Salina, Aeolian Islands
The Islands

Salty capers, sweet Malvasia wine and lush green landscapes

Aeolian Adventures

Welcome to Salina

Easily identified by its twin mountain peaks, Salina is the second largest and most verdant of all the islands thanks to its natural freshwater springs. The island is carpeted by over four hundred plant species. Taking its name from the Lingua lake from which salt was extracted, it is generally considered the most striking of the islands, with dramatic volcanic cliffs covered in dense yellow gorse that tower over pebbly beaches. Elsewhere, winding roads thread through a landscape dominated by olive groves, caper bushes and cacti, past tiny villages with pastel-hued houses shaded by citrus and fig trees.

Salina and Il Postino

The island found fame in the opening scene to the film Il Postino (1994) when the Bay of Pollara was the backdrop for the fishermen returning home at dawn. Situated in the north-west of Salina, the bay is generally considered one of the most picturesque on the Aeolian Islands. It is essentially a collapsed prehistoric crater, overlooked by fishermen’s houses that are carved out of the rock, overlooking sparklingly clear water.

Despite the success of the film, the island remains essentially unchanged. At its centre, the twin extinct volcanoes of Monte dei Porri (866m) and Monte Fossa delle Felci (962m), the highest peak in the archipelago, are excellent for hiking and provide spectacular views across the sea towards a smouldering Stromboli.

Towns and villages on Salina

The island’s main port is Santa Marina Salina which basically comprises two streets, a waterfront road and a long traffic-free main street with 19th century houses that have been converted to small shops selling basic food items, and a couple of stylish boutiques featuring items by local artists and artisans.  The nearby settlement of Lingua is home to the famous Da Alfredo’s beachfront bar, perfectly situated for a delicious homemade mulberry granita with a view to match.

In the north, Malfa is a peaceful village with atmospheric alleyways and lanes, and a small piazza with a simple church and bar. The village also has a tiny museum, the Museum of Emigration. The Bay of Pollara is on the west coast while the tiny port and black sand beach of Rinella, is on the island’s south coast.

Food and wine on Salina

The island is also well-known for its salty capers and sweet Malvasia wine. In 1890, phylloxera destroyed 90% of vines resulting in significant losses but as in much of Sicily, viticulture is now flourishing with exciting new developments taking place including the production of delicious dry Malvasia wines.

The island’s juicy wild capers are one of Italy’s great little gems and are exported to an international audience. Picked by hand, Salina capers last longer than most (up to 3 years) and play a starring role in the local cuisine, adding saltiness to fish dishes, pasta dishes and salad, originality in the form of a unique pesto sauce and even used in gelato.  Salt gathered from Lingua lake was traditionally used to preserve the island’s capers. In fact, Salina even hosts its own annual Caper Festival (La Festa di Capperi). Taking place during the first weekend in June, local restauranteurs and residents gather in the tiny square in Pollara to prepare a caper-infused feast and party the night away.

Getting to Salina

Salina can be reached by hydrofoil and ferry from Sicily (Milazzo, Messina and Palermo) with a journey time of around 1hr 40m from Milazzo and 3hr 15m from Palermo. During the summer months, there are also ferry crossings from Naples on the mainland.

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