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One of the highest volcanoes in Europe, though no one knows, Stromboli lies for the most part under the Tyrrhenian Sea. If you could empty the sea, you would admire the 2000 meters of its  volcanic structure. But only 926 of them are visible above the sea surface. A hidden giant, so. A giant who never sleeps.

Stromboli is also one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Its explosions are unique, in fact the similar phenomena of other volcanoes worldwide are named after them (“strombolian“). The volcano is the main character of the island of the same name. The people, there, live in two small villages: San Vincenzo and Ginostra. They both are part of the municipality of the island of Lipari.

Stromboli, the pawing volcano

stromboli giant01
strombolian explosions

Stromboli came out of the sea 160,000 years ago. Its craters were set south of the modern ones. Part of the volcano collapsed producing the plain on which today rises the village San Vincenzo. A second collapse of the northern flank produced the Sciara del Fuoco, the steep rocky slide on which the lava flows to the sea.

Since its birth, the volcano Stromboli never was quiet for too long. A “silent” period can be recorded at the beginning of the 20th century. Its explosions are continuous, with a 10 or 20 minutes break between one and the other. There are also rare “major explosions” (see video here). They happen when a huge gas bubble causes a powerful blast of the lava, which can be dangerous for the people as well. On the other hand, lava streams are not usual and they mainly fall into the sea, with no damage.

Living on Stromboli

The island of Stromboli owes a lot to its volcano. Thanks to the constant show of fire, tourism has become the first economic activity . The people, however, continue to live on fishing as well. Locals who do not own a boat run hotels, B & Bs or restaurants. The inhabitants are 600, but the number increases considerably in the summer.

The best way to get around are small vehicles, possibly two wheels. Ginostra is isolated from the nucleus of the village of San Vincenzo. To reach it you have to cross the whole island on the back of a mule or arrive directly by sea.

The people of Stromboli, paradoxically, never climb the volcano. They consider it as a kind of male divinity (“Iddu”, he) and do not dare to venture beyond a certain height threshold. More than anything else, they are seafarers who have harmony and love for the waves, not for the mountains. Some, however, are guides, and lead tourists to the top. Stromboli must be respected and loved, rightly feared. But hardly anyone here is really afraid of the volcano. The explosions that shake the houses and excite the tourists, for the Strombolans are just “whims of Iddu”.

Useful information

At Stromboli you can: swim, dive, hike and climb the volcano during the same holiday. In periods of calm it is also possible to stay overnight on the highest peak. It overlooks the craters, located 200 meters below. There are also many opportunities for entertainment in the evening at San Vincenzo.

Here you can also visit the Museum of Cinema, dedicated to the films that have been shot on the island. The museum is located in the house that hosted Ingrid Bergman and Rossellini during the filming of Stromboli Terra di Dio.

You can arrive on the island by hydrofoils and ferries that depart from Milazzo, but also from Messina and Naples. The main landing is San Vincenzo’s port. (photo by Grazia Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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