Stromboli Calling: Where Aeolus Blows and Vulcan Fumes
Bridges, Peter, The World and I
Peter Bridges is a freelance writer.
I woke in dimness in some moving place, then realized I was in our cabin on the Vittore Carpaccio southbound from Naples. Quickly I shaved and dressed. My wife, in the top berth, was pretending to be asleep. I said, "Stromboli's coming up," and went out on deck.
It was a clear spring dawn, and we were plowing through small waves. Ahead of us rose Stromboli's volcanic cone, smoking. A band of white at the water's edge was the village where we would make our first call in the Aeolian Islands.
I have enjoyed sailing around the Mediterranean since the 1960s, but though we once climbed Mount Vesuvius on an Easter morning with our children, we had never vacationed on volcanoes.
The Aeolian group comprises seven inhabited volcanic islands off Sicily's northern coast. They rose from the deep relatively recently; Stromboli, the youngest, formed 40,000 years ago. The Aeolians were settled by 4000 B.C., and in some centuries the islanders knew great prosperity. Homer said King Aeolus, who gave Odysseus a sack full of winds, lived in famous halls behind ramparts of bronze. We were planning to visit his citadel, on Lipari.
We had few recent reports, although we had seen the islands in Italian films. There were funny sequences from Alicudi and Stromboli in Dear Diary; Pablo Neruda's house in The Postman was supposed to be on Capri but actually was on the island of Salina, our destination this morning.
The Carpaccio drew up to the concrete quay at San Vincenzo on Stromboli, a small white town with a big church. The seas had been rough the week before, and the islands had been cut off from the world except for cellular phones, the Internet, and television. Now all was peace and sun. Three trucks were waiting on the quay to embark; seven or eight passengers disembarked; a quiet place.
Stromboli is about three miles in diameter. When the volcano erupts, the lava conveniently pours down a chute called the Sciara del Fuoco on the other side of the island. At least it has done so for some centuries. I had read of serious scares, notably the eruption of 1930, when the whole island shook, boiling mud flowed down to the edge of the village, and the island surface rose three feet. Six persons died, and many islanders emigrated to Australia.
Tourists started coming after Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid …
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Publication information: Article title: Stromboli Calling: Where Aeolus Blows and Vulcan Fumes. Contributors: Bridges, Peter - Author. Magazine title: The World and I. Volume: 19. Issue: 8 Publication date: August 2004. Page number: Not available. © 1999 News World Communications, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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