The sizzling, sensational Stromboli volcano, an all-encompassing experience with senses erupting, deserves a post all on its own and to be first…
From Palma de Mallorca, western Mediterranean we set sail to Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island and then onto the islands surrounding Sicily. Fourteen days later we reached the sights of Stromboli Volcano.
Twenty kilometres away, while anchored far north of Panarea Island, Stromboli Volcano delighted with an eruption, a red glowing pillar shot up and up into the black moonless sky.
Welcome to Stromboli! My first live volcanic eruption.
With the heat unbearable, as though I’d woken alongside the molten lava, we set sail to Stromboli the following morning, to hike the erupting volcano. Not much wind, the yacht drifted along, gently bobbed along the perfect, flat sea.
At the closest, safest distance from the volcano, I jumped overboard and swam alongside the boat. The top of the volcano billowed smoke, as soft and white as cloud. The hairs on my arms stood as erect as spears, and it had nothing to do with the temperature of the water, a mere thirty degrees Celsius.
With the yacht safely moored to a buoy, we rode the dingy to shore and dug the anchor into the black sand beach. The place looked rough, as though the old fishing boats had been washed up on shore and forgotten, discarded, never to be loved again.
Equipped with spare clothing, water, snacks, a headlamp, safety helmet and of course my camera, Il Vulcano a Piedi expertly lead us to the top of Stromboli, nine-hundred-meters above sea level. A tough climb, which would have been exhausting if not for the eighteen others in the group. I had to muster all of my patience to not overtake and march rather than amble and plod, stopping for many breaks during the three hours that took us to reach the summit.
Through the town, up into the protected area of the mountain, lush and green, the panoramas of the boats at sea slowly disappeared, becoming miniature as we ascended. The vegetation moved way for dark rock, grey and black, winding up and up, steeper and steeper but slower and slower. Hundreds of groups were both in front of and behind us.
On the ledge below the uppermost ridge, we waited until the groups before us cleared, making room for the perfect spot to view the display of cavorting lava. Three-hundred meters away the rock began rumbling, ballooning white clouds of smoke. Almost gentle, teasing. A deep hissing followed by a red glow, the heat dispersing the smoke, burning through it. Come on! Burst with lava!
Eventually, we could move to the top, sit with our legs dangling over the ledge, a mere one-hundred-meters away from the most spectacular live show enveloping all of my senses. The anticipation so grande it made my limbs quiver.
Three small gaping mouths closest to where we sat, a breathless hush, spurted a few embers, spit, hiss. A deafening thunderous roar pursued, its voice incredibly powerful. A warning, surely.
And then the blast, the lava jettisoning straight up into the sky, sparks cascading, a waterfall of fire all around the ejection. Lasting for a few minutes it then settled around its mouth, balls of fire glowing, throbbing on the black rock, from red to blood-orange, finally settling down.
The smaller bursts came alive again before another grande explosion, the pillar of molten rock leaping into the air, making everyone ooh and ahh, screeching with delight.
At this point, we were given masks to protect our lungs from the potent gas and then speedily ushered down the dangerous side of the volcano where the potential rock slides prevailed. What fun! Such soft sand helped us glide, dance almost all of the way down to the bottom. Fortunately, because of the danger, we didn’t stop as often as during the ascent.
We reached the town just before midnight and discovered a pizzeria near the waterfront about to close. Taking one look at us covered in dust, the owner succumbed and happily allowed us to take out a quattro formaggi – the best-tasting pizza despite it being without tomato. A pizza without tomato sauce? Unforgivable! Resistance is futile when it comes to hunger and erupting excitement.
A video here www.stromboli_volcano and images below.