If Italy is on your radar in 2019, will you consider trawling far south to the Aeolian Islands; an archipelago bordering the coastline of Sicily?
Have you even heard of the Aeolian Islands? If not, please read on.
Venturing down south in the height of the Italian summer, we visited the island of Salina – one of 7 islands of the Aeolian archipelago – for three exceptional days, experiencing first-hand the untouched beauty of this Sicilian gem.
You only need to spend a weekend on the island to know just how seductive, mesmerising and special Salina is – and why it has become a popular haven for those looking to escape the crowds of Capri and Amalfi.
Exploring all there is to do in Salina, here are our ‘must-do’s’ should you find yourself on the idyllic island of Salina.
Unless you’re an A-Grade celeb and can afford to chopper to and from the island, getting to Salina can prove quite tricky; but we promise, it’s well worth the wait.
Ideally, coming from Catania, Sicily is your best bet. A train to Milazzo will see you reach the port where a Hydrofoil will visit all seven of the Aeolian Islands.
But don’t expect the Hydrofoils to run on time; Italians in general are renowned to run on their own time with these matters.
Where to Stay
Accommodation in Salina is scarce. With a population of approximately 4,000 inhabitants, planning a stay in Salina should be done so in advance. With only a handful of boutique stays available, we found quite possibly one of the best boutique-driven hotels one can simply find.
Principe di Salina
Just a short drive from the port of Salina is the town of Malfa. It’s here that you will find a picturesque abode that encapsulates almost every photo you’ve googled or searched of this majestic island.
White walls entangled with bougainvillea shroud Principe di Salina, juxtaposed with its chic yet bohemian-inspired decor. Officially opened in 2017, Principe di Salina is the brainchild of Anita Motta who grew up holidaying in Salina.
Seeing a genuine gap in the market for quaint, boutique accommodation on the island, Motta designed the hotel to act as a home away from home; a notion rarely found when travelling.
As soon as you step into Principe di Salina, you are warmly greeted by 180 degree views of the island. Explore the three levels of the hotel to find different knick-knacks that make this stay truly memorable; a makeshift library encourages guests to swap books and the public lounge room offers a guests a place to meet and greet. If privacy is your thing, enjoy your very own day bed – poolside – as you sip on cocktails made in-house.
Guests are made to feel as if they have stepped into a house of an old friend, and it’s this ambiance that creates such a close bond to all of its guests.
Where to Eat
Da Alfredo – If there is one place that is a ‘must-visit’ whilst in Salina, then it’s Da Alfredo; an old-school waterfront cafe owned by the same family since 1968. Here it is where you will find quite possibly the best granita in all of Italy (Jamie Oliver concurs).
For a light Mediterranean lunch, you can’t go past the famous Pane Cunzato: an open-faced sandwich which is made by taking bread still warm from the oven, drizzled in home-made virgin olive oil, then topped with slices of fresh tomato, anchovies, capers, olives, red onion, basil and oregano. Delicious is an understatement!
Principe di Salina – As many have unfortunately experienced, hotel restaurants can prove quite the hit or miss at the best of times. In saying that, Principe di Salina offers one of the best home-cooked Italian meals one can simply ask for.
Prepared expertly by Motta’s mother, enjoy a communal dinner with the other guests and feast on the island’s local produce and delicacies. Seafood is caught fresh daily; capers are notorious from the island for its flavour and zest (and used as a main ingredient to many dishes); and pasta’s are made by hand.
If venturing around the island of Salina, another must-try is:
La Pinnata del Monsu – Located in the town of Malfa, this quaint restaurant spot is romantic to say the least. Feast on fresh seafood and Mediterranean / Sicilian delicacies, such as Caponata, tuna steaks and more, as you dine on an open terrace taking in a spectacular view of Salina and the neighbouring islands. Finish with a sweet dessert wine called Malvasia delle Lipari; renowned to the island.
What to Do
If you’re only visiting for a short time, it’s highly recommend that you hire a vespa or bike and venture around the island. This will only take you half a day (if that), but it gives you the ability to see all that this wonderful island has to offer.
Visiting Spiaggia di Pollara – located on the far side of the island – is a fantastic option for those looking to beat the heat in style. The dramatic coastline is reminiscent of a James Bond film, but funnily enough, also featured in the 1994 Italian classic ‘Il Postino’, which was filmed in Salina.
Though many of the beaches in Salina are rocky rather than sandy, the water is crystal clear and home to a wide variety of sea animals, plants, caves and submerged volcanic craters – all awaiting to be explored.
The town of Malfa, albeit small, has a strip of about 200 metres of small boutique stores where you are bound to find something unique to the island. From Italian linens, handcrafted jewellery and Salina tokens, there’s many items you can take home with you to remind you of your wonderful stay in Salina.
So, if you somehow find yourself down south in Italy, the island of Salina could not come more highly recommended. It’s a break away from the world; a chance to relax, dine well, drink well and embrace a true Sicilian gem.
Images taken on Olympus Pen-F