Smouldering volcanoes, bubbling mud baths and steaming fumaroles make these tiny islands north of Sicily a truly hot destination. This extract from Time Out’s new Italy guide reveals the best places to eat, sleep and play
Astonishingly beautiful and extremely varied, the seven islands and various uninhabited islets of the Aeolian archipelago were designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000. Their volcanic origins left a dramatic legacy of black-sand beaches, smouldering craters and splintered, rocky coastlines. Island-hoppers can discover their individual charms: from the spartan conical Alicudi, where donkeys are the only form of land transport, to the international jet-set playground of Panarea.
North of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the archipelago was named after Aeolus, god of the winds, by Greek settlers. This has been a volatile part of the world ever since Filicudi, the first land mass, emerged from the sea 600,000 years ago. There are two active volcanoes, Stromboli and Vulcano, and volcanic activity of some kind, whether steaming fumaroles or thermal waters waiting to be tapped, on most of the other islands. Winter storms see the islands cut off for days.