is an island of 21sqm belonging to the Aeolian Archipelago. According
to Greek mythology, here was placed the forge of Hephaestus, the
god of fire, who worked as a blacksmith with the assistance of the
Cyclops. But the island was named after the Roman name of the God,
that is Vulcan, hence the term vulcanology.
very existence of the island results from the fusion of four volcanoes;
the largest and most dominant peak, Vulcano della Fossa, rising
up to 391m of reddish rock. Beside is the smaller Vulcanello, 123m,
which erupted on the north side in 183 BC. Although the last eruption
dates back to 1890, the volcano has never ceased to betray signs
of its activity; even today, such phenomenons as fumaroles, jets
and steam above and below sea level and sulphurous mud, highly prized
for its therapeutic properties, continue to be very much in evidence.
shoreline is much jagged sometimes resembling tentacles plunging
into the sea, its colour ranging from red to ochre-yellow and featuring
a scenery of wild and haunting beauty.
di Levante e Porto di Ponente – Between the two island’s
harbours, stretches the main town Porto di Levante, full of small
shops and furnished with contemporary sculptures made of lava stone.
to the crater – about 2 hours there and back. From the end
of the main road
Porto di Levante, the track to the crater gently climbs up along
a flank of the mountain offering enchanting views over the archipelago.
In the foreground is the Vulcanello peninsula, opposite is Lipari,
to the left stands Salina, with its characteristic two humps; in
the distance lie Filicudi, Panarea, on the right with its isles,
and Stromboli in the far background. About half-way up to the top,
is an area of compacted red earth, cut with deep regular furrows,
of some Martian landscape. The higher the path climbs, the stronger
is sulphur smell, combined with occasional cloud of steam. At the
top is a magnificent scenery with the Cratere della Fossa’s
huge bowl with its southern rim blurred by clouds of boiling sulphurous
vapours released from cracks in the crust with a whistle that seems
to emanate from deep within the earth; the rock is stained yellow
ochre and red by the fumes that condense into the most delicate
crystals while still hot. These are the so-called fumarole.
tour of the crater, taking about 30 minutes, permits an exploration
of the southern part of the island and, from the highest point,
to enjoy one of the most astonishing sights of all the archipelago.
beaches – Two of Vulcano’s beaches are nestled
near the main town. The sabbie nere (black beaches), so-called because
of its black colored sand of volcanic origin, stretches along a
fine bay that is, sadly, too crowded in summer; the beach of the
Fumarole is bathed by warm waters that are heated by bubbles of
sulphurous steam, able to reach a dangerous temperature (beware
of being scalded).
secluded and less frequented Gelso beach is on the opposite side
of the island, reachable by sea, by bus leaving from Porto di Levante
(check time schedule as services are highly restricted) or car,
driving the Provincial road Porto Levante to Vulcano Piano which
forks for Gelso and Capo Grillo).
to the Grotta del Cavallo and Piscina di Venere – Departures
by boat from the black beaches. The boat skirts around Vulcanello,
with its Valley of Monsters, before circumnavigating the most jagged
part of the coast on the way to this glorious grotto named after
the sea horses that once lived there. On the left is Venus’
pool, a shallow pool with clearest water, an idyllic place for an
unforgettable swim (those who wish to stay for a few hours can go
with one of the early boat trips, which run fairly regularly throughout
the day, and return on one of the later ones; check with the fisherman).
– Mud is one of Vulcano’s attractions. Leaving the port
on the right, behind a
of incredible colors ranging trhough every shade of yellow to red,
there is a natural pool containing sulphurous mud renowned for its
advices about mud therapy – Mud treatment is recommended for
people with rheumatic ailments and dermatological conditions (greasy
skin, acne, psoriasis). Not recommended for expectant mothers, people
suffering from tumour-related disease, or with fevers, heart conditions,
osteoporosis, gastro-intestinal upsets, uncompensated diabetes and
short immersions (never over 20 minutes) in the coolest hours, followed
by a hot shower. Do not apply to the eyes. In the event of mud getting
into the eyes, rinse liberally with fresh water. For any ailments
resulting from mud baths, consult a doctor.
Valle dei Mostri – On Vulcanello. A trip is especially
recommended at dawn or sunset, when
the evocative shapes of the rocks, caught by the sun’s rays,
are most impressive. The Valley of Monsters is the name given to
a downward slope of black sand, dotted here and there with blocks
of lava that have cooled into weird forms and provocative profiles
suggestive of prehistoric animals, monsters and wild beasts (including
a bear reared up on its hind legs and a crouching lion).
Grillo – some 10 km from Porto Levante. The local
road, leading to Vulcano Piano and beyond to the cape, offers fine
views of Lipari and the great crater and, from the promontory, across