Ingrid Bergman may have brought film-set glamour to the Aeolian Islands but they remain an unpretentious paradise for the Italian jet set. We reveal what six of the islands have to offer in this stunning archipelago.
The northernmost and easternmost island of the archipelago, Stromboli emerges out of the blue like a single smoking breast of some oceanic behemoth submerged beneath. Its teat towers 926 metres above sea level, shooting magma and ash into the air for a few hundred more, and there are two further active craters. Its 500 permanent residents move about by Motorino, bici or mule: all with the same wild look in their eyes, that of people who live on the slopes of a rumbling, water-locked volcano. Its last major eruption was only seven years ago. But Stromboli’s magnificence is not all in its menace. While the uninhabited southern side of the island belches soot, blackened and dead, the northern part is verdant. Palms, cacti, caper bushes, wild fennel and bougainvillea flourish in its fecund soil, which is home to the sleepy, whitewashed villages of San Bartolo and San Vincenzo.
Things get conceived on Stromboli. It is here that Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman fell in love on set in 1949, and she became pregnant; where Dolce and Gabbana hole up for inspiration and Nicoletta Fiorucci hosts her month-long art symposium, Volcano Extravaganza, at La Lunatica. Don’t try to drop anchor – the sea floor falls to more than 2,000 metres. Dock at either Ficogrande or Scari to hike Stromboli’s slopes. But the best of the island is accessed only by yacht: the tiny village of Ginostra (population 30) set in a natural amphitheatre; the Sciara del Fuoco, a horseshoe-shaped depression caused by the collapse of the northwestern side of the cone 13,000 years ago; and Strombolicchio, two kilometres north east, a 45-metre-high basalt sea stack topped by a lighthouse fit for a Bond villain.
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