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Vulcan, abode of the gods - the island of fire

As I anticipated in the first post on the Aeolian Islands, I will attribute a color to each island, to Vulcano we will assign YELLOW and RED are the colors of sulfur and symbolically of the fire of the volcano. As soon as you arrive in Vulcano (50 minutes by hydrofoil from Milazzo), near the port, you will be amazed both by the beauty of the place and by the acrid smell of sulfur that permeates the air. The phenomenon, which you soon get used to, is due to the "fumaroles", high temperature exhalations of water vapour, sulfur and carbon dioxide which are released from the crater or from fissures in the ground. The fumaroles remind us that the volcano is always active. But before describing the places, I'll make a brief historical and mythological parenthesis that never hurts. Vulcano together with the other islands was a set of submarine volcanoes, which emerged from the waters about 700,000 years ago, Vulcano was the penultimate to re-emerge. The island of Vulcano has always been known since ancient times for its intense volcanic activity, but it never seems to have been inhabited until very recently. Greek mythology located on this island the forges of Hephaestus, god of fire and blacksmith who had the Cyclops as assistants. But it is the name that the Romans gave to the god, Vulcan, which was given to the island. And it is from here that the terms volcano and volcanism derive. Sparsely inhabited and with two opposite inlets, one open to the west and one to the east, the island often provided refuge for pirates from the Tyrrhenian Sea. A few decades before the last major eruption of 1888-90 when the crater ceased to be active, few farmers lived on the Piano, a very fertile area of the island where some areas are still cultivated and excellent cheeses are made. Mining exploitation for the extraction of sulfur was started as early as the Romans and continued in different periods. In the 19th century the island of Vulcano was granted by Ferdinand I, king of the Two Sicilies, to General Vito Nunziante for his merits in the wars against Napoleon, but then abandoned. In 1860 the island was taken over by the Scottish Stevenson who continued to exploit the mineral resources until 1888, when the last eruption of the volcano took place which destroyed all the equipment and forced him to abandon the company and the island. Although the last eruption took place in 1888 - 1890, the volcano has never ceased to demonstrate its vitality and different phenomena are still observed today: fumaroles, jets of steam both on the crest and underwater and the presence of sulphurous mud from the therapeutic properties. I go back to describing the island, the first temptation for the visitor is to climb the Volcano, the ascent to the "Fossa della Fucina" crater, which in less than an hour leads to the top at 391 meters, where the spectacle of the fumaroles with the emission of sulfur vapors which are deposited by sublimation in flower-shaped crystals, it softens the somewhat ghostly and almost infernal landscape that can be enjoyed up there; the panorama, which sweeps towards Lipari and the western islands of the archipelago, repays the effort of the ascent. I suggest you also explore the island from below. One of the things that could be done up until a few years ago was to dive into the centuries-old mud pool of Vulcano. The entrance is located about 200 meters from the port and was subject to a fee. Once inside, it was enough to remove the flip flops, dive in and look for the muddiest area to take some mud and sprinkle it on the body and face. The peculiarity was that once back home the smell of sulfur remained on the skin for days and days. Unfortunately I speak of it in the past tense because for two years now, for bureaucratic reasons, the muds have been closed to the public. I hope they are returned for their use as soon as possible. Instead, one thing that could definitely do is take a bath in the warm waters, which are located adjacent to the pool. The characteristic warm temperature is ensured by the fumaroles present under the stony mantle of the sea. Diving, you will notice the typical bubbles emerging from the water: don't worry, they don't burn! Obviously Vulcano is not only the port area. Among the absolutely must-see things, the typical rock formations of the Valle dei Mostri stand out. Located in the Vulcanello area, they date back to ancient lava flows. The recommended period for the visit is in the morning or in the evening, at sunset. And then I suggest you rent a scooter or a car to go and visit the upper part of the island: Vulcano Piano, Gelso, the Asino beach and the splendid view of Capo Grillo, where almost by magic you can see all and seven the Aeolian Islands. For those wishing to discover it from the sea, the ideal is to be taken by boat to go around the island and the transit of the canal with the wonderful stacks and the innumerable coves that meet along the way. As you will have understood it is necessary some time to enjoy the island and get to know it in all its beauties, many ask me for the best period, certainly the months of May-June and part of July and the month of September, I do not recommend the period of August, because you would end up not to appreciate the island. If you have the opportunity, visit it and you will not regret this choice.

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