Islands in the sun

Summer travel reveries conjure up images of islands in the sun and vacations by the water. July and August offer ideal weather for a visit to the Mediterranean. But I'm not thinking necessarily about the larger, well-known islands like Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, or Malta: how about the smaller Greek islands or the Aeolian Islands?

The Aeolian Islands? Yes. Volcanic in nature, they rise in the Mediterranean just north of Sicily. Sparsely inhabited most of the year, the clear waters offer great opportunities for snorkeling and diving. There are seven of them and they are all ruggedly beautiful.
Stromboli is still an active volcano that sometimes attracts hikers, while closer to the mainland the aptly-named Vulcano is a destination for those who like hot mud baths.

The other five have exotic names from ancient times: Salina, Filicudi, Alicudi, Lipari and Panarea.

Thousands of years ago, the Greeks settled in Sicily. Greek sailors believed these seven islands were the home of Aeolus, the god of the winds. The legend says he held the winds in a bag to be let out with great caution. Indeed by all accounts the area can be quite windy, especially during the winter months.

So summer is the best time to get lost and unwind on one of these islands.
Most visitors stay in small hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.

I drew this scene of a hotel alcove from a photograph.
For more photographs, see "The Magnificent Seven" from this nautical site.

The Italian tourism office also offers more information. Scenes from Panarea and Lipari can be viewed here.

Photographs on this page are courtesy of Giuseppe C. (Lipari), Aschwin Prein (brooding Stromboli with smoke rising) and Vincenzo Piazza (Stromboli in the distance). They made them available on the web for free use with attribution. Thank you, all.

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