Salina is the second largest in the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands and is quite different in landscape than the rest of the islands. Due to its numerous fresh water springs, the island is quite green. The island is listed in the UNESCO world heritage list due to its volcanoes. The island is composed of six different volcanoes, and the two most important ones are Monte Fossa Delli Fecci and Monte dei Porri. Both of these volcanoes are quite well preserved. The island is made up of three small towns and some villages and the population of the entire town is approximately 4000.
As compared to some of the other islands in the archipelago, Salina is still quite untouched by tourism which makes it a special place to visit.
Attractions in Salina
Fossa Delle Felci
Fossa Delle Felci is the famous volcano for which Salina is listed in the world heritage list. The volcano is 962 meters high and visitors can climb up to the top or at least half way to enjoy the views of the surrounding areas and the beautiful sea. However, climbing up the volcano can be quite tiring and should be attempted by those who are fairly fit. Others can just come to the location and admire the beauty of the volcano from the foot of the mount.
Museo dell’Emigrazione Eoliana
Museo dell’Emigrazione Eoliana is probably the most interesting one among all of the islands in the archipelago. The museum showcases the effect and the extent of the immigration of the Aeolian Islands. The museum is quite small and the collection is also not very large, however, it is still worth a visit to get an insight into the background and the culture of the island.
Santuario Della Madonna Del Terzito
The Santuario Della Madonna Del Terzito is located in the valley that separates the two main volcanoes on the island. The place is an important pilgrimage place and every 15th august the Feast of Assumption is held here for which people from all the neighboring islands travel to Salina. The church is located on the track that leads up to the top of the mountain.
The Nature Reserve
The island is known to be the first island to have protected its environment with the help of a nature reserve. The island is very rich in natural vegetation and flora and fauna which is worth exploring.
There are several good hiking trails, marked and unmarked, on the island. Those interested in nature would definitely enjoy these hiking trails since the natural green landscape here is very lush and have some beautiful local species of trees and flowers which are worth exploring.
The beaches in Salina are quite clean and perfect for swimming. The beaches on the island are fairly deserted on weekdays. Only on weekends a few of the locals flock the beach in the summers. There are also a few diving spots close to the island which are good for exploring the sea life in this region.
Getting to Salina
Salina has two main ports, Rellina and Santa Marina. There are regular ferries and hydrofoils from destinations like Naples, Palermo, Messina, Reggio Calabria and Milazzo. Visitors can reach either of these destinations and take a hydrofoil to Salina. Ferries are only available from Milazzo and Naples. Regular buses are available that connect the towns and the villages on the island. Those coming in from other countries would have to book a flight for Naples or other Italian destination and then reach Milazzo and take a ferry from there.
Moving Around the Island
Depending on where you stay on the island the options to move around the area would differ. There are three main towns on the island, all of which are quite small and are easily accessible on foot. There aren’t many attractions so they can be explored on foot within a day. The public transport system on the island is buses. Buses connect all the villages and towns on the island and are fairly comfortable. Information on bus routes can be easily available in the bigger towns.
Stay and Accommodations
There are quite a lot of good hotels on the island and these are not very expensive, mainly because the island is still not a major tourist destination. There are both high ends as well as budget hotels. There are also a few Bed & Breakfasts on the island which are clean and comfortable. Mainly, the hotels here all provide good views of the sea and good food. Some good hotels to try while in Salina are Capo Faro, Hotel Bellavista, Hotel Ariana, Hotel Mercanti di Mare, Hotel Punta Scario, Hotel Signium and Pensione Mama Santina. The hotels can be booked in advance or after reaching the island.
Eating on Salina
Salina has good restaurants that serve simple home style cooking. Most restaurants here serve Italian cuisine and fresh sea food. There are also a few small cafes, bakeries that serve traditional pastries and pizzerias that have some delicious freshly baked pizzas. The best restaurants to try out in the city are Cuccinotta Rita, Porto Bello, Da Alfredo in Cucina. These restaurants generally serve simple pastas, fish dishes like swordfish, sea food platters, stuffed squids, freshly baked breads, pizzas and some really good hearty desserts and traditional pastries. The restaurants here mainly have simple but elegant décor and many provide views of the sea.
Shopping in Salina
Salina is not a tourist oriented place so the shops are where the locals do all their shopping. Some small but charming shopping streets are located in the three main towns of the city and sell beautiful hand made clothes, lace, cashmere sweaters, carved wooden artifacts, pottery, vases etc. Visitors might even come across a few antiques in the local markets which are put on sale by the locals. The other thing to purchase here would be local wines which are quite good and some cheeses.
It must be a very strong experience to go and visit the place your parents come from, when they moved so far away. And a pretty and isolated place like this one, even more. Has your father come back since he went to Australia or never?
Do you know Bongiorno was the name of a very popular Italian TV showman? Mike Bongiorno. He died a few years ago.
My family (BONGIORNO) originated hear (the town of Malfa) and migrated to Geelong, Australia in the early 1900’s. I was lucky enough to spend a week here in 2015 with my daughter. I just fell in love with the island and it was a voyage of discovery for us both. We found the old family home (now a ruin) on the Via Scalo and took many photos. I could see why my Father was like he was instantly and looking around Salina, I could “see” him everywhere. A very emotional trip for me. I hope to return one day in the not too distant future. A slice of heaven really!