September 16 , 2001
Gaeta, Italy

September 3 , 2001
Stromboli: The Lighthouse Of The Mediterranean

August 26 , 2001
Cefalu: Another Medieval Jewel

August 23 , 2001
Sicily: Land of Lovely Desserts

August 15 , 2001
En Route to North Africa

August 10 , 2001

August 8, 2001
Supermarkets and Amphora

August 6 , 2001
Sailing South in Sardinia

August 2 , 2001
La Vie en Corsica

July 30, 2001
Jonathan Joins Us

July 27, 2001
One Sea, Seven Colors

July 24, 2001
Say What?

July 23, 2001
"Va Bene"

July 21, 2001
Venturing Into Italy

July 20, 2001
And The Mistral Blew

July 18, 2001
The Spell Of Menorca

July 12, 2001
Culture And Concerts

July 7, 2001
Cha Chas

July 6, 2001
Red Dust

July 4, 2001
Rare Birds

July 3, 2001
Clear Empty Water

June 27 , 2001
Quick Friends

June 22 , 2001

June 13, 2001
Eastern Hemisphere

June 6, 2001
A Weekend in Cartegena

May 30 , 2001
A Time Or A Place

May 29 , 2001
Several Lovely Sails

May 21 , 2001
Free At Last

May 25, 2001
On The Hard

May 18, 2001
A Boat Again

May 14, 2001
Time Warp to Morocco

May 03, 2001
Still On Stilts in Malaga

Stromboli: The Lighthouse Of The Mediterranean -

 September 3, 2001 

The Lipari Islands, off the north coast of Sicily, are also called the Aeolian Islands, named for Aeolus, the Greek god of wind, who gave Oddyseus a well tied bag containing all the contrary winds. Unfortunately, his crew opened the bag and released these winds. So it is they we blame for the weird weather in the Mediterranean Sea! The islands are volcanic in origin and Stromboli, in the northeast, is called the lighthouse of the Mediterranean as it has continuously erupted several times an hour for thousands of years, guiding sailors from Odysseus to people like us.

On Wednesday, August 31st, we climbed 3,036 foot Stromboli. We climbed in the dark to avoid the heat of the day and to be able to see the fireworks of the eruptions, which only show up after the sun sets. We started at 8 P.M. on a gentle zigzag path cut through cane fields. We arrived at the summit at 11:30 P.M., after a grueling climb which included scrambling hand over hand up large lava rocks and wading through soft, steep dunes of lava sand. Totally exhausted, we spread our sleeping bags out on the volcanic sand and rock of the trail, ten minutes walk from the summit. Several times every hour throughout the nite we were awakened by the thunderous roar as the volcano erupted. Invariably, we would sit up enough to look down at the vent on the peak below us where a huge spume of firey gas and rock were being flung into the air and then we would watch as the burning rocks rolle down the mountain towards the sea. At dawn, we awoke and walked the short distance to the summit to watch the sun rise and blot out the fireworks for another day. The descent was shorter down a steep trail of deep volcanic sand where we just dug in our heels and slipped and slid down, much like walking in drifted snow.

In retrospect the climb was absolutely spectacular and worth the sore muscles that still plague us. It was a fine farewell adventure for this season and for our departure from our German friend, Klaus, with whom we had been sailing in company since Menorca and who was our guide up the mountain. He is on his way to Greece, while we are now working our way up the mainland coast, having sailed from the Lipari Islands to the town of Vibo Valentia, just north of the Straits of Messina yesterday.

Our sailing season is almost over as we slowly head for mainland Italy, where we hope to leave the boat at the end of September, to return in the spring to explore more of Italy before the heat and crowds of the high tourist season.