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The Escape guide: The Aeolian Islands

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.

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Top 10 Greek islands

Don’t know your Skyros from your Symi? Ben Mallalieu brings you a beginner’s guide to 10 of the best Greek islands, whether you’re looking for a crowd-free cove or classical culture

People will tell you that the Greek islands are not what they were, but they’ve been saying that for a long time. In 1878, Edward Lear complained bitterly that Paleokastritsa in Corfu had been overrun by badly behaved English tourists, and Odysseus probably disapproved of all the new villas put up in his absence by the suitors. There are more than 150 inhabited Greek islands and fewer than 30 ever get seriously overcrowded. (Has anyone ever been to Agios Efstratos?) Even the busiest islands have places where you can escape the crowds, and sometimes the crowds can be fun. Here’s a selection in no particular order, some well known, some not.

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