Salina, Italy: Where is it, when to go, what to see

Salina and Vulcano

Twin volcanoes, best liparian views, salt and sulfur

Itineraries / Sicily 15 Salina and Vulcano – Twin Volcanoes, Best Lipparian Views, Salt and Sulfur

If we follow the chronology of the itinerary carefully, there should have been two chapters dedicated to these two Liparian islands: around Salina and Lipari we sailed on Saturday as part of Da Massimo’s tour, and to Vulcano we sailed on our own on Sunday. I decided to combine the two stories into one and for these reasons.

First, from visiting both islands we were left with the maximum “understatement”. In other words, if we were to visit the Liparian Islands someday next time, the first thing we would have done would have been to Salina and Vulcano. Secondly, these two islands were completely different from each other, or should I say, they were complete opposites. Finally, thirdly, I just didn’t want to “stretch out” the fun and do two parts – so I did one.


After returning in the late afternoon from Stromboli we did not have much time to rest and get ready for the next excursion, which started at ten in the morning from the already well known Marina Corta Lipari. The same ship Armonia as the day before and the same crew, consisting of the captain and his assistant, were waiting for us, but the contingent was completely different.

Arch of Perciato (Perciato). Salina Island, Italy. 2015

If the two days before we were kept company, roughly speaking, by pensioners and foreign tourists, whose aims were mainly cognitive, which coincided very closely with ours, – the third day the ship was filled with Italian youth, planning exclusively to swim and have fun. To make matters worse, Massimo was once again “oversold,” and the boat was no longer “populated” by the usual twenty-five to thirty people, but by more than forty.

Salina Island. Italy, 2015

Salina was the second largest island in the archipelago, second only to Lipari, but it had a very distinctive appearance, consisting of two volcanic domes almost equal in size, close to each other. Such a peculiarity of relief simply could not be ignored by the ancient Greeks, who called the island “Didyme”, meaning “twins”.

Pollara. Salina Island, Italy. 2015

When exactly when the island got its modern name I have not been able to find out, so I will assume that it happened when the Romans began to mine salt on Salina. In fact, as “salt mining” and translated its present name Salina. The main attraction was the salt lake in the town of Lingua in the southeastern part of the island, where we made our only stop on the island.

Salt Lake in Lingua. Salina Island. Italy, 2015.

I doubt very much that the lake attracted crowds of tourists when salt production was still going on. When we arrived in Lingua, the appearance of the body of water discouraged us, to put it mildly. Nevertheless, we found something to occupy ourselves in such a difficult situation, “indulging in gluttony” at the local cafe Il Gambero with another Liparian gastronomic specialty, “pane cunzatu” (pane cunzatu).

Boats. Lingua. Salina Island, Italy. 2015

So it took us the first hour and a half to make three-quarters of a full circle along the Salina coast, stopping twice for a swim: at Capo Faro in the northeast and near Pollara in the northwest – where, incidentally, there was a very picturesque stone arch Perciato, something that reminded us of the Azure Window on Gozo. The second hour and a half we ate, perplexedly looked at the lake in Lingua and counted the minutes, dreaming of an early return to Lipari.

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In the end, we passed by several interesting facts about the island. First, the volcanoes that formed Salina were not two, but six. By the way, both Pollara Bay and Cape Faro, where we were swimming, were actually each formed by their own volcano. Secondly, Salina was the only island of the archipelago with fresh water sources, thanks to which agriculture was best developed on the island. Thirdly, because of the special climate on the so-called “saddle”, the junction of the two twin volcanoes, Salina grew grapes that produced some of the best malvasia.

On arriving at Marina Corta at half past four in the evening, we only had enough energy to get to the hotel and collapse “without falling asleep”: three consecutive days at sea and especially the last “swim” – exhausted us completely.

Vulcano .

Although we had a plan to visit the last of the islands – Vulcano, and a photographed ferry schedule of the day before was saved in the memory of a cell phone, we honestly admit that in the morning we did not want anything. After breakfast, we still forced ourselves to pull ourselves together and move into the center of Lipari. The nearest ferry started at 11:10, but just as we approached the ticket office, the tickets were bought – so we wouldn’t change our minds.

Regina dei Mari.

The main ferry season between Lipari and Vulcano was already over and although both Siremar and Ustica were selling tickets actively, the Regina dei Mari was running between the islands instead, apparently belonging to some third company and departing from some unmarked pier. Tickets cost us both 11.60 euros one way, travel time was a little over a quarter of an hour and, taking into account all the above observations, arriving at Vulcano, first thing we bought back tickets, for 16:40.

Ascent to the crater of Vulcano, Italy. 2015

With exactly five hours to spare, we finally cracked open the guidebook to figure out how to spend them properly. The island’s main attraction was a volcanic crater called the Gran Cratere with the highest point Fossa di Vulcano at 391 meters above sea level. The only way to get there was on foot along a dirt path winding down the western slope all the way to the bottom of the crater at 290 meters.

Ascent to the crater of Vulcano, Italy. 2015Ascent to the crater of Vulcano, Italy. 2015

Judging by the wooden signs, to climb to this height, it was necessary to overcome a distance of about 800 meters, but the higher we climbed, the more we began to doubt the correctness of the signs – the last two hundred meters seemed to us a half-kilometer distance. Nevertheless, instead of the hour promised by the guidebook, we “soared” to the lower southern point of the crater in less than forty minutes.

Large crater (Fossa di Vulcano). Vulcano, Italy. 2015

The highest was the northwest edge of the caldera and to overcome another hundred meters of height difference was possible either by going straight through the sulfur fumaroles, or bypassing two-thirds of the crater from the north. We chose the second option, thus deciding to make a complete circle and find ourselves at the sources of sulfuric fumaroles on the descent.

View from the top of the crater. Vulcano, Italy. 2015

What else is there to say? These were not just the best views on Vulcano, but on all the Liparian Islands, which from the top of the crater were visible as in the palm of my hand. The fact that we bypassed the fumaroles on the descent turned out to be a very good decision: jumping over the burning holes in the ground and holding our breath for half a minute was much more pleasant under the hill.

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Sera. Vulcano, Italy. 2015Sera. Vulcano, Italy. 2015

All in all it took us two and a half hours to go up, down and around the crater, and having the same amount of time, once in town, the first thing we decided to do was to have lunch. It did not take long to find a place to eat – it was a restaurant Cantine Stevenson. Still under the impression of what we saw, we increased it with the pleasure of food, but decided not to stop there. There were three more attractions on the island ahead of us.

Mud baths. Vulcano, Italy. 2015

The first was the mud baths (Laghetto di Fanghi), separated from the port by a twenty-meter rock. Admission cost two or three euros, depending on whether you had to use the shower and climb to the top of the cliff. We really decided to refrain from floundering in the mud and went to the adjacent to the baths beach, the sea which to our surprise was also hot – a meter deep and five or seven meters from the shore there were springs.

Mud baths. Vulcano, Italy. 2015Mud baths. Vulcano, Italy. 2015

The last point on the island was the beach of Sabbia Nera, five minutes walk west across the narrow isthmus that connects the main part of Vulcano with the area of Vulcanello, formed by the eruption of 183 BC.

Beach with hot water. Vulcano, Italy. 2015Sabbia Nera beach. Vulcano, Italy. 2015

Back at the port and taking the return ferry, we even regretted for a while that we didn’t have time to explore more than half of the island. Once on Lipari, we stopped at the supermarket, bought some bread, cheese and wine and spent the rest of the evening on the balcony of our hotel room.

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Salina is the second largest island in the Liparian archipelago, it is a world-renowned center of elite wine production, and capers have become another of the island’s calling cards. From a tourist point of view, the island is interesting first of all, a variety of natural attractions, its guests have the opportunity to walk through the picturesque tropical forests and see the beautiful vineyards. Historical monuments have been preserved on the island, which is also worth a visit to include in the tour program.

Salina was inhabited in antiquity, back in the Bronze Age. Scientists, who have excavated on the island, are sure that already in the fourth century B.C. the place of the modern capital, a small …

Salina is an island of volcanic origin, in its center there are two volcanoes, Monte Fossa delle Felci and Monte Porri. The first is 965 meters high and the second 860 meters, respectively, and the climbing of the lush green hills is very popular with travelers. From the tops of the volcanoes are good views not only of the surrounding area of Salina, but also of the nearby islands. It is also worth noting that the slopes of the volcanoes are covered with a fertile layer of soil, so the variety of plants present here is beyond counting.

In the southern part of the island is the picturesque town of Santa Marina, an attractive place for hiking and exploring the culture of the indigenous people. The main symbol of the town is the miniature salt lake, a unique natural object, which the locals have been using for many hundreds of years for their own benefit. The salt from the lake is regularly collected and then used to pickle capers grown on local plantations. In stores, travelers can buy miniature jars of capers, which will be the most symbolic memorable gift. It is believed that the unique salt lake gave its name to the island, and the salt was extracted from it during the reign of the Roman Empire. Proof of this are the ruins of Roman villas discovered near the lake, today everyone can stroll through the unique archaeological sites. Copyright

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Salina is sure to please hikers. Thanks to the small number of people and unspoiled nature, you can walk here alone for half a day, enjoying the interaction with the flora and fauna, and … Open

As for interesting historical sites to visit, the ancient Church of the Madonna del Terzito should be highlighted among them. It was completed in 1622 and was built on the foundations of a ruined Roman temple. It contains many interesting religious artefacts, including a statue of the island’s patron saint. History buffs will find it interesting to walk around the outskirts of Santa Marina, where ancient Roman tombs have been discovered. Some parts of the acropolis are now open to the public, attracting hundreds of curious tourists.

The most visited cultural institution on the island is the Ethnoanthropological Museum. It presents an extensive collection of exhibits on the cultural traditions of the indigenous population, as well as the diversity and peculiarities of the local nature. Salina is a real treasure for travelers who cannot imagine their holidays without beautiful scenery. On its territory is a huge number of interesting excursion routes, vacationers can visit the most beautiful vineyards and plantations of capers, as well as look at the old farms and wineries. Each local town boasts interesting architectural monuments and craft shops, miniature colorful markets and priceless historical symbols.

Among the undeniable advantages of the picturesque island is the presence of first-class hotels, one of the most popular and interesting is Hotel Ariana. It is housed in a spectacular early 20th century villa and is one of the finest … Discover

Travellers who decide to go on holiday to the picturesque island should consider a few important features. Salina has no airport or helipads of its own, as it is a small island with a difficult landscape. It can be reached only by sea, the ships to the island of Salina regularly depart from the coast of Sicily. There are no luxury hotels on the island either, despite the fact that more and more travelers visit it every year. There are only a few small hotels in the major cities, each of which can accommodate no more than 30 guests.

The alternative to hotels are the houses of local residents, many townspeople willingly rent their villas to tourists. There are very few comfortable beaches on the island, much of its coastline is covered with rocky formations. However, those small few beaches, which are on the island, differ with incredible beauty. Some of them are formed by basalt platforms, while others are covered with coarse black volcanic sand. Salina is sure to please scuba diving enthusiasts, not far from the shores of the island are many beautiful underwater grottos and caves.

Cultural attractions in Salina

Salina was inhabited in ancient times, as far back as the Bronze Age. Scientists, who conducted excavations on the island, believe that as early as the fourth century BC there was a settlement of Greek colonists on the site of the modern capital, the small town of Santa Marino. The island, by the way, was not called Salina by the Greeks, but Didim, which meant “twins”. Presumably, this name was a reflection of the Fossa delle Felci and Monte dei Porri volcanoes, visible from afar and quite similar.

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There was also an ancient town when the Romans took over the island. They gave it its modern name after the salt lake of Lingua, from which salt was extracted in large quantities and sent to different parts of the empire. Since the time of the Greeks and the Romans, the area has preserved a variety of architectural monuments, although many of them have been badly damaged by time. For example, on the slope of Fossa delle Felci there are still Roman villas, most of which can be visited by tourists.

Here and there you can see the ruins of Roman houses and baths. Periodically, wandering around the island, you will encounter a variety of almost completely destroyed structures, many of which stand here for almost two millennia. Alas, locals haven’t used most of the ancient monuments in any way, so the buildings dilapidated and fell into disrepair, losing the battle against the weather. Most often it is possible to identify ancient structures where archaeological research is carried out. This is mostly in the suburbs of Santa Marino.

In the 16th century, during the Spanish-French War, during the battles between the squadron of the Turkish Sultan Suleiman and the Spanish fleet, the island was completely depopulated. Constant raids by one side and the other ravaged the settlements, forcing the inhabitants to flee. Subsequently, Salina was repopulated, artificially resettling people from Sicily and Spain itself. Unfortunately it was not the first such devastation of the island and therefore by the 16th century the majority of the ancient monuments were simply destroyed and the buildings before that time in a more or less whole form on the island have not survived. More about the cultural attractions

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Salina is a favorite destination for hikers. Thanks to the small number of people and unspoiled nature, you can walk here alone for half a day, enjoying the interaction with the flora and fauna, and not meet a single person. There are plenty of walking routes, with well-maintained footpaths linking Santa Marino, all the local villages and the most interesting cultural and natural sites. So it’s just a matter of deciding on the length and difficulty of the hike and then setting out to discover the island’s natural beauty.

Even if you are not much of a hiker, it is worth climbing Monte Fossa delle Felci, an extinct volcano in the center of the island, whose summit is the highest point of Salina at 965 meters. Is it necessary to say that the view from here is magnificent? And when the weather is good, you can see not only Salina in great detail, but also neighboring islands. Many travelers also climb the neighboring Monte Porri, which is 860 meters high. The view from it is also very, very remarkable.

Avid botanists and plant lovers may be interested in the volcanic slopes. Even though the last eruption was 13 thousand years ago, the soil here still has not lost its properties. On the slopes of the extinct volcanoes grows a great many representatives of flora of the Mediterranean, including quite rare. In order to get to know the local nature, it is worth to go to other parts of the local national reserve. For example, the salt lake of Lingua, from which the locals still extract salt for pickling capers, which can be found here in any store.

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Due to the small number of tourists, the interesting terrain of the volcanic island and the high transparency of the water, Salina is often called a diver’s paradise. Here you can see a lot of Mediterranean underwater flora and fauna, but at the same time the divers come not enough to interfere with each other. If you wish, you can rent equipment on the spot. If you’ve never been diving and you have the desire, it’s worth taking a course at the local diving school in order to obtain an international license which allows you to dive anywhere in the world. More about Activities

Sightseeing in Salina for families with children

Salina is great for vacations with kids. Settled as far back as the Bronze Age, the island boasts ancient monuments, unspoilt nature and beautiful city streets. Children who are active and inquisitive and do not rely on all kinds of gadgets will like it here. There are no water parks, no large amusement parks, only small playgrounds next to the largest hotels. However, visiting Salina with children is quite comfortable. Perhaps it is due to the Italian mentality. Locals love kids. Both their own and other people’s. So, in the cafe for sure you will find a chair for kids, and in the stores of the mall, many vendors can entertain a baby with a specially stocked toy.

It may seem that Salina is a paradise for small children, but teenagers have no business here. This is not the case. For example, you can go on a hike to the top of the volcano Fossa delle Felci. Here, at 968 meters above sea level, is the highest point of the island. It offers a magnificent view not only of Salina, but also of the surrounding islands. What teenager does not want to visit such a place, and even take selfies to show off to his classmates? The neighboring, slightly lower, volcano, Monte dei Porri, also offers a good view.

Young botanists, by the way, will love the area around the sleeping giants. Thanks to the fertility of the volcanic lava on the slopes of Monte dei Porri and Fossa delle Felci, you can find a wide variety of plants, including some very rare ones. However, not only teenagers, but also children of all ages, will enjoy a walk on the island. Here the nature is almost untouched by human activity and strikes with its beauty. Kilometers of walking paths connect Santa Marina, the capital of the island, several villages and all the major cultural and natural attractions.

It is worth a visit to the local national reserve, which, among other things, includes the salt lake of Lingua. This natural site will certainly be of interest both toddlers with their exuberant imagination, and older children who know the basics of chemistry and biology. By the way, it was the salt lake that gave the island its modern name, which is inextricably linked with the Latin name for salt. So at Lingua, you can give your child a little excursion into Salina’s past. Young historians and inquisitive children will be attracted by the ruins of Roman villas on the slopes of the Fossa delle Felci.

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