From Cefalu we took the train to Milazzo and then a taxi brought us to the Ferry Port. It was about 10 or 15 Euros for the taxi to the port and the driver explained to use Siramar. “Go to Siramar, not Ustica”. We appreciated the hint. With Ustica you pay more to get on the same ferry as was later explained to us by Francesco De Pasquale at Vulcano Blu Residence, where we stayed for 2 nights.
The train (Trenitalia) is very easy to use. At first we always waited in line to have a person help us buy the right ticket for the right train to the right destination. There are machines that are actually very easy to use and they give you the English option. If there are people waiting in line behind you to use the ticket machine (biglietteria automatica) you want to know what you are doing or they will snatch your credito carte and put it in properly. A bit unnerving but you learn.
The train from Cefalu to Milazzo took about an hour with lots of stops in between. I was amazed at the amount of solar panels, not only on roof tops but also they are used to cover huge green houses full of produce. These greens apparently need to be protected from the relentless Sicilian sun in summer and kept warm in winter; all the while collecting energy — ingenious really. The homes are stunning with gates, flowers and tiled carports. The towns have futbol fields and plantations of fruits and vegetables. The sea can be glimpsed often as the train rides along the northern coast of Sicily from town to town. I slowly but surely started to fall in love with Sicily on that train.
I was happy to find out Vulcano was the first island stop. I’ve decided I don’t like ferries. I didn’t like ferrying around Lake Como and I wasn’t too fond of this ferry either. I much prefer trains, taxis, horseback, burros, scooters and cars. Airline travel is my least favorite form of transportation, but, I like the speed.
I promised Tony that we would rest for one full day while in Vulcano. We would shop and eat and swim. He was very happy to hear that after walking from one end of Palermo to the other and up to La Rocca in Cefalu. Shortly after arrival to Vulcano we found out you could go up to the rim of the crater and peer in to it. It hadn’t blown since the 1800’s so it must be safe. A bucket list item that just couldn’t be missed. It would take a good 12 hours to convince Tony to climb up the Volcano with me. The best mealyet at Vincenzinos helped as did a delicious sleep, and a homemade breakfast of strong (albeit instant) coffee, fresh fruit, yogurt with granola for Tony and Granola with milk for me. By mid morning we were trekking up the side of the Volcano. My shoes were exceptionally inappropriate. (I came down barefoot)
So, so very glad we made the climb and carried on to the rim. It was imposing, gave you that “empress of the universe” feeling once you got there. We enjoyed some fresh squeezed orange juice near the bottom where a lady sold us water before the climb and looked at my shoes and shook her head then pointed to some walking sticks stating “necessario per voi, gratis” meaning –> necessary for you, free. I was really really glad I had those sticks. She was a smart lady and me — not so smart. I wish only smart people were rich. If I become rich I will find that lady and give her lots of money.
We walked back in to town and had a wonderful salad and brushetta at a tiny pizzeria. There was one other young couple, obviously in love enjoying their gigantic sandwiches. So much love everywhere we go, how can you not be enchanted in such a place? Then we wandered past the hot mud. Tony wanted to go in but I wanted nothing to do with it. It smelled of sulfur and as Francesco explained on the way in to town. Thousands of people for hundreds of years have been sitting in that mud, the idea is just unsanitary. We did go to the sea and find some fumaroles. They are areas in the sea where the Vulcano’s bubbling hot water escapes in to the sea. The water is crystal clear and the island is very proud of its water and its purity. Some of the mud bathers would rinse off in the sea which is frowned upon.
I was trying to find a place for a manicure and pedicure, but the place I found was booked up, as was the next place before we knew it we were almost back to Vulcano Blu. We just walked and found our ambrosial pool and watched the giant ship come in from some far away place. Francesco explained that the ship companies have to pay and wait their turn to come to the Vulcano port. Not all ships are allowed due to the stringent rules that maintain the purity of the waters around the Aeolian islands. The water is strikingly clear; a teal blue with areas of azure blue. Inconceivably beautiful water as we found out the next day while kayaking.
Eugenio we found while wandering the grounds of Vulcano Blu. He made you feel like you just ran in to a long lost relative. He was warm and delightful and gave us an intense but short class on kayaking in the sea. he owns the Sea Kayaking outpost on Vulcano and belongs to the Sports Association Canoe and Kayak Club of the Aeolian Islands based in Messina. He recently had surgery on his lumbar spine and the doctor told him to stay out of the water for a month. So his very capable friend Rosario who didn’t speak a word of English took us out for our 4 hour kayak around the base of the Island of Volcano. They gave us appropriate water shoes to wear and loaned me a surfer shirt so I wouldn’t burn. What a fabulous day! So glad we didn’t miss this opportunity before catching our ferry back to Milazzo and looking for our rental car. Let the photos speak for themselves…