Day 21 - Tuesday 19th July 2016
19.07.2016 - 19.07.2016 28 °C
Woke early this morning as the kids were leaving us and heading to Rome on their own. We had booked them on the 7am hydrofoil out and they then had a 9:37am train from Milazzo station for a 9 hour ride to Rome. I carried their suitcases up the lane beside the house to where we'd been parking the car, it's all uneven stones so pulling them on the wheels would probably cause damage so I carried them. After two trips to the car I was sweating even though it was only 6:15am. I dropped them at the port with time to spare, headed to Canneto as my aunt asked me to drive her up to the mountain.
I got home and had a leisurely breakfast, enjoying my coffee with the amazing view from the house. We had booked an afternoon/evening boat trip for today departing at 2pm from Lipari, and on our agenda was to visit the archeological museum here in Lipari - so many have told me how amazing it is and it houses some of the oldest pieces ever found by man. We took off after breakfast with all our gear we'd need for the later cruise and drove to the museum. We found an open all day parking area, we'd leave the car there until night and headed inside. The museum is spread over a few buildings, one is dedicated solely to the volcanic studies and specimens of the region, lots of interesting information on each of the islands there. There was an empty church, but my favourite here was the cathedral of St Bartholomew, the patron saint of the islands. Beautifully painted and adorned, we could take photos anywhere and even allowed behind the altar. As a child my mum used to get me to put a picture of this Saint up against the window during a lightning storm to protect us. His statue shows him holding a sword in his left hand and she used to say he'd cut the lightning with it.
One building here housed hundreds of clay vases and other items rescued from shipwrecks found in the regions over hundreds of years. We saw pieces of cannons from the 17th century Spanish wreck, literally thousands and thousands of exhibits. Pieces of rock and metal dating back up to 5000BC, Greek tragedy masks, lots of sarcophagi, tombstones with Greek inscriptions. We had allowed three hours here and the area isn't that big but there is just so much to see, we had to rush the last few bits as we wanted to sit and have lunch before our boat trip.
We went to the car to grab our gear and walked around the walled area that encircled the museum and the churches to the marina over the side. We found a place right by the marina so we could eat then scoot over. The boat trip we booked was to take us to the two furthest north islands of the group. We boarded and sailed, firstly around the other side to Canneto to pick up more passengers, it then cruised by Spiaggia Bianca then headed north to Panarea. It took about 30 minutes and the first stop was a small bay where we anchored and could jump in and swim around. I think I heard them say in Italian on the speaker it was a UNESCO listed sight, name was Cala Junco. The water was so clear, we were deep but I could see the bottom clearly with my snorkel gear, but saw no fish however. We climbed back aboard then headed to the dock where we all got off. There isn't much to do here, we had 1 hr 15 min to look around, so we started walking. One thing very noticeable are that most of the buildings are white, the streets we walked in were narrow laneways so no cars evident but instead saw several golf motorised carts. We found a little bakery in a laneway and had coffee and a pastry each. We then just sat in the shade near the dock, I had my customary granita to cool off, then headed back on to the boat.
Our skipper then set course for the island of Stromboli, the furthest of the Aeolian islands and one of the most active volcanos in the world. It hasn't had a major eruption since 2005 but it is continually smoking and spitting fire. The cruise is sold to you on the hope you get to see some fire as the sun sets. There were lots of tourist boats trying to dock here, once we got on land we had about two hours to roam around. Not a lot to do other than eat or drink or swim - we headed for a spot on the beach and relaxed and swam a while. We weren't that hungry to have a big dinner after our pastries in Panarea but once we set sail from here it would be three hours before we got home so we stopped at what seemed a popular place and had a pasta each and a mixed drink each also (and used the wifi!).
We boarded at 8pm where our boat took us around the tiny rock island of Strombolocchi - "the eyes of Stromboli - named as it has a lighthouse on top. Coming south from Naples it's the first sign of islands so the lighthouse is very important and was manually run until recently when it became automated. I haven't mentioned but the whole time we've been on the cruise the water has been a little rough, hasn't made the experience pleasant but at least I wasn't unwell. Anyhow this tiny rock was beautiful to see and there was a rocky outcrop up top that resembled a seahorse when you saw it from the right angle.
By now the sun was slowly setting and the orange and red of the sun as it slowly sunk down into the water was beautiful. We'd all sat on the top open deck of the boat for this part as we slowly inched past the volcano, willing it to produce some magic. Sadly we didn't get to see anything other than a spurt of steam down low near the water. The island has residents on one side but on the other side is all lava, evidence of the eruptions making a black lava section of the island.
After marvelling at the sunset but disappointed in the lack of volcanic activity, the boat headed back to Lipari. This took over an hour, we docked sometime after 10pm and made the long walk back to the car. We weren't too tired so we drove to Canneto and popped into Bar Papisca for a snack and the wifi of course. It was nearly midnight when we got back home and soon hit the sack.