Amanda and Toms in the Aeolian Islands (Sicily) in April 2009.
Comments and recommendations:
If you plan on hiking, buy a good, recent map beforehand. All of the maps we found in local stores were outdated, which makes for frustrating hiking. In general, trails are not well-marked. That said, the islands are small enough that it’s impossible to really lose your bearings. But do bring water with you, because these islands (except for Salina) do not have public fountains along roads and trails.
Busses and ferries run on time. Be aware of ferry schedules, though, and plan your days around them, because at least in the off season the ferries are not all that frequent.
We stayed at the B&B “Diana Brown” — very nice, simple rooms with great prices in the off season, located in the central part of Lipari town. Also, Diana serves a breakfast that northern Europeans can appreciate, meaning that you get real bread, yogurt, fruit, etc.[/lang_en]
The Kasbah restaurant on Via Maurolico in Lipari town has wonderful food, and despite the slightly pretentious wait staff the prices are very reasonable. Another find was the small La Cambusa restaurant on Via Garibaldi. If you’re flexible with your choices (just ask the waiter what’s available, instead of getting your hopes up by reading the menu), it’s a great place for a quiet lunch or dinner. The owner/waiter is very sweet, and the cannoli dessert is worth a return trip to the restaurant, too.
The museum up on the Lipari fortress is huge and fascinating for archaeology buffs. The vucanology section is also large and extremely thorough, although unfortunately only a small part of it has been translated into English.
The Aeolians are a surprisingly friendly people, and the islands are an entity of their own, distinct from Sicily and mainland Italy.
A general comment on Italy: stay away in August, when the Italians themselves go on vacation. Spring and early summer are ideal — the weather is cooler, the landscape is greener, and the prices are lower.