It’s my second day on the island of Stromboli, this evening I’ll be climbing to the volcanic craters to see the eruptions from up close. I’ve got most of the day to kill so I decide to go exploring.
This building is the visitor centre for the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, unfortunately it’s closed (it’s off-season) and won’t reopen for a few months.
Since I don’t fancy waiting until July, I walk down to the beach.
Being artistic on the beach, obviously the rocks here are volcanic so you end up with these very cool basaltic textures.
Today is also the best weather I’ve had since I arrived in Italy, the few clouds in the sky actually come from the volcano.
Around the corner of the island I found a ship anchored close to shore, its supplying Stromboli with water.
The volcano means the water on Stromboli isn’t fit for human consumption, so the island is reliant on these tankers for its fresh water supply.
Heading back inland I visit the Church of San Bartolomeo, I don’t have an exact date for the church – but its been around for a few hundred years. That’s impressive considering its survived numerous volcanic eruptions.
When I sat for lunch, I saw this helicopter landing in a compound opposite the restaurant. It kept collecting these pallets and flying off, then returning without them.
Turns out it’s flying fuel around the island, there are no roads between the main settlement and the village of Ginostra (there’s a big volcano in the way) – so fuel for motor vehicles is airlifted instead.
A typical street on Stromboli, no room for cars here – and there aren’t any.
Climb to the volcano
Ascent starts off in the late afternoon, Stromboli is over 3,000ft high so we’ve got a few hours of climbing to get near the top.
Since this is an active volcano, safety is important here: we’ve got a volcanologist guide with us, and everyone is carrying a helmet to protect from falling rocks – though we won’t need it until we approach the top.
After a couple of hours the trail gets steeper and rougher, the vegetation has all gone and the path is just a series of switchbacks heading up to the top.
Looking down from near the top. You can see why this isn’t an easy walk, it’s a challenging ascent, especially after the halfway mark where the trail becomes ash.
By now its been more than 3 hours since we started and the sun is beginning to set.
Settling down to watch the crater, we shouldn’t have long to wait – Stromboli has been erupting continuously for 2,000 years.
The Romans called it the ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’, at night it’s visible from far out to sea.
Four minutes later…
You can really feel the power of the volcano, every eruption causes the ground to shake like an earthquake.
After watching a few of these eruptions it gets darker, and we plan to move to the other side of the rim and get above the crater.
Getting up close, we’re only a few hundred meters from the eruptions now. They’re happening every 20 minutes or so and the anticipation is intense.
An hour later and its properly dark, even when it’s not erupting – it just bubbles and glows red.
After watching for a little longer we start our descent. It’s pitch black so I don’t manage to take any photos on the way down.
I do manage to roll over on a rock buried in the ash and sprain my ankle, it’s not bad but swells up the next day. Luckily I’m wearing proper boots, otherwise I’d likely have broken it.
I finally get back to the hotel at midnight and gratefully roll into bed, tomorrow I’m heading back to mainland Sicily.