An Italian Escape
Since I can recall, in my adult life, I have spent 2 weeks in Europe in the summers. And not because I live the oh-so-glamorous jet setter life – but because if I did not, I wouldn’t see my husband for a month. Victor’s work as a tech-house DJ places him in Europe, mostly Ibiza, for the 3-5 weeks during the high summer season. The swoony result of his occupation “hazard” is family trips to Europe – just us 3, our little family unit – exploring unknown lands, cultures, foods – we slow down, we connect so much deeper, we laugh ridiculous amounts, and set out on little discoveries – we absolutely LOVE it!
The Volcanic Rocky Coastline
Our last family adventure was to Sicily, where Victor’s family is from. We ventured to the astonishingly beautiful and extremely varied seven islands off the northern coast of Sicily, the Aeolian archipelago. Their volcanic origins left a dramatic legacy of black-sand beaches, smoldering volcanoes, steaming fumaroles and splintered, rocky coastlines making these tiny islands an unforgettable and truly hot destination.
The Cobolt Blue Tyrrhenian Sea
We settled upon the island of Salina, the greenest of the islands, famous for its starring role in the 1994 film Il Postino. In stark contrast to the exposed volcanic terrain of the other Aeolian Islands, Salina boasts a lush, verdant landscape. Besides its natural beauty, the island is renowned for the production of “capers” and “Malvasia”, a distinctive wine with a very sweet flavor derived from raisins.
The moment we arrived on the island we were overtaken by our senses – engulfed by the aroma of lemon trees hanging above our heads, fragrant jasmine gardens, prickly pear cactus spiking about and vibrant bougainvillea vines – everything surrounding you is full of fertile life and distinctly Sicilian – I have never seen such beauty before. Put simply, life just slows down in Italy but it is almost at a halt in Sicily in the most significant way – Laid back and super slow living – exactly what our family needed. The three of us decided not to get a car and discover the island on the indigo waters. We rented a small boat and each day from morning to sunset we meandered about little coves and explored the other islands. And so our adventure began…..
The Aeolian Island of Salina
Unique beauty, fascinating geophysical characteristics, great beaches, insane snorkeling, stunning views, mouthwatering cuisine and luscious sweet dessert wines… Despite all this, the Aeolian Islands remain surprisingly unspoiled! Salina feels remote and peaceful with a relaxed pace and dramatic beauty. The perfect escape to unwind where you are surrounded by the raw beauty of volcanic cliffs plunging into the cobolt sea that is further juxtaposed by the vibrant verdant green mountains.
Hotel Signum. We stayed in the tranquil village of Malfa on the northern side of the island. Hidden in the narrow maze like pathways filled will vibrant bouganvilla and overflowing fig trees was our home for the week. The charming boutique hotel is a family run oasis boasting a stunning infinity swimming pool and jasmine and citrus groves. The rooms are bright and airy, simply designed yet punctuated with a variety of antiques. The entire property is elegant yet rustic and refreshingly unpretentious.
Rent a boat and cruise around the Aeolian islands, discovering hidden pockets and coves along the coastline. In the port town Santa Marina Salina we rented a modest boat At Nautica Levante in lieu of a car. We cruised around the 7 islands pausing for dips in the indigo sea and snorkling. While island-hopping you will discover each island’s individual charms: from the spartan conical Alicudi, where donkeys are the only form of land transport, to the international jet-set playground of Panarea where we had lunch one afternoon.
Stromboli Volcano. This continuously active volcano is one of the few in the world where a visitor can see an eruption “up close and personal,” yet in relative safety — most of the time. In most conditions you can hike unaccompanied to an elevation of 400 meters, but beyond this level you will need a guide. A reliable guide service is Magmatrek. Strombolian eruptions are characterized by nearly continuous emission of blobs of lava shooting a small distance into the air as “fire fountains” It is truly magnificent!
In the waterfront village of Lingua you must indulge in a pane cunzato (a huge bread base topped with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella) followed by a refreshing fruit studded granita at the famous the Da Alfredo’s. Hotel Signum Solarium restaurant delivers dramatic views of Stromboli and Panarea. Each night we savored over the refined cuisine of Patron Michael and his daughter Martina Caruso whose dishes are Mediterranean at their core and walk a delicate balance of traditional yet innovative cuisine.
The Aeolians’ famous Malvasia wine, the vines of these sweet grapes cover the hills of Salina and the island is know for harvesting the wine. An Aperol Spritz! Undoubatly the most widespread apéritif’s in Sicily – vibrant, refreshing, and has a unique flavor of bitter herbs, rhubarb and an enticingly sweet orange flavor. We sipped on these crimson color apéritif’s nightly on the terrace of Hotel Signum as the sun was slipping into the sea.
Hotel Signum has an incredible spa to indulge your day away. Signum’s spa, Salus per Aquam, specializes in geothermic water treatments, and a particularly invigorating ice massage. Some treatments are conducted on a bed of thermal rose salt, others in a 19th-century copper tub. Facials and massages take inspiration from the luxuriant green surroundings, using almond milk, bitter orange and prickly pear to leave you smelling like a Grecian Goddess.
While in the seaside town of Linga be sure to purchase one of the products Salina is known for, the fat and juicy Capers. Capers are an essential ingredient to much of the local cooking. The Spa at Hotel Signum also sells the most lovely fragrances – in particular SIGNUM 25 Jasmine Night Perfume. The floral perfume brings me right back to evening on the terrace in Salina absorbing the soft waft of the night blooming flower.