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.
Dive on in
Flying into Catania, you’ll get a taste of Sicily’s glamorous side as you head towards the stunning cliff-top town of Taormina. Staying at the elegant Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea, you’ll spend the first three days diving in and out of the dreamy blue waters of the Bay of Mazzarò and enjoying picturesque views from Taormina’s clifftop amphitheatre. It’s the perfect place for an instant relaxation fix and will leave you ready and raring to go and explore more of this beautiful corner of the world.
Turn it up a few degrees
From this charming enclave, things will then start to heat up as you head further inland to Monaci Delle Terre Nere. Tucked away on the slopes of the active Mount Etna, it’s one explosive location. Tomorrow, you’ll get to know Europe’s highest volcano on a private jeep tour, taking in its continuously changing landscapes, lava flows and otherworldly fauna. 3,329 metres high and topped with an ever-changing smoking cap, it’s a unique experience which will see you take in surreal lunar landscapes.Read more
While staying right at the foot of an active volcano may seem fairly crazy, trust us, you’re in perfectly safe hands here – and the location certainly has its benefits. All that rich volcanic soil makes for perfect vineyard terrain and you’ll finish your exploration with a private wine tasting back at Monaci. Stroll through the estate vineyards with an expert sommelier and discover ancient winemaking traditions in this most picturesque of settings.
Now, for some serious relaxation, escape to the Isle of Salina: the greenest and most laid-back island. Stay at the stunning Capofaro and spend the next few days zipping around rugged hills on the back of a Vespa, meandering along its two extinct conical volcanoes, and kicking back at 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.
Sailing a la Sicilia
Tomorrow, you’ll discover more of the Aeolians as you sail away to Panarea and Stromboli, two of the most beautiful islands in the archipelago. Kick things off with a spot of snorkelling in Calajunco, before continuing onto the party-island of Panarea for a delicious lunch, perfect for people-watching. You’ll then sail across the water to Stromboli before hopping off to explore the narrow picturesque streets of Scari, where quiet houses hide the tiny inaccessible bays where Rossellini fell in love with Ingrid Bergman. Meander the ancient paths of Piscitá towards the island’s iconic craters and follow the Strombolian cane thicket trail to the Sciara. It’s the perfect spot for a breathtaking sunset as you sip on Sicilian wine and snack on Aeloian delicacies and watch the spectacular natural fireworks to a soundtrack of roaring eruptions. It truly is a sunset like no other. As the sun disappears and dusk sets in, you’ll head back down for anything from a romantic dinner to the perfect pizza – whatever you’re in the mood for. Sail back to Salina under the moonlight without a doubt in your mind that this is indeed the most beautiful place on earth.