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Stromboli

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Stromboli

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Stromboli is a very small Italian volcanic island in the Mediterranean Sea just north of Sicily. It is one of the Aeolian Islands.

The Stromboli Island from the sea with the (smaller) village Ginostra.

The island of Stromboli is little more than just the 900 m high volcano itself and thus has a very small size of only 12.6 square kilometres. Two kilometres northeast of Stromboli one can find its extremely small sister island Strombolicchio. Nobody lives there.


Understand

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.

Villages

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.

Get in

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 [1], Ustica Lines [2], and NGI [3] 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.

Get around

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.

See

  • 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.

Do

Most visitors to the island come to climb (or at least hike on) Stromboli Volcano. However, other opportunities for outdoor recreation exist.

Strombolian eruptions
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 themselves 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 2007, the volcano is in this more unstable, less scenic state following an explosive event in March, which is why the summit is closed to visitors.

  • 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 is 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 [4] with an office near the church, but there are other guide services in town that are also satisfactory. As of 2007, unaccompanied hiking is restricted to a lower elevation (roughly 250 meters), and the guides will only take you as far as the observation platform at the 400-meter mark. The rockfalls you'll see from this point will probably convince you that stopping here is a good idea. 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.
The small island Strombolicchio. It serves as a lighthouse.

Eat

  • La locanda del barbablu
  • Ristorante punta lena
  • il malandreno

Sleep

Various hotels exist and additionally many inhabitants of the villages rent rooms.

Camping is not permitted on the island.

Get out

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.