Aeolian Islands: Weekend in Filicudi

 

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Before coming to Sicily I knew there might be an opportunity to go to one of the Aeolian Islands with some of Giulio’s friends. He told me not to put anything in my heart because it may not be a sure thing. To my surprise he booked the tickets for the hotel and the boat without telling me. I could not be more excited.

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When the day finally came for our departure, I’d only been in Sicily for about a week and had just taken a trip to Palermo the weekend before. I also didn’t really know Giulio’s friends that well so I was a bit nervous to try to impress them and be myself as much as possible. We met at the Milazzo terminal to take the 4 hour ferry to Filicudi. There are many great Aeolian islands to choose from, with Vulcano and Lipari being the most popular. Filicudi by contrast is more remote and brings less tourists.

Every year Giulio’s friends try to go to a different Island and this year it was Filicudi. When we arrived we were worried we wouldn’t find our hotel. Well, it turns out that our hotel is literally in front of the dock where the ferry ports. Because the island is so small, there aren’t many hotels and options. That makes this vacation a bit pricey. With 200 Euros a night Hotel Phenicusa, named after the original ancient greek name of the island, also includes dinner and breakfast. This was great because there are not many restaurant choices around, and the ones that are are pretty expensive.

My first impression of the island was the clear blue sea. I couldn’t wait to jump in! The water was warm and filled with fish. It’s definitely a place to bring an underwater camera.

For our first adventure we rented scooters to go around the island. Each couple had their own scooter with the male driving and the female on the back. That is, except mine. Giulio has never driven a scooter in his life, but lucky for him I have a motorcycle license and used to ride sports bikes. I’ve never driven a scooter, but I’d imagine it would be easy since it doesn’t need to switch gears.

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While the other two got 75-125cc we were stuck with 50cc…. Which, in the mountains carrying all the weight seemed impossible. I tried my best to keep up with the others while we made our way up the mountain. We were headed to the top cliff to see the sunset on the opposite side of the island. From this viewpoint you see the 75Meter tall volcanic rock formation called La Canna. Here you can also see a rock formation that has the shape of the head of a horse, named for obvious reasons, Il Cavallo. But most importantly you can enjoy the wonderful colors of the sunset and even spark a romantic flame.

We continued on scooter to a different part of the island called Saloon di Pecorini Mare. This part is famous for its aperitivo. The whole time I was wondering where all the people on the island were hiding only to find them all here. Giulio even found one of his friends, who lives outside of Italy, sitting by the table of fried foods being sold.

The world keeps getting smaller. After a drink and some Arancinis, I pushed everyone to start heading back to the hotel. I didn’t want to be driving around all these winding mountains in the dark. There are no lights on the streets, so you have to rely on your own wit and high beams to get around. The road is also nearly all sand and gravel with just enough space for a car and a half. By the time we made it back to the hotel I nearly had heart attack from that high-adrenaline adventure.

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For dinner at the hotel we were served 4 courses, as usual in Italy. On Filicudi it’s the smarter option to always order fish when it’s available. It’s an island, so the seafood is fresh and the meat comes from somewhere else. Also, the fish tastes amazing, so why choose anything else?! I have to say that the hotel food was surprisingly good. I enjoyed all courses every time.

The next day we reserved a small boat to go around the island. Since the others knew I wasn’t a fan of taking too much sun, they got a boat with a little cover. We ventured around enjoying the water splashing around us. We were searching for one of the popular spots for snorkeling called The Grottoes. 

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These are small cavern looking entrances in the rock around the island. Many people had already set up their boats in these areas so we decided to set anchor a few meters away.

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Our first swim spot was filled with fish and was shallow enough to swim to the edge where the sand was. My friends took a liking to my underwater camera and spent at least an hour playing with it, hence the reason why I made a slideshow (there are over 200 photos, these are just a few).

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After seeing a few jellyfish in the distance, and trash floating about, we decided to move on. The next spot was within the area of La Canna. Circling around it were lavish yachts, sailboats, and a few boats like ours. This spot for swimming was 10 times better than the last. We were in deeper water and could see Sea Urchins, bigger fish, and small bubbles coming up from below caused by the volcano.

After we were all tired of swimming we circled around the rest of the island and headed back to the hotel. We started to walk towards the Neolithic village, but ended up being too tired. Which, oh by the way, there is a Neolithic Village 10 minutes from the dock. There’s also a museum just next to the restaurants near our hotel so I settled on seeing that. It smelled pretty terrible, and a lot of the things inside didn’t look so old, but there were a few ancient looking things like a giant stone wheel.

While there isn’t much to see on this small island, if you’re looking to just disappear for a while and relax by the beautiful shimmering sea, Filicudi is the Aeolian island for you.

Special shout out to Claudia and Simone for inviting me along on this vacation, without them it wouldn’t have been possible!

 

 

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