If you arrive on Stromboli by boat, don’t bother looking for anchorage: the volcanic core glowering above you shelves down to the depths. In antiquity this was supposed to be the home of Aeolus, god of the winds, who gave his name to the islands.
After big explosions and the collapse of the economy, many islanders emigrated. Those who stayed were reduced to the sort of abject poverty that attracted Rossellini in the 1950s. More recently, it has become the island of choice for a select crowd that includes the designers Dolce and Gabbana.
The main attraction remains the volcano, and it used to be possible to climb to the summit and look down at the massive jets of lava shooting like gigantic fireworks from the core.
But since the volcano blew its top you are not allowed to climb high enough to see much of interest. There are evening excursions on board one of several boats from where you can see the show. Stromboli has two landings. Ginostra has the better harbour but is on the ‘far’ side of the island and can only be reached by boat.
With less than 30 inhabitants and no electricity, staying here provides a good opportunity to consider the meaning of the word ‘remote’. Scari, on the north-east coast, is more connected, linked by road to the island’s main village of San Vincenzo, a sleepy place of whitewashed houses, narrow lanes and bougainvillaea.
Another road leads along the north coast to the small settlements, best beaches and good restaurants and shops at Ficogrande and Piscità.