Stromboli, the Mediterranean lighthouse, was the jewel of our trip. This small Eolian Island conditioned the route we did in Sicily. When we learned that one of the options included climbing this eruptive volcano, we clearly saw which route to follow. However after a Skype call with a friend of Dani, Ruben, we idealized this adventure and unknowingly we named the blog.
AFTER THE AMAZON Girl
It turns out that Rubén had gone to Stromboli twice to work as archaeologist. He told us that to climb the crater one had to hire some of the companies that organize these excursions; at least if we wanted to legally climb and avoid a possible fine of € 500.
Some say the fine system began after hikers died from breathing in toxic gases. Others told us that it was simply a collection measure and that since they banned the route, the agencies that organize these excursions become gold.
Anyway, he slept there at least the second time he visited the island. At dusk he began his ascent and found a sheltered place to sleep without being seen by the guards and lived to tell. To tell Dani, who told me and made me want nothing more than to fill my bag with that experience. Sleep watching the lava fall from the volcano.
At first Dani didn’t want to. Let’s just say it inspired us some respect. QUITE. But after listening to the adventure of Ruben, I couldn’t accept any alternative plan. That’s why I asked Dani to Skype Reuben, this time with me present, to see if I was still convinced by the idea of climbing the Stromboli illegally and sleeping on the summit, or if we definitely will hire the tour and do the same touring as everything the world. During this conversation Ruben told him that it was a plan to do it with colleagues rather than with the girl, unless the girl was an Amazon Girl. We’ll see later if I earned the nickname 🙂
Adding to that, we traced the route to climb to the summit without being seen. In the map below you can see the blue path of the guided tours. It continues counterclockwise, as it is lowered more easily by a slope of volcanic ash for which it is impossible to climb. The green route that appears is the footpath of the Sciaro Del Fuoco, a route that leads to the viewpoint of the Sciaro Del Fuoco and from which only geologists who have special permits or the guards in charge can fine up.
DAWN IN MILAZZO
As we tell you in the previous post, after our visit to Cefalú we drove to Milazzo where we spend the night. Several ferries to the Aeolian Islands leave from its port every day: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi and Panarea.
Our time in Sicily was very limited so we had only booked one day to visit Stromboli. So our idea was to take the first ferry and return the next day as soon as we could.
We travel with Usticaline with a round trip price of € 45 per person. The ferry takes approximately one hour to reach Stromboli and on the way it stops at other islands.
Walking along the promenade on the way to the port began to dawn.
This was the first of many sunrises that Dani and I would share.
It was totally unexpected. In fact we were very lucky to be able to live it because with the rush and the nerves we ended up introducing ourselves in the port hour and a half before our ferry set sail. Dani almost killed me (I was the one who had organized it), but after this dawn all tiredness dissipated.
Since then, when we travel, we have taken to habit to rely more on moon and the sun than on the clock of the mobile. How well one wakes up if it is to see the wonder of a dawn!
ARRIVING TO STROMBOLI
The island of Stromboli has two villages, Stromboli and Ginostra. These villages only communicate by water. Ginostra is much smaller and the route to climb the volcano is more difficult from there so we went to Stromboli.
At the port of Stromboli we could already see the beautiful volcano that we wanted to finish.
We walked strolling along the shore enjoying the views of the volcanic beaches. Our plan for that day was to enjoy the morning on some secluded beach. Then go get provisions for the ascent to the volcano and start with the arduous task of hitting its summit of Stromboli.
Sometimes we got away from the coast a little by losing in the white whitewashed alleys. Scenes that you will know if you have seen the mythical Stromboli. film.
Even in July the island is a calm place where there is no rush of any kind. Stromboli goes to another rhythm and the tourists who visit it do not manage to end their inherent peace.
When you see the size of its streets you understand why there are no cars in Stromboli. The only vehicles capable of getting around the narrow streets are the motorcycles and the classic Piaggio Ape, like the one you see in the following image.
I don’t know if the Sicilians are always so nice or if they love to meet Spanish who speak perfect Italian (at least for my ears); but every time Dani asked someone anything they would respond with an incomparable kindness.
Looking for a shop to buy water we met a couple of Sicilians. They not only recommended us the cheapest store in Stromboli; but also offered to sleep at their home if we finally decided not to climb the volcano. And best of all, we were taken to a beach to spend the morning that completely changed our adventure in Stromboli. La Grotta di Eolo.
This cave made in lava is the best refuge that can have a volcanic beach. The contrast of the fine black sand with the blue of the sky and the sea was magical. The access to this cave is quite hidden so I recommend you look at its location on the map.
From here you can also see Strombolicchio, an islet only 2km away from Stromboli and whose name means Little Stromboli in Sicilian. This small islet is really nothing other than what remains of the original volcano that collapsed into the sea.
Another curious thing that we found on the way to this beach was the action poster in case of tsunami. In Stromboli earthquakes are quite common and if they are large scale may generate very high waves and tsunamis.
In 2002 there was a Tsunami on the island that caused a lot of damage, so since then it is easy to find such posters.
After our morning of sun and sand we picked up to go to the store that we had been recommended, the Bottega Del Marano. Do not expect a supermarket. It is rather a grocery store where they sell pickles, water, and the best, they prepare sandwiches. So I bought myself a sandwich of dried tomatoes and cheese, and Dani a Sausage one and kept them with the idea of taking them up on the volcano. In addition we bought other typical things of the zone, like a cream of pistachio to spread. The purchase was unusually expensive (even though the Sicilians recommended us the cheapest store in Stromboli). Each sandwich cost us about € 10; although it is certain that later we would discover that they were very good.
Near the shop is the Parrocchia di San Vincenzo Ferrari. I recommend you to visit it, especially for the views from the viewpoint of your square.
From here you can see the Strombolicchio and its lighthouse.
Just before embarking on our adventure we ate at La terraze di Eolo. More Italian pasta and white wine to start off with what we had been waiting for so long.
REACHING THE MIRADOR DI LA SCIARA DEL FUOCO
The viewpoint of Sciara Del Fuoro is about two hours from the center of Stromboli. I recommend that you take it slow since Julio’s sun can be tough. And of course take plenty of water. On the way you will not find many places to stop to buy.
It’s simple at first. Just walk along the Northwest, either Via Vittorio Emanuele or Via Regina Elena, if you want to see the coast. Then you will follow Via Piscità.
When you reach the osservatorio the road can be more abrupt because of the undergrowth, which practically covers you. In addition, the trail goes up making it harder and heavier.
The osservatorio was a center of study and monitoring of the activity of the volcano, although nowadays it is only used as a restaurant.
After a rather rough trekking, not so much because of the unevenness but by the exhausting zigzag, we arrived at the lookout point just to see the sunset. This viewpoint is located about 290m above sea level. It has two levels. From the second you can see the Sciaro Del Fuoco, the path through which the lava flows into the sea.
We got to see smoke coming out of the volcano and some rocks rolling down the slope. But none of the explosions that Ruben had told us about. As any natural phenomenon is impossible to control and it turns out that during our trip to Stromboli the volcano was in one of the times of less activity.
The passage of the route is cut by a sign that warns of the fines. From there it cannot be followed, at least legally.
Dani offered to inspect the ground beyond the forbidden passage sign. After half an hour he returned to the lookout, where I was waiting for him. His face said it all. Going beyond what was allowed was dangerous. The road remained close to the precipice, where with any false step the chances of falling directly to the Sciaro Del Fuoco were very high.
WELL, THAT’S WHAT HE TOLD ME…
But I had not gotten there for Dani to tell me what was on the other side, so I persuaded him to accompany me to see it with my own eyes. And the truth, there was no path fully defined, but to fall to the precipice you had to be rather awkward.
When it was dark, we turned on the torches and continued to climb. Increasingly slow, not knowing very well whether we were following a road or if the road had completely blurred, on a ground that was increasingly covered by the ash.
Suddenly, lanterns from elsewhere seemed to point us out and then the paranoia broke out. Dani made me run upwards to the volcano, hide behind a stone and other escape strategies worthy of an experienced fugitive. For a moment I felt this feeling of being in the middle of a chase, but it didn’t take me long to see that it was difficult for anyone to follow us. Dani insisted that the guards had seen us and were going to fine us at any moment, but the truth is that we never got to see them.
One of Dani’s theories was that they were pointing a flashlight at us from the Osservatory because they were helping the guards locate us; when we both knew that the osservatorio only worked as a restaurant.
We were very close to the summit, at about 900 meters of altitude. We listened perfectly to the voices of those who made the guided tour of the volcano. We saw the lights of their flashlights a few meters away. But Dani was not in the mood to pull out the camera, so we decided to go down again to the lookout.
To finish off the anecdote, I turned off the flashlight because I thought we were near guards who had turned off their flashlights to catch us by surprise.
When we passed by where he thought I had seen the guards, I clearly saw 4 eyes that watched us silently in the dark. With a shrunken heart, I turned on the flashlight and pointed.
TWO GOATS BALLARON AND HUYERON SCARED BY OUR LAUGHS
As you will understand after that experience I don’t know if I earned the nickname of amazon girl or not, what I know is that I’ll mess with Dani for a while.
STARED NIGHT AT STROMBOLI
About two hours later, having started our stealth climb, we were at the starting point again; the viewpoint of the Sciaro Del Fuoco.
I would be lying if I said that in the darkness of the night the eruption of Stromboli was clearly visible. Sometimes sparks of fire seemed to shoot into infinity. Other times a mute roar broke the silence of the night.
It was the first time that Dani made night shots and, although the image is not perfect, thanks to her we have a memory of what we lived that night. A million stars and the heat of the volcano were with us. I opened my sleeping bag and lay down to watch the infinity.
bivouac IN LA GROTTA DI EOLO
But peace did not last all night. The sky covered with clouds threatening with rain. We collected the sacks and decided to continue descending the volcano to find a place to sleep sheltered. And where better than in Grotta di Eolo.
The downhill road made us ten times more tired than the climb. The endless zigzags cost us more than the steepest of all the trekking. When we finally arrived to La Grotta, about 2 o’clock in the morning, we could not believe it.
We returned to unfold the sleeping bags inside the cave. That night was the first time we did Bivouac. The temperature was perfect. In addition there were no mosquitoes and we could sleep the rest of the night.
The next morning we got up early, with the first lights that sneaked into our cave and headed to the port where we caught the ferry back.
We keep a special affection for this experience. Our first volcano. Our first big adventure. Having to support each other to achieve common goals.