25 June 2009

Dream islands

Where, just a plane, coach then ferry journey from the UK, could you see dolphins, climb an active volcano, swim in the sea, enjoy a fine meal of local products and relax by a harbour sipping sweet wine.. all in the space of a day? The answer is the Aeolian Islands, an archipelago off the northern coast of Sicily, close to the 'toe' of Italy. From thermal mud-baths to sophisticated hotels, from traffic-free solitude to lively bars, from flowery footpaths to barren lava-slopes, the seven inhabited islands offer a whole range of holiday options. The peak summer season is busy but outside July and August you'll find affordable prices and plenty of peace and charm.

> Read our new feature on the Aeolian Islands

I visited the islands a couple of weeks ago on a long tour of southern Italy. More new destinations, travel tips and a journal will follow on Italy Heaven, as well as an extended section for the seven Aeolian Islands: Lipari, Stromboli, Vulcano, Panarea, Salina, Alicude and Filicudi.