Adventuring the Aeolian Islands

Sarah O. Sicily, Italy


April 13, 2014

This week felt like Sicily was trying to push as much fun and energy into me before I have to hunker down and study for finals, find a summer internship, sign up for classes back home and begin realizing my fun here is almost over. Our school took a trip to the Aeolian Islands, which felt like a trip away from Earth to visit heaven and hell. I realize that sounds a bit strange, but I will explain.

We first had to wake up before the sun at 4:00 am to make the 4:30 bus. We were a lively group as we packed ourselves like sardines into the smallest bus we have rented thus far. Ironically, this was also the longest trip we would have to make on a bus as well. Four hours of never finding a comfortable position and no sleep later, we arrived to the Ferry. I have never been on a ferry before but this one seemed so nice. I was expecting to be thrown on top with the wind for two hours, but instead it was like first class. Seats on seats in the inside and seats on the outside if one wanted to catch some rays. So there we embarked to the Aeolian Islands.

When we arrived we stopped at Lipari to find our hotel, eat lunch, and drop our stuff off. Then we hopped on a private boat, no big deal, to circle the cliffs of Lipari. We were then plopped on the island of Vulcano to climb and study the volcano. Lipari was heaven with its clear blue waters, beautiful cliffs, and black sand beaches. On the contrary, Vulcano is hell. This island is riddled with holes that exude plumes of sulfur dioxide, which is bad enough, but then it has the volcano at the top spewing out even larger clouds of this yellow vomit. We hiked up the volcano, and the scenery was beautiful. We could see many of the islands from that height and it felt unreal how beautiful they were. But then we made it to the top and it was death, I accidentally swallowed a mouthful of the rotten egg vapor and almost threw up. Some of my classmates were gagging and had to go down early. We all were excited to leave the brimstone and ran down the mountain as fast as we could.

After the hike we were promised a nice spa treatment of a mud bath and hot springs in the ocean. We were all excited, mainly the girls, to try it out. We changed into our bathing suits, paid the two-euro charge, and walked into what was the second circle of hell. This was much worse than the volcano. There were holes all over the ground and in the mud that not only released the sickening sulfur but also burned your feet. We all were horrified by the mud and ran to the ocean to find the soothing hot springs. This is where the third circle of hell started. It was much, much worse than the mud. In order to get to the hot springs one had to walk over the most painful rocks in freezing cold water. The island was filled with trickery. It fooled us once, shame on it; it fooled us twice, shame on us. The hot springs were of course formed from sulfur gas. This “spa treatment” was the worst two-euro I have ever spent.

We were all very tired and sick from the sulfur and ready to get back to the paradise of Lipari. We arrived back and immediately showered the sulfur off and then went to eat dinner. We slept like rocks that night. The next morning we were rushed out of the hotel to visit a volcanology museum and have the rest of the day off. What better way to spend our time in paradise than sun tanning on beaches of black sand? Our time had come to an end, and we all wanted to stay but we had to pack up and make our long journey back to Siracusa.

The next night Siracusa welcomed us back home with a carnival. I do not remember the last time I went to a carnival but it was so much fun- the neon blinking lights and the sound of laughing and joyous screaming. We all acted like kids again and laughed and rode the rides. Our fun did not end there though. We then jumped into a friend’s car and went to Catania to dance until five in the morning.

Not only was this week filled with exciting adventures, but it was also filled with beautiful weather. Everyday now the sun shines and we are able to go to the little rock beach down the street from our school to sun tan and skip rocks. I think the thing I will miss most about this place will be those afternoon rock-skipping sessions. One day I forgot my bathing suit and could not resist that beautiful seawater and jumped in wearing my dress. Sicilians must think Americans are crazy, we had a crowd gathering to stare at us. We may be crazy, but we know how to squeeze the most fun out of this island and I intend to do this until my last day here.