White-washed villages, honeysuckle-swathed paths and a phenomenal natural fireworks display: Sicily is our sizzling-hot secret. For a dose of barefoot island glamour, these stylish, rustic Aeolian Islands have an innocence about them which we can’t get enough of. And there’s one to suit every mood: the uber-glam island of Panarea, the charming island of Salina, and then there’s Stromboli, which blasts florescent lava into the sky every 20 minutes.
Crumbling grandeur in Palermo
Start in this unpolished gem of a city with its crumbling architecture, century-old churches, and vibrant eateries. Staying in the elegant Villa Igiea, you’ll get under the skin of this city with our expert guides, who’ll take you straight to the un-touristy nitty gritty: intriguing churches, historical boulevards and loud, colourful markets. For a spot of surfing, head to the sheltered bays of San Vito lo Capo, set below high-pointed limestone cliffs and a town with a deliciously Arabic flavour. What you’d expect? No. Utterly charming? Most definitely.Read more
Salina: “the green island”
Now, for some serious relaxation, escape to the isle of Salina: the greenest and most laid-back island. Stay in the stunning Capo Faro, zip around rugged hills on the back of a Vespa, meander along its two extinct conical volcanoes, and head for the beautiful bay of Rinella with its black sands and pink, white and blue houses. Total bliss. Hungry? The capers here are an absolute must, and you should also try the fresh fish and sugary Malvasia dessert.
Panarea: “the jet-set island”
Up for a party? Your next stop is Panarea, nicknamed “la dolce” (the sweet one). It’s the most exclusive island, buzzing with chic bars and restaurants with an effortlessly cool, rustic vibe. The port of San Pietro has white washed houses surrounded by hot-pink bougainvillea and fragrant lime trees, where you’ll stay at the strikingly sexy Raya Hotel. Here you’re a short walk from Panarea’s other sweet spot: spectacular, secluded sun-kissed coves.
Stromboli: “the volcano island”
And finally it’s off by ferry (or helicopter, if Panarea has rubbed off on you) to the fiery shores of Stromboli, where you’ll stay in a classic hotel with sea views. This tipi-shaped island is home to Europe’s most active volcano, which is where the magic happens. Take a sunset boat ride, and when the engine is cut at dusk you’ll hear the roaring eruptions and witness the spectacular natural fireworks. Think burning molten geyser-type blasts. To get even closer, climb to the crater’s mouth by night for the best view of these unique explosions. Truly phenomenal.