We visited the island of Vulcano as part of our first ever epic Italian tour. This would encompass Naples, Rome, Palermo, Aeolian Islands, Procida, Ischia, Capri, Pompei, Herculaneum and back to Naples and the account of the first part of the trip in Rome can be found here.
So Vulcano, how did we get there?
After leaving Rome we headed to Palermo on an overnight ferry which was an experience in itself. We booked our ferry through Direct Ferries and with it being our first time, chose the most competitive option which was a seat and after spending a rather uncomfortable night we said if we travelled again on an overnight ferry we’d choose a cabin option. However the journey itself was good. We left Rome at 8pm and arrived in Palermo at 8am the following morning.
Arriving in Palermo we immediately headed for the train station as we had a long journey by train to Milazzo on the other side of the island. From here we’d catch a ferry that would take us to our first Aeolian Island – Vulcano. For more details on the train and ferry to the islands see our bite sized guide to Italy here.
Where did we stay?
We prebooked a fabulous little hotel right at the base of the volcano of Vulcano. Hotel Aura was small, comfortable and offered a fabulous continental breakfast and guess what? It had a pool. There was a little church nearby and you could hear the soft ringing bells at different points of the day which was lovely. The price for our stay was around the £80 mark for a night, so super competitive and excellent value for money.
What did we do?
Surprisingly for a small island there’s quite a lot to do.
Climb the volcano – this was one of the best things we did on our trip, the smell of sulphur, the view into the crater and the views to the other islands were spectacular. Its not a steep nor arduous climb and the path is fairly wide and easy to follow with signposts guiding the way.
Hire a quad bike – we hired a quad bike and took a picnic to the other side of the island where we spent the afternoon on a deserted black sand beach. It was idyllic, well that was until a big gust of wind blew black sand all over our meats and cheeses, uh oh! You can hire a quad bike from a vendor quite close to the port area of Vulcano, Nolo Sprint da Luigi and it wasn’t expensive at all. He had other vehicles for hire, scooters, bikes etc. Cant exactly remember the price but so worth it to do a bit of exploring.
Visit the Vally of the Monsters – the most overrated attraction we’ve ever seen in our lives but you have to go and see for yourselves. The Vally of the monsters is a group of lava flows which have solidified into Godzilla like shapes. You have to use your imagination here but definitely worth the walk.
The mud baths – with the island being volcanic there is a delightful mud pool close to the centre of town that is very popular with locals and tourists alike. The mud has sulfuric properties which are said to be really good for you but you’ll need a peg for your nose as its a bit whiffy!
Where did we eat?
Vulcano has a few restaurants, snack bars, take aways to choose from. We were there towards the end of the season so they were all really quiet but the food was good. Here are a couple of places we tried and would recommend.
Ristorante Maurizio – this was the first restaurant we ate in when we arrived after travelling all day by train and the previous night in an uncomfortable chair on a ferry so we were exhausted. We did try the restaurant again as it was sooooo good. A bit special with some dishes that you’d find in a fine dining restaurant. Definitely worth a visit.
Geco Bar – this was our first stop of the evening for an aperitivo and the first time we tried that strange looking orange drink that we all now know as Aperol Spritz. A couple at the next table had them and I asked the waitress what they were and we’ve never looked back. Our aperitivo of choice was born.
Ristorante Il Castello di Vulcano – best pizza in town. We visited here twice. Once as a sit down meal and once as a take away, both times were fab. Traditional Italian trattoria food. Perfecto!
So where to next?
Vulcano was fantastic but our next stop was the neighbouring island of Lipari which was so close you could see from various points on Vulcano. There are several hydrofoils per day ferrying between the islands so we didn’t have to wait long and just bought our ticket at the quay side.
Lipari here we come !