Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, the Aeolian Islands (also known as the Lipari Islands) are situated just above Sicily at the southern edge of the Tyrrhenian Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean 475 miles in length and 60 miles wide. Corsica and Sardinia to the northwest, Elba Island to the north, and the boot of Italy to the east make up its borders. The Aeolian archipelago – Lipari, Salina, Stromboli, Panarea, Filicudi, Alicudi, and Basiluzzo – is rugged, beautiful, and mostly undeveloped. Thirty nautical miles from Stromboli, the easternmost of the Aeolians, is the Calabria region of southern Italy and the picturesque harbor of Tropea, where the Moorings base is ideally located for the start of a Calabria sailing vacation. Sailors enjoying a more lengthy Calabria yacht charter can also visit Palermo, the capital of Sicily, and the Egadi Islands to the west of Sicily. Regardless of the itinerary, a fine blend of magnificent sailing, snorkeling in crystal clear water, scenic hiking trails, upscale dining, boutique shopping, and intriguing sightseeing in picturesque towns with roots dating back to ancient Greece and Rome is guaranteed to inspire fond memories for years to come.
A Calabria sailing vacation on Italy’s Tyrrhenian Sea is a cruise through a Mediterranean paradise. The passages between islands are mostly short, providing plenty of time to enjoy all the pleasures of sailing as well as for sojourns ashore to explore, sample the local cuisine, and to sit idly with a cocktail at a café to soak in the wonders of Italy’s southern coast. Gentle and warm summer winds from the northwest average between 8 and 12 knots. Land and sea breezes develop daily. In late afternoon, for example, more southerly winds can be expected. Spring and fall sailing is also quite pleasant. The tidal range is just one to two feet and therefore tidal currents are not a concern. Wind-driven currents, common in trade wind belts, are not an issue either. A Calabria yacht charter is well within the reach of sailors who have basic skills in coastal navigation. The beauty and unique character of these waters lures less experienced and veteran sailors alike to return time after time for more adventures. Summer temperatures range between 77°F and 90°F (25°C to 32°C).
Swimming and snorkeling at beautiful beaches along the shores of the rocky islands, scenic bays filled with local fishing craft, quiet waterfront towns where pink, white, and yellow homes and shops paint the steep slopes in a pleasing and timeless mosaic, these are among the charms that make a Calabria sailing vacation an exquisite experience. The Aeolian Islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea are known for the active volcano of Stromboli and for the hot springs, thermal baths, and rejuvenating mineral water, long renowned for its supposed healing power, of Vulcano and other nearby islands. And, of course, a Calabria yacht charter wouldn’t be complete without sightseeing in historic villages and savoring the local cuisine, some of the most delicious in the world. A wide variety of pleasures await sailors at every port of call. The getting there, white sails drawing in a balmy breeze, is at the heart of the adventure.
Stromboli’s Serra Vancori is the second largest active volcano in Europe next to the 11,000-foot Mt. Etna on Sicily’s eastern coast, rising 3,031 feet from a brilliant blue sea as a perfect triangle. The geological record indicates that it has been erupting continuously for roughly 2,000 years, not often in enormous blasts, but little by little. From sea and at island anchorages the smoke and steam rising from its summit is clearly visible by day, and by night the molten lava flowing slowly down the slopes glows red, like an ancient beacon. A guided tour of the volcano is a must during any Calabria sailing vacation. The island is home to two villages, clusters of white set against a black backdrop interspersed with green vegetation. There are restaurants and bars for dining or enjoying cocktails ashore, and spectacular black-sand beaches for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing.
A favorite vacation destination among Europe’s more discerning elite, Panarea packs plenty of cache into its 2.1 square miles and three villages. The magnificent beach of La Spiaggetta is a popular place for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. Walking the paths to explore the fumaroles at the northern tip of the island, where the volcanic hiss of steam issuing from the ground marks the presence of molten lava below the surface, is another engaging activity. Exploring the archaeological site of Punta Milazzese, a Bronze Age village, is intriguing. There’s a gorgeous anchorage nearby just to the east. But perhaps the greatest appeal of Panarea is its fine restaurants and nightclubs, sophisticated, chic, and always delightful.
About two nautical miles off Panarea is the giant rock outcrop of Basiluzzo. It’s emblematic of the many other similarly striking formations scattered throughout the Tyrrhenian Sea. Just over a third of a mile in length, the jagged, pointed spires rise 492 feet above the surface of the crystal clear water, so clear in fact that near the old Roman pier, the landing for access to the island, it’s possible to look down and see a submerged Roman dockyard. A path leads to the ancient ruins at the top of the island. The views extend to all horizons, presenting a breathtaking vista. The snorkeling is fantastic.
Snorkeling in the clear waters along vertical rock faces that plunge into the depths, in ocean caves, and off the beaches in the Aeolian Islands is an unforgettable experience because of the unique seafloor sculpted and shaped by millennia of volcanic activity. It’s possible to see the hot gasses bubble from openings in the bottom, white pumice sands, and twisted black basalt in strange forms amid the myriad species of colorful fish. Scuba aficionados will find many interesting sites as well, especially in the waters around Lipari and Vulcano. La Franata dell’Arcipelago is among them. It’s situated in a channel between Lipari and Vulcano, where the seafloor descends gradually to a plateau, then drops off abruptly to reveal a maze of volcanic rocks deposited during an ancient landslide. Local dive centers can arrange guided scuba tours for all skill levels.
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