Sicily’s not the only island worth visiting in Italy. During the holiday season, we can organise many one-day trips to the islands adjacent to Sicily. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the Aegadian and Aeolian islands. Which ones should you visit? Here’s our list.
Pantelleria is a volcanic island, measured at roughly 83 km2, located around 70 km away from Tunisia. It earned its fame through the Operation Corkscrew, when the United Nations dropped almost ten thousand tons of bombs on the island. It’s also known for the residence, built by a famous fashion designer, Giorgio Armani. Pantelleria is in the Mediterranean climate, and is home to great wine and unique looking architecture. It’s not often chosen by the tourists, although we thoroughly recommend it. Apart from the rocky beaches, the island also allures with its hot springs, the Lago di Venere lake, the Balata dei Turchi viewpoint and the famous elephant-shaped rock – Arco dell’Elefante.
Lampedusa is a volcanic island, located near Tunisia, and it takes the spot of the biggest of the Pelagie islands. It’s also home to one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe – Spiaggia dei Conigli, also known as the Rabbit Beach. During the biggest recent wave of immigrants, it was not Sicily that was targeted for the most part, but rather Lampedusa. Prior to it, the island was inhabited by only 6300 people. Ever since the tens of thousands have entered the small island, Lampedusa has been trying to recover its touristic position, but the waves have not stopped. In June, 2019 another illegal immigrant ship had arrived.
Another volcanic island near Sicily, which takes up only around 5,5 km2 of space. The main attractions of the island are the black volcanic beaches, various monuments from the Punic Wars and the sea turtles, which have chosen the Cala Pozzolana beach as their nesting area. There are around 500 inhabitants on the island, and due to the generally tiny surface area, it’s not the greatest spot for touring.
Another volcanic island, this time with a proper surface area, at almost 40 km2. Although, there are only eleven thousand inhabitants, during the high season, the number of people on the island can jump to even 200 thousand. From all the islands around Sicily, Lipari – the biggest of the Aeolian Islands – is the one properly prepared for tourism. There’s a cathedral, a castle, a picturesque Marina Corta and an archeological museum, for all to see.
Salina, located on the Tyrrhenian Sea, is the second biggest island on the Aeolian Islands, with over 26 km2 of surface area. The island came to be as a result of six active volcanoes, with its height reaching 900 meters above the sea level. When it comes to attractions, we’ve got a chance to taste its characteristic Malvasia wine, the local capparis, the magnificent Monte dei Porri mountain and the Madonna del Terzito sanctuary.
Favignana is located roughly 7 km away from Sicily. It’s the biggest island of the Aegadian Islands, and in contrast to the rest, is not of volcanic origins. It takes up 20 km2 of space. We discourage animal lovers from visiting the island, especially during spring, as there is a mass slaughter of tuna, as a little spring ritual every year. Most of the island’s income comes from tourism, which mostly revolves around two beaches – Cala Rossa and Lido Burrone. Apart from that, there’s very little to do here, so it’s good, but only for one day.
Since we’ve got the biggest Aegadian island out of the way, time for the smallest one. Levanzo takes up 5,8 km2. The majority of the 450 inhabitants live in one town. When it comes to attractions, we’ve got Grotta del Genovese, where we can find wall paintings from the Paleolithic era. Apart from that, we’ve got the main town of Levanzo and some ancient ruins. In the summer, we can even use a boat to get here, as it’s only 13 km away from Trapani.
Another island from the Aegedian complex, in which apart from Favignana and Levanzo, there’s also Formica and Maraone. Marettimo is roughly an hour of travel away from Trapani. It takes up roughly 10,4 km2 of space, making it the second biggest in the complex. The main attraction is the main town (which shares the island’s name) and the Monte Falcone mountain, standing 686 meters tall. Apart from that, it’s just spending time on the magnificent beaches and enjoying the lazy day off.
Another island from the Aeolian complex, measured at 3,3 km2 of surface area. It’s also a volcanic island, but not nearly as popular as Lipari. The island’s got around 300 full-time inhabitants, but mainly due to all the celebrities who visit the island, the popularity’s slowly rising and every year, the high season marks higher and higher numbers. Apart from the views, we’ve also got the Capo Milanese ruins, hot springs and some good spots for diving.
The Etna volcano is not the only one we can visit in Italy. The Stromboli island, of the Aeolian complex, is formed around a, still active, volcano, reaching upwards of 926 meters above the sea level. The island’s surface area reaches only around 12 km2, and is inhabited by 600 people. The volcano is clearly the main attraction. Its most recent eruptions happened in 2002, 2003, 2007, 2013, 2014 and actually, yesterday (we’re writing this on the 4th of April, 2019) there was one bigger and 20 smaller eruptions. You can climb the volcano with a guide, which takes about 5-6 hours. Apart from the volcano itself, there are also some wonderful black volcanic beaches you should visit.
As is common with islands around Sicily, the Aeolian Alicudi is of volcanic origins. It takes up 5,2 km2 of space and is inhabited by around 120 people. As one may guess, there aren’t many attractions here. In fact, there’s also a lack of roads or cars, and all the resources necessary for the locals are brought by boats and seaplanes. The transport on the island relies purely on human muscles, mules and donkeys. All you can expect from here is a pleasant place to rest in, although accommodation is greatly limited around these parts.
Another Aeolian island, located to the north of Sicily, measured at 9,5 km2. It came to be as a result of 4, currently inactive, volcanoes. When it comes to attractions, we’ve got various grottos and caves, including the Grotta del Bue Marino and some incredible views of the rocks sticking out of the Tyrrhenian Sea. There’s also a few tiny towns on the island, with only 300 inhabitants living here full-time.