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Destinations: Hidden Treasures of the Mediterranean

26_August_2012_Lipari2 August, 2012 Lipari, Italy: There are stories that Ulysses heard the song of the Sirens from the Aeolian Islands, a small string of 8 islands just off the north coast of Sicily and when you approach them by sea it is easy to imagine why. Unfortunately most charters decide to go to locations like Amalfi and Capri instead, simply because these resorts receive a great deal more press but the Aeolians should not be missed. The group is composed of 7 islands and each one is different. The entire areas sizzles in the dog days of summer and you can almost smell the hot sands of Tunisia, crowding the beaches and jamming the regular tourist spots in the region.

Lipari, Italy

Palermo is a great jumping off point but make sure to start with a trip to the beach at Mondello, which began as a small fishing village but is now one of the most popular  resort towns on the Sicilian North Coast. As you move away from Palermo however the water clears, the crowds on the beaches thin and the scenery becomes a great deal more bucolic. The first island in the group is Vulcano, which seems to have been designed specifically deliver the ultimate in luxury. Visitors can relax in the warm mud baths or swim in the steaming mid-sea fumaroles that come from the smoldering volcano in the center of the island.

The promontory of Vulcanello is sprinkled liberally with luxury hotels. The restaurants however are nothing to brag about and some visitors complain about the stink of sulfur. The largest attraction on Vulcano however is the smoking mountain itself and tours are given regularly, and the Fanghi di Vulcano, or mud baths and, a few miles away the genteel Oasi della Salute spa which has three hydro-massage pools and a beauty center.

But the heart of the islands is definitely Lipari. This is the only island with a relatively large town and a large year around population. The beauty of the island suffered significantly from pumice mining for several generations the mining has been banned and the government has plans to create a eco-museum and “geo-park” featuring thermal baths. The town has numerous flower hung alleys and the harbor, Marina Corta, is simply gorgeous.  The nightlife in the town centers around the many clubs, restaurants and bars circling the Marina, like Net Cafe, (Via Garibaldi 61 (tel. 090-9813527); Turmalin (tel. 338-6418362) which is a dance club near Piazza Municipio and finally Chitarra Bar, Salita San Giuseppe 5 (tel. 090-9811554).

 The Aeolian Islands do not have the glitter and glare and fast pace of Monaco or Marseilles but if you want to find a place to relax and enjoy a slow pace while maintaining a luxurious life style this is the place to be in the summers.