The early morning sun shows today’s destination: Stromboli, one of the Liparic Islands. We expect black beaches, fire-spitting dragons and a walk up to the peak, while around 6:00 AM we only see a faint silhouette at the horizon.
The campground crew talked us into the early speed boat, departing from Milazzo at 7:30 AM. The next 4 hours prove them right: instead of aiming directly for Stromboli, the ship stops at each of the main islands and ports: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, … finally: Stromboli!
The first impression is a bright one. White cubical houses with blue ornaments and blossing decoration gather together in the populated part of the island. Narrow streets offer batik tissues, colourful tiles and a flair that ranges from Greek hicktowns to Hippie eras.
The villages Piscità, Eicogrande and S. Vicenzo stretch over mere 2 km, centered around the main church, main piazza and most famous (= least quality) restaurant. Right around the corner, we find our B&B “Aquilone” that welcomes us with a charming courtyard and friendly service. It is okay to share toilet and bathroom outside the room, especially as we only share it among us (all other rooms have bathrooms of their own). Later that afternoon, when we come to a rest in the garden chairs, we hear the vulcano (always in sight) humble and thunder. Somehow it is sort of comforting, like being greeted by ancient natural forces.
Lucky us that we took the early boat: the island is worth a stay of at least half a day. Just like foreseen (ordered, even), we stroll across black beaches, white houses and all kinds of delicious restaurants and bars. With the Fire Trek ahead of us, we buy pizza and arancini meant as victorious snack on the peak.
While waiting for our trek to start, we see a couple of other tourist groups: elderly Germans, being assured that oh no, they will not need to go up all the way to the vulcano, they may relax during a small guided tour and then have dinner at their hotel. Other groups head off for the vulcano hike, half of them with borrowed trekking shoes or amateur equipment. We get confident that we will make our way easily, when…