Mud and Craters
10 May 2014 | Vulcano, The Aeolian Islands
The Aeolian Islands (Isloe Eolie) are a group of nine islands off the North East coast of Sicily. They include; Stromboli, which erupts on a regular, almost daily basis, Vulcano where the title Volcano was derived from, Lipari with its ‘Museo Archeological’ and Panarea, a small island where the wealthy Italians have their summer homes. These islands with their beaches of black sand (lava) are small and peaceful during the out of season months but are invaded with many tourists for the rest of the year. It is said that the islands were named after Aeolus, the Greek God of Winds by the Ancient Greeks who settled there.
Our plan was to visit the Island Vulcano and very impressive it looked as we approached the bay, her one active crater smouldering away from its several fumaroles. After anchoring Paradise we quickly packed a rucksack with swim suits and towels and headed for shore in the dinghy. Once a shore it was not long before the sulphurous smell invaded our noses, something we had read about so it was no surprise. Our first objective was a dip in the sea to wade out to the bubbling hot springs. Paul had read that you selected the right temperature for you by how close you got to this spring in the sea. Well, it was a sunny day but still only April and the sea was chilly, so it was with a fair amount of apprehension that we tiptoed into the water towards the spring. Already out there were a couple of German ladies who gestated to me by lots of pointing the ‘warm’ spot. I took the plunge and swam out to them. This was not as easy as it sounds, the sea bed was very rocky and one had to be careful not to kick their legs or stub their toes onto these. Unhappily I did just that and finished up with a bruised toe and a spike from a sea anemone in the bottom of my foot. Once I reached the bubbly spring I realised the term hot was a misleading one. As for choosing how warm you wanted by how close you got to the spring, well I found that if I treaded water directly above I could feel slightly warm. Still it was a pleasant and unusual experience and it has to be said that Hayley really enjoyed herself, not seeming to feel the cold as we did. Paul did finally get in but it took a lot more waving and persuasion from the German ladies to get him there!
You cannot make a visit to Vulcano without sampling the fanghi (the bubbling mud pools). These are said to have therapeutic benefits for problems such as skin complaints and arthritis. Some like us are content to just lounge around in the pleasant muddy waters, whilst others plaster themselves with the grey mud and sit in the sun until it bakes hard on the skin. We enjoyed the experience but found we were the only ones there having a giggle and making a fair it of noise. All others there seemed to be floating quietly in an ethereal type of state. Whatever benefits it may or may not have it was pleasurable way to spend a couple of hours; only one point make sure to wear some footwear right to the edge of the pool, the sand sends up frequent sparks of heat giving a sharp pain to the bottoms of your feet.
The next morning we rose early to trek up the volcano with its active crater before the heat set in. Hayley and Paul hiked up the volcano easily with me trudging behind as usual. I really must get back into shape. Hayley kindly leant me a hand; otherwise it could have taken great deal longer for us to reach the top. Once there we were able to view the smouldering crater and many great photo shots were taken, especially of Hayley looking ghostly in the smoke from the fumaroles. Altogether quite an amazing visit to this volcanic island.