Arriving directly from Stromboli, Salina immediately strikes as quite different. It is bigger, doesn't have an active volcano, and therefore is much more built up. My original plan was to hike the highest mountain of the island, one of its two extinct volcanoes, but instead I decide to first rent a bike. The lady of the rental agency tells me it doesn't have a lock, because "no one steals here. In fact, we don't lock our houses". There is one road which runs around the island, and I head to the west side. The road starts to climb even before I leave town, and I realise there will be a lot of climbing involved today. I round the northeast corner of the island, and am rewarded by great views along the coastline near the village of Malfa. I decide to first ride to the very end of the road on the northwestern side. Again, I need to climb a few kilometres, until I reach an outcrop which is a small pass. I take my bike to the lookout point, and when I reach the edge, know this must be one of the best views of the island. Deep below me, I see the village of Pollara, itself perched atop cliffs above the azure Tyrrhenian Sea. I see people bathing on rocks and swimming in water so clear I can see the rocks at the bottom. Further south, I see the side of the Monte dei Porri rise straight out of the sea: this is the second, slightly lower extinct volcano of Salina.
After descending to Pollara, I leave my bike at the car park, and walk the stairs down to the sea. The beach used for filming Il Postino is closed, so this is where people go. I see gates in the rocks, and imagine there are storage rooms behind them. Are they used for boats in winter? They somehow look very attractive, in the weirdly sculpted rocks. I walk the ledge on the rocks, where I find steps worn out, and find a quiet spot around the corner. A little further on, I see a natural arch in the see attached to the coast. After the effort of riding here on the bike, it is time to cool off, so I take off my clothes and dip in the deliciously cool water. The water is so clear, you can snorkel even without wearing a mask. I lie on the rocks to dry up, and in the back of my mind, I am preparing for the inevitable: I will need to cycle up the mountain again. When I finally do, I find my rhythm, and I am starting to like riding up mountains again: it is hard work, but also gives you satisfaction. I cycle back to Malfa, and turn right: several more kilometres of climbing takes me to Valdichiesa, and then I descend to Rinella on the southern coast of Salina. I cross the village, leave my bike at a parking, and walk to a beach of mostly black stones. I rest here, and know I will have another mountain to climb on my way back to Santa Marina Salina, the main town. I am getting hungry, but it is early Sunday evening, and of course, nothing is open here. I work my way up the mountain again, and ride back to the main town where I am just in time to buy something to eat and drink, before indulging on a very good meal.
When I wake up the next morning, it is still pitch dark. I walk the streets of Santa Marina Salina, with enough light to see where I am going. I take a street leading towards the mountain, and when I leave the last house behind, the asphalt gives away to sand and rocks, and I walk under trees, I take out my phone and switch on the light. I am hiking up the Monte Fossa delle Felci, and need to be back in time, because I am going to scuba dive at 9.30. Darkness slowly gives way to dawn, and I see the sea and nearby Lipari island in the hazy morning light. Then, I work my way up a trail that is relentlessly steep, through the woods, knowing one thing for a fact: every step I take brings me closer to the top of the mountain. Then, suddenly, I reach a building and antennas on top of rocks, and think I have reached the summit. But I find out I am not there yet, walk through the forest, and find a cross marking the highest point of Salina, at 962m. I take off my shirt which is dripping with sweat, and hang it in the morning sun while I walk around the summit of the Monte Fossa delle Felci. I see the other volcano, Monte dei Porri, and the zig-zag path leading to its summit, I see the road I cycled yesterday to the viewpoint above Pollara, and in the distance, I see Alicudi, my destination for the afternoon. I eat fruits, drink water, and head down in time to explore the volcanic underwater world of Salina.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Salina (Italy). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Salina. Read more about this site.