OMG… just saw more than a dozen eruptions of Stromboli's volcano on our night boat tour!!! Incredible! Another wish-list item to tick off! It is one of the most continuously active volcanos in the world and an almost perfect cone. We had almost given up hope of seeing it as after garaging our car on mainland Sicily and catching a ferry to Lipari (the main island in the beautiful Aeolian Islands- Le Isole Eolie), we discovered we'd missed the season for volcano tours by one day and that all the tour companies close in November. Arrrg! So frustrating as the weather was still sunny and beautiful. We spent all morning checking all the tour companies but all shut. In the end, we went to the port to ask fishermen to take us out. A taxi man said he could organize a private boat for us but that we would have to pay the cost of the entire boat unless we could find others to split the price with us. There were only a handful of tourists about so then the hunt was on to fund some that would be interested. To make matters more pressured, we found out that there was bad whether forecast for that night and the ferries for the following 2 days were predicted to be cancelled. So if we didn't go today- we might not get another chance.
Luckily there was a couple in the room next door to us who were keen to join. Also- our hotel knew the random taxi man and could vouch that he was an honest guy. Phew! Somehow everything fell into place and a few hours later we were whizzing across the blue seas in the sunshine to Stromboli in a beautiful boat normally for 15-20 people. How decadent to have it all to ourselves! The weather was perfect and we passed beautiful islands- Vulcano smoking away impressively.
We arrived in Stromboli with an hour to explore the little town- black volcanic sand, colourful boats, steep mountains, white and blue houses covered in bouganvillia, twisty alleys and Moroccan-ish tiles. Felt a bit deserted but very pretty. Amazing that locals risk living here. We then re-boarded the boat at dusk to head out to see the "active side" of the island from the sea. We were the only boat out there. We were so lucky to see so many explosions with high spurts of red magma shooting into the sky. These would then fall onto the mountain side and glow like embers for a while. All very impressive against the black sky. Zoe and Zac a bit impatient with the 5-10 minute wait between eruptions but started a little chant "wake up volcano" in Italian which was cute.
By the end, Zoe became our own little Stomboli putting on a fiery tantrum that gave the volcano a run for its money. It had been a long day for her, poor poppet. Thankfully, she and Zac both fell asleep on the 1.5 hour trip "home". The trip home was also beautiful as, being a clear night, we got to see a star studded sky with eruptions of Stromboli in the distance.
We've now got the itch to get closer. Normally, there are treks up the mountain which would be fantastic. Obviously not for the little ones, but we could do it one at a time if we could find a guide to take us. Too amazing an experience to miss!