the only island in this spectacular group of seven islands that is alive all year round, though my guide assured me that he hibernates between November and March and that the island is often cut off from the mainland by winter storms.
Lipari, apparently, has a year round population of just over 11,000, which swells during the tourist season to up to 20,000 souls.
Driving north up the eastern shore I saw my first pumice mine. Because of volcanic activity, the island is rich in pumice and obsidian.
The island of Salina, where the wonderful movie “Il Postino” was shot, loomed ahead as we rounded the northernmost point of the island.
Heading south once more the island of Vulcano, with its scarred landscape hove into view.
Back then to the town of Lipari and the ferry which took me back to the main island of Sicily promising myself a return visit as soon as possible.