Stromboli is a fully active volcano that is in a constant state of mild activity, punctuated by occasional larger and more violent eruptions. The most recent violent eruption was a brief event in March 2007 that has caused the closure of the summit area; see infobox below for more details.
Though the "normal" small eruptions of lava are not dangerous, you should be aware of the possible danger. The local authorities are very aware of Stromboli's state, you should listen to them. If paths to the craters are closed, don't go there. Never climb up the volcano without a local guide. Don't leave paths.
Tours up the Stromboli aren't easy walks. You should be well-equipped, healthy and in good physical condition when going there.
As Stromboli is small and its environment is sensitive, you should treat it carefully.
Bring a flashlight (torchlight) along with you, as the streets are not illuminated.
There are two villages on the island, the larger Stromboli and the much smaller Ginostra, a former fishing village rarely visited by tourists (although tourist services are about all that remains there). It is not yet feasible to walk between the villages (although a trans-island hiking trail is under construction as of 2007), and the only way to travel between them is by boat. Together, both villages only have about 350 inhabitants.
An eruption viewed from the top. Note that it is more than 100m high.
Access is by boat, there being no place on the island to put an airport. The hydrofoil and ferry operators SIREMAR, Ustica Lines, and NGI all connect Stromboli village and Ginostra to other points in the Aeolian Islands and to Sicily and the mainland. You may have to change boats in Lipari. Don't even think of bringing a full-sized car with you, as you'll have no place to use it. Consequently, it's highly advantageous to ride the fast hydrofoil rather than a ferry.
Due to the size of the island and lacking streets, neither cars nor buses or trains exist. The only available means of transport are "ape-cars", small motorbikes and boats. The only other way to move around the island is by walking. Note that there are no streetlights in either village, and if you're out after dark, you'll be well advised to use a flashlight.
The villages, which are almost unchanged by tourism, are worth a closer look, especially the rather hidden Ginostra with the smallest European port (one boat only!) at all is nice to see.
There is a nice beach with fine black lava sand in Stromboli, where one can relax and swim in the sea.
Stromboli gives its name to a type of volcanic eruption that's frequent, visually spectacular, and fairly safe to approach -- most of the time. "Strombolian eruptions" are characterized by nearly continuous emission of blobs of lava shot a small distance into the air as "fire fountains" like the one shown in the accompanying image. They're seen to best advantage at night, and a camera capable of timed exposures of several seconds is required to get the most interesting photos. These eruptions are usually viewable in complete safety from the crater rim. However, every few years a more energetic eruption occurs, taking the form of either a lava flow down the Sciara del Fuoco (a collapse feature on the north side of the island) or brief but violent explosions from the summit that propel rocks beyond the crater, sometimes causing minor damage in Stromboli village or Ginostra. These events obviously are hazardous, and furthermore, for some months after a lava flow or explosive event, activity at the summit crater becomes more explosive -- and less scenic, as the magma column is well below the crater rim. As of June 2008, the volcano has settled down from the more unstable state that characterized it for much of 2007, but inquire locally about access anyway.
Most visitors to the island come to climb (or at least hike on) Stromboli Volcano. However, other opportunities for outdoor recreation exist.
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. However, conditions vary from year to year, and the summit region may be closed (as it was during spring-summer 2007) owing to unusual activity posing hazards to the climber. 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, Via Vittorio Emanuele, +39 090 9865768, , but there are other guide services in town that are also satisfactory. Don't climb without a guide; the access limitations are enforced (sporadically) and fines are substantial.
Take a boat ride around the island. The picturesque little village of Ginostra is on the opposite side of the island from Stromboli town and is only reachable by boat. Outfitters near the harbor in Stromboli town offer rides, which can usually be arranged on site.
Scuba diving is possible at the small island of Strombolicchio, offshore from Stromboli town. The water is very clear, and you can see the continuation of the volcanic plug comprising Strombolicchio far below the surface. Dry-land activities on Strombolicchio are generally not allowed as the island is a nature preserve. Lighthouse on top.
Pizzeria Punta Bronzo, Via Acquaro Antonino, +39 090 986013. At the foot of one of the trails to the 400-meter platform at the Sciara del Fuoco. Food is nothing special, but entirely serviceable, and the setting is highly atmospheric.
Trattoria Ai Gechi, Via Mirabito Giuseppe, +39 090 986213 (reservations recommended). Hours daily 7:30PM-2AM in August; daily 12:30-2:30PM and 7:30PM-2AM in all other months. Up a steep hill from the downtown area of Stromboli village. "Mediterranean" fare rather than mainstream Italian, ranging from very good to outright sensational depending on the mood of the owner/chef. The sepia-ink pasta is not to be missed, and some of the tuna dishes are extraordinary.
Trattoria Incontro, Via Petrusa Salvatore (in Ginostra, not Stromboli village), +39 090 9812305. You don't have a lot of choices in the remote fishing village of Ginostra, but fortunately, this, the primary one, is excellent for lunch.
La locanda del barbablu
Ristorante punta lena
Bar Ingrid, Via Cincotta Mario, +39 090 986083. If there's any place in Stromboli village that can be called "bustling," it's probably this open-air bar next to the large church. Gorgeous views out to sea, and adequate munchies to accompany your libations as you enjoy the view.
Hotel Villaggio Stromboli, Via Regina Elena (Stromboli village), +39 090 986018, . Open April-October. Rooms from €47, with seasonal variations. Comfortable accommodations overlooking the beach, west of the main part of the village but within easy walking distance of the town and dock. Luggage can be ported up from the dock by prior arrangement (small charge). Multilingual staff, which isn't automatic in the islands.
Various other hotels exist and additionally many inhabitants of the villages rent rooms.
Camping is not permitted on the island.
Hydrofoils run from Stromboli to the other Aeolian Islands, each of which has its own attractions. You may have to change boats in Lipari, largest and most populous of the Aeolian Islands, and the main transportation hub for the archipelago.
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