FINDING PEACE IN THE AEOLIANs
The islands of Filicudi and Salina offer unparalleled tranquility—as does Stromboli, when you're not up on its famous volcano. Because the Aeolians are fairly difficult to get to, you may wish to make your visit there part of a broader Sicily or southern Italy itinerary. GETTING THERE
Fly in to Palermo Airport (PMO) or Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (CTA), connecting through Rome or another major European hub. Liberty Lines (eng.libertylines.it) operates ferries to all seven inhabited Aeolian Islands from Palermo and Malazzo, in northeastern Sicily. To get to Malazzo from Catania, about two hours away, prebook a car with Adige (autoserviziadige.it). Liberty Lines also operates interisland ferry service. In high season (June through late August), be sure to book ferry tickets online in advance, since the boats fill up. Service can be delayed or canceled because of rough weather or a strike.
Hotel La Canna (lacannahotel.it; doubles from €142), the island's best place to stay, has a good restaurant and a pool. Ask the front desk to arrange an excursion into the waters around Filicudi with a local; don't miss La Canna rock (trips from €29), a basalt tower rising from the sea that is said to possess magical powers. Villa La Rosa (villalarosa.it; mains €7–€29), up the path from the hotel, features chef Adelaide Rando's lasagna with wild fennel and an oval-shaped bar with a pink marble top that looks like it belongs in a Wes Anderson film.
I loved the quiet of Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia (capofaro.it; doubles from €527), a converted fishing village with the sea on one side and vineyards on the other. The hotel can organize tours of the other islands aboard a Hatteras yacht. Its restaurant (mains €31–€42) showcases produce from its gardens and a strong commitment to bread making. Da Alfredo (11 Via Vittoria Alfieri; mains €14–€20) serves Salina's most popular dish, pane cunzato, a round of grilled bread piled with salad-like toppings. Signum (hotelsignum.it; mains €43), housed in a fine Salina hotel of the same name, is the island's sole Michelin-starred restaurant.
Il Gabbiano Relais (ilgabbianostromboli.it; doubles from €287) has 11 apartmentstyle rooms, grocery delivery, and a shaded pool. At Trattoria Ai Gechi (12 Via Salina; mains €17– €36), dishes like pasta with smoked tuna, arugula and cherry tomatoes are as memorable as the colorful owner, Antonino Zaccone. Beach time on the black sands of Spiaggia Lunga is magical and mandatory. You can hike most of the way up the volcano yourself, but a guide is required to summit. Magmatrek (magmatrek.it; tours from €40) leads group hikes and can arrange private tours. Before leaving Stromboli, order all the deep-dish pizza you can carry from Panificio La Pagnotta (Via Soldato Francesco Natoli)—it's the perfect lunch for the hydrofoil back to Sicily.