is a volcanic island of a sombre, unnerving beauty, with a coastline
with steep crags emerging from the sea. The almost total lack of
roads, its harsh beauty and, above all, the volcano, which makes
its presence felt with outbursts of fire and brimstone, have both
a strange and awesome power of attraction.
Terra di Dio (Land of God, 1950) right highlighted the difficulties
of living in such a place.
to go and what to take
watch the eruptions is especially impressive at night. It is recommended
to hike up in the late afternoon and returning in the evening (do
not forget to take a torch) or the following morning. Allow three
hours for the climb up and two hours for the descent; it is not
particularly taxing but it should not be undertaken by the faint-hearted,
especially in rare case of bad weather. Local authorised guides
are available on Stromboli for additional advice. For the ascent,
normal hiking equipment is recommeded: sturdy boots with ankle support
are preferable to running shoes or trainers. It is also important
to take a torch, a pair of long trousers, a spare T-shirt and, if
opting to stay overnight, a good sleeping-bag. Take a sleeping-bag,
a wind-cheater or jumper to wear at the top, where the temperature
can drop quite dramatically. The excursion can be undertaken all
year round. Still, the best period is late spring when the weather
is mild and temperatures are not too high; however a night excursions
in the summer months is also highly recommended.
the island there are two villages: on the north-eastern slopes,
green mantle that stretches to the north as far as San Bartolo,
are the small square white houses of San Vincenzo; to the south-west
is Ginostra, consisting of some thirty houses clinging to the rock,
in desperate isolation (there are no roads, just a mule-track along
the side of the hill), but accessible by sea (although not all year
round) by means of the smallest port in the world. The arid, precipitous
northern flank which separates the two villages, is the most impressive,
scarred as it is by the Sciara del Fuoco – down which the
burning lava flows each time the volcano decides to erupt.
San Vincenzo is the tiny islet of Strombolicchio, topped by a lighthouse,
bearing the unusual profile of a horse’s head.
crater – The hike up to the Stromboli crater is a unique and
fascinating experience as it provides the opportunity to enjoy a
breathtaking natural phenomenon. The route itself is beautiful,
with unforgettable views. The crater comprises five vents. Explosions
and other volcanic phenomenons can be watched from a few hundreds
to the volcano – 5 hours trip. From the ferry jetty at San
Vincenzo, once an important stop for mediterranean ships, head for
the centre of the village and follow the tarred road to San Bartolo.
Before long, the typical white houses dwindle to none, a mule-track
begins (follow the signs), at first paved with slabs of lava and
then, after a few bends, degenerating into a well-worn footpath.
After some twenty minutes there is an observatory point called Punta
Labronzo (refreshments available and fine view of the craters).
Beyond that, the route continues through a mule-track stretching
amidst a rich vegetation with at the end a breathtaking view of
the Sciara del Fuoco, the great black slope down which clunks of
lava make their way from the crater to the sea. Then starts a steep
track cut deeply into the side of the mountain, excavated by water
erosion, leading to a reddish lava section where care should be
taken in the awkward scramble upwards. To the left of this section
extends a fine view over the village and Strombolicchio, nearly
700m below. The path climbs up a broad, steep and sandy ridge to
the summit. Level with craters, safely tucked away behind low semicircular
walls, are the first viewing points from where the eruptions may
be observed at leisure. At this altitude, the craters appear between
intermittent clouds of vapour. A final stretch leads to the highest
– as well as closest to the crater vents – point. The
view, especially if with a favorable light wind, is spectacular.
Startling explosions shoot matter high into the air, tingeing the
night’s blackness with red.
boat trip – This is the best way to enjoy an overall picture
of the island and experience all of its different aspects.