Text by Photography: Finn Beales
Every 20 minutes, almost by the clock, Mount Stromboli erupts – giant orange sparks, like fireworks, followed by a plume of black volcanic ash rising into the sky. Most volcanoes don’t actually look like the ones you saw in books as a child – but this one does. Stromboli’s small, consistent shows have even given birth to a scientific term: Strombolian eruptions are rare bursts that repeat for a long time – more than 2,000 years in the case of Mt Stromboli.
Stromboli is one of the Aeolian islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, which the ancient Greeks believed were home to Aeolus, the god of winds. From time to time, they thought he would open a bag which contained all the winds of the world. The Romans simply called Stromboli the “lighthouse of the Mediterranean”.
According to photographer Finn Beales, who shot these images last summer after a three-hour hike up to the summit for sunset: “You get up there and it’s almost like a natural amphitheatre where you can stand and watch the show. It’s a mind-blowing sight, but the sound is almost more spectacular: it’s this guttural roar, proper Lord of the Rings stuff.”
Beales stayed at the Hotel Signum on the neighbouring island of Salina, the only Aeolian island with its own water supply. “The other islands are very volcanic but Salina is quite lush, with peaches on the trees and a semi-tropical feel,” he says. “The Signum is luxe, but in a very natural way: there’s beautiful food, fresh lemonade made with their own lemons and a volcanic spa with all these water baths. Plus, you can sit at the bar and watch Stromboli erupt; I have two young kids, and they were completely fascinated by it.”
It’s a 3km boat ride from Salina to Stromboli, an island which has two tiny villages around the base of the volcano, and it’s easy to find local guides to take you up the volcano and back down through ash fields. As Beales says: “It’s fairly simple to get there and get around, but the area’s not really set up for mass tourism. It feels like a total escape, and a pure adventure.”
You can reach Salina by ferry or hydrofoil from Sicily; Norwegian flies to Catania from Oslo and Copenhagen, and Palermo from Stockholm. Book flights, a hotel and a rental car at norwegian.com