Posted in Holiday Happiness

Day Trip to The Aeolian Islands

A day trip to the Aeolian islands is a great thing to do whilst visiting Italy. These are several islands of Volcanic origin are located off the northern coast of Sicily. Easily accessible from Sicily the islands can also be reached from the town of Tropea, south Italy. Several companies offer the trip within the town departing from the local harbour. If my memory serves me right we paid around €40 (slightly less for a child) for our day trip to three of the islands.

Boat in Tropea harbour
The boat in Tropea harbour

Departing early morning from the harbour in Tropea, the sun was glistening on the water whilst we excitedly boarded our boat for the day. There were several boats leaving from here but finding the tour we booked was easy as there were plenty of people around to guide you.

We were embarking on a 12 hour round trip to see three of the islands in total – Volcano, Lipari and Stromboli. I have to confess here that my memory is pretty sketchy with timings of this trip, as in can’t really remember how long we spent sailing to each place and how long we were there (this is why I’ve just bought a travel journal for future trips). I know we were quite a while reaching the Aeolian islands, well over an hour.

Leaving Tropea port
Tropea harbour as we left

As we left the port we were soon treated to a view of Tropea town. I wished at this Point I had taken my DSLR for some better shots. But I still managed to get a photo that captured just how magnificent it looks perched on the rocks of the Calabria coastline.

Tropea town from the water
View of Tropea from the water

Aeolian islands stop 1 – Volcano

First stop on our day trip to the Aeolian islands was Volcano, an island known for its sulphur and wild panorama. Volcanic activity here has been going on for thousands of years and as we got off the boat you could smell a strange smell of sulphur in the air.

We wandered along past a few little shops and restaurants until we reached the therapeutic mud baths and hot springs the islands famed for. Unfortunately you have to be over 16 I think they said to bathe in them. I have to be honest though I wasn’t really feeling it anyway so the fact my son is only 11 was a bonus. That said they are suppose to have many beneficial healing properties for skin conditions.

Therapeutic mud baths Volcano
People bathing in the mud baths

Aside from climbing the creator and a bit of wandering there wasn’t alot else to do. So we stopped for pizza before boarding the boat to our second destination.

Aeolian islands stop 2 – Lipari

Lipari is the largest and most populated of the Aeolian islands. It makes a great base if you want to visit all the islands in your own time. We arrived in a busy port with a lovely looking pastel seafront.

Arriving in Lipari on our day trip to the Aeolian islands
First glance at Lipari

We meandered up the winding streets admiring local art work displayed in the shops. I am always interested in independent artists when I travel, you can pick up some lovely art pieces to remind you of your trip. I bought a wall hanging made from washed up pottery pieces and driftwood found on the beach.

Local art work in Lipari
I bought the one in the top left corner

We soon stumbled across Lipari Cathedral, Known as Basilica Concattedrale di San Bartholomeo di Lapari in Itallian (a bit of a mouthful!) Located right in the heart of Lipari, the cathedral is the oldest and largest church on the islandIt stands proudly at the top of a large staircase. My son lazily waited mid way up protesting that he could see if very well from where he was ha ha!

Lipari Cathedral
Walking up the steps to Lipari Cathedral

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering some more. Lipari is a pretty town and as we were there the end of May it felt very laidback much like Tropea. I expect in July and August like most places it is much busier. Out of the three Aeolian islands we visited, Lipari was my favourite.

Wandering the streets of Lipari
Wandering in Lipari

Aeolian islands stop 3 – Stromboli

Back on the boat we headed to our third and final Aeolian islands of the day, Stromboli. Stromboli contains one of the three active volcanos in Italy. Most eruptions consisted of small gas explosions creating lava to run down the rim. For this reason night tours are popular in hope of seeing the lava glowing. It is said that Mount Stromboli has been in continuous eruptions for the past 2000 years.

Mount Stromboli from our boat
View of Stromboli from our boat

Stromboli has recently hit the news (a week ago) after it errupted sadly causing a fatality to a hiker. In a guided group it is possible to hike up the volcano. We were only there less than two hours so just had a short look about and some more pizza! (How I didn’t turn into a pizza on this trip I don’t know?!!)

There was just enough time for a few quick photos at the foot of the island before we boarded the boat for the trip back to Tropea. My son picked up a small piece of volcanic rock as a souvenir.

On Stromboli, just before leaving

Would you like to visit the Aeolian islands? We think a day trip was perfect. Have you visited one of the islands I haven’t? I would love to hear.

Next stop on my Italian travels will be Venice…. stay tuned 😉

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

A Week in Tropea

At the end of May I travelled to Italy for a week in Tropea. Tropea? Where’s that? A common response from many when I shared where I was going. Tropea is located in south Italy within the Calabria region and it was instagram that lead me to this destination. I follow many travel pages and Tropea just looked oh so dreamy but could it be as nice as Positano?

Getting to Tropea

With no flights from Manchester I had to fly from London Stanstead. Tropea can’t be that popular a destination for us Brit’s as there appears to be very few direct flights a week. I took a Ryanair flight to Lamezia Terme, a short bus ride to the station and finally a train to Tropea.

Where we stayed

With Tropea being a town there are very few options of places to stay with pools unless on the outskirts. However is a pool really necessary in a beach town? After initially booking a hotel just outside Tropea I had a last minute change of heart and decided to stay in a boutique hotel centrally located instead. Colomba D’Oro met all our needs, spacious rooms, modern whilst retaining an Itallian charm , a good selection at breakfast and friendly staff.

Instagram perfect?

In a world of editing apps, tweaking and filters would this seemingly picturesque place really live up to my expectations in real life? Well I have to confess that the first few days the weather was less than desirable. But as the grey clouds lifted and the sun shone down if you had dropped me off on Tropea beach and told me I was in the Caribbean I would probably of believed you. Clean golden sand and turquoise waters that needed no filter at all.

Tropea beach
Tropea beach from above

As if that wasn’t enough the backdrop was something else… the stunning majestic houses of Tropea perched right on the cliff edge. I tried to do some research on the buildings but struggled to find much information other than Tropea town dates back to Roman times.

The houses of Tropea
Houses of Tropea

Tropea town sits around 70 meters above sea level meaning you must descend down several steps to enjoy the beach. However before making your way down you are treated to this stunning view of the sanctuary of Santa Maria Dell’lsola. It Sits high upon a large rock outcrop with the Tyrrhenian Sea sparkling in the sunlight behind it. An iconic image for the town of Tropea – it’s picture perfect.

 Santa Maria dell’Isola
Santa Maria Dell’Isola

When to visit

We visited at the end of May which is deemed to be relatively quiet time. Apparently in the months of July and August it is extremely busy mostly with European travellers. The Italians in particular love to holiday here, I mean why would you not if this was on your doorstep?! May is a nice time to visit but you are dicing with the weather slightly. We had about four overcast days.

Wandering…

A week in Tropea was ample to explore this Italian town. We wandered down the cobblestone streets, explored the pretty alleyways and stumbled across little hidden squares. It is everything you would imagine Italy to be.

A week in Tropea wandering
I love to wander…

The buildings had a charming faded feel about them. Traces of the old town remain and we noticed some beautiful old architecture in amongst the new.

Beautiful architecture in Tropea

Watching the world go by

Tropea definitely has a laidback feel, nothing is done in a hurry. My son and I chilled out in restaurants, played card games and chatted without a piece of tech in sight which was a nice change. We noticed lots of elderly men sat around on benches through out the day and I learned they are referred to as ‘Noni’ – grandfathers. They looked like they didn’t have a care in the world – how wonderful.

‘Noni’ watching the world go by
Resting ‘Noni’ in Tropea

Just when we thought Tropea could surprise us no more we would stumble across another part. It might have been a town but venture just to the edge and you were reminded that indeed you were still in Italy with its lush greenery.

Red wine with a view
Cheers to that view!

Eating in Tropea

It seemed every corner we turned there was tables set out encouraging you to stop again for a glass of wine or some yummy Italian food. Eating in Tropea is very reasonable. You could pick up a freshly made pizza for less than ten euros.

Tropea restaurants hidden away
What a charming Italian restaurant

Lots of seafood dishes are on offer and not forgetting what Tropea is know for – it’s sweet red onions. There was no shortage of them to buy around the town.

Red onions of Tropea
Red onions of Tropea

What to do

There is no denying Tropea is not a place with tons to do but that is its charm. It’s a seaside town so if sun, sand, relaxing and dining sounds like a dream to you then pop Tropea on your bucket list. We spent our days mostly doing the above. So what else is there to do?

Well Tropea is on a main railway line so exploring in either direction would be an option. However nowhere in the surrounding area looked quite as charming as Tropea so we stayed put.

Bike riding

Bike riding in Tropea
Bike riding with the port behind

We did hire bikes to go exploring a bit further one day. Firstly we headed for the port but the hill it was at the bottom of made us decide to just stop mid way down as my son was moaning about having to ride back up!

As we rode out I enjoyed the scenery but we never made it as far as another town. I would have kept going but my son was not happy in the heat. That said Italian drivers are a little crazy! We had to be extra careful on the roads. I think in the height of summer this may not be a great idea when it’s busier.

Trips

There were a few trips available out of Tropea. Two of the most popular being a visit to campo vatico and the nearby Aeolian islands. Campo Vatico is essentially a beautiful beach and given we had already spent ample time at the beach we opted for the latter. We visited Stromboli, Lipari and Volcano, but more about this in next weeks blog post.

End of our week in Tropea

As our week in Tropea came to an end I was grateful I was lead to such a stunning destination through Instagram. I felt revived after a week of doing very little, however I was ready to go home. This is a destination perhaps to be enjoyed with your lover not a tween! My son who requires constant entertainment was bored quite often despite my attempts to make it fun. However the quality time did us both good and there is no denying that south Italy is truly beautiful.

Amazing sunsets in Tropea
No caption needed!

Have you visited Tropea or anywhere in the Calabria region? What did you think? If my blog post has inspired you to visit let me know…

Rachael 🙂 x

To book Colomba D’Oro hotel in Tropea