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An Unforgettable Day in the Aeolian Islands, Sicily

Have I ever told you about the time I saw a volcano erupt?

That day started out normal. I was scouting in the Aeolian Islands, an archipelago off the northeast coast of Sicily. I spent that morning checking out a beach where rocky cliffs met sapphire blue waters.

The views were gorgeous, but it was late April and the water was still cold. It didn't matter–I was determined to take a dip in the sea!

lady wearing a blue dress looking over a view of a rocky beach in the aeolian islands

After defrosting in the Sicilian sun while munching an arancino, I went back to my apartment. It was easy to miss the old, beat up door that was the entry to my accommodations. I looked for the "For Sale" sign that had been there on my first visit, 5 years earlier.

old weathered door with an Italian for sale sign on it

Inside, my hosts had left me a surprise. Ripe nespole sitting on my windowsill, a fruit less eloquently known as a "loquat" in English. I love nespole, the juicy sweetness reminds me of a floral plum mixed with apricot or peach. Best finished off with an Italian "chef's kiss" for emphasis.

I devoured several, then closed my eyes to let the Italian sounds from the street below lull me to sleep. When I awoke, it was time to meet my friend, Luigi.

a close up of loquats on a table, Italian nespole

I had met Luigi on my first visit to the island of Salina in 2014. He hadn't shown up at the port when my ferry arrived, so I had walked into a shop and asked if anyone happened to know him. Within minutes someone had him on the phone. Gotta love those small town pleasures.

I remember even then, a solid 2 years before starting a career in the travel industry, Luigi's background had sparked my attention. He had been raised on that sweet little island, later becoming a biologist with a passion for boats which he expertly blended into "biocruises", taking visitors around the islands to explain the flora and fauna while revealing hidden splendors.

Finally, I was meeting up with Luigi to test one of these tours. But we wouldn't be looking at plants and animals–we would be looking at fire.

a happy woman on a boat headed for the island of Stromboli

Luigi's boat was a beauty and the ride to the nearby island of Stromboli felt so relaxing and liberating. I let my fingertips reach out and graze the salty water. I watched the light turn to Italy's revered golden hour and felt the gratitude wash over me.

As we approached Stromboli, I reminded myself that what I was really looking at was a volcano–one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Luigi explained that it has been active for the last 2,000-5,000 years, yet people still live there on that island (which, again, is actually an active volcano!).

a bright blue gate in front of a traditional home on the island of Stromboli