Our adventure in Italy’s south—the mezzogiorno—with its palm-fringed bays, shimmering aquamarine seas, seaside villages, and mouth-watering cuisine, is framed by a sublime setting: the dramatic volcano-isles of Stromboli, Vulcano, Lipari, and tiny Panarea, as well as magnificent Mt. Etna. After a hike on the crater rim of Mt. Vesuvius and a visit to ancient Pompeii, we ferry to the Aeolian Islands, believed by the ancient Greeks to be the home of Aeolus, the king of the winds. Our hikes bring us to the summits of Stromboli and Vulcano (from which all volcanoes get their name), while coastal walks on Panarea and Lipari reward us with Roman ruins and vivid views of the blue Mediterranean. The surreal moonscapes of Mt. Etna (10,500'), dominating the Sicilian skyline, are the memorable backdrop for our final hikes. We end our journey in lovely Taormina, with its breathtaking panoramas of sea and sky.
We loved this trip and seeing the different types of volcanoes and experiencing the variety of southern Italy, especially through its cuisine. The hike up Stromboli was a special highlight. We fell in love with southern Italy, especially the Aeolian Islands.
— Jamey H., Newton, MA
Naples / Pompeii / Overnight Ferry
After gathering in Naples, we head to the archaeological site of Cumae, famed for its evocative Cave of the Cumean Sybil, a mysterious place of long, trapezoidal galleries cut out of solid rock. The next day we hike around the far rim of Mt. Vesuvius, with a look into the abyss of its volcanic caldera, then head to the fascinating remains of legendary Pompeii, engulfed—and preserved—by Vesuvius’ ash. We enjoy a delicious pizza dinner in the city in which it was born, then board the overnight ferry bound for Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands.
Stromboli Island / Panarea Island / Lipari Island
Our ferry arrives at dramatic Stromboli, a volcano-island that achieved its modern fame when Italian director Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman filmed Stromboli here in 1949. We take a sunset hike to the summit of its perfect cone—the ideal time to observe fiery displays against the night sky. Taking the hydrofoil to Panarea, we hike along the island’s rugged cliffs, then boat to the sublime island of Lipari.
Lipari / Vulcano
On Lipari we hike a spectacular coastal path to the old Roman thermal baths at San Calogero, with glorious views of Vulcano Island and other rock formations rising straight out of the blue Aeolian Sea. The next day we ferry to Vulcano, from which all volcanoes get their name, and hike to the top of the volcano itself.
Sicily / Mt. Etna Hike
Ferrying to the Sicilian mainland, we hike on the north face of Mt. Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. We view craters of the Monte Pizzillo area, which date from Etna’s 19th century explosion, then end our hike at the “Bocche del 2002,” the mouth of the huge lava flow of 2002. The following day we take a 4WD vehicle up to 9,000 feet, then hike to the summit at 10,500 feet. The views are incredible!
Alcantara Gorge / Taormina
At the base of Etna, we hike above the spectacular Alcantara Gorge, a 100-foot-deep lava flow that has been water-carved into fantastic formations to create an amazing natural wonder. Our relaxing grand finale finds us in enchanting Taormina. From the town’s spectacular Greek theater, Mt. Etna dominates a view little altered since the theater was built in the 3rd century BC. We depart via Catania on Day 11.