As promised, this year I’m using the Amocean blog not only to tell about oceans and climate, but also to let you participate in my travels. I’m well into my first trip now and spend already 10 days on the amazing island of Stromboli. It’s a small Italian island just north of Sicily, part of the the Eolian islands. What makes this island special is its volcano: for about 3000 years, this volcano erupts in average every 10-20 minutes! It is the only permanently active volcano in all Europe.
But the eruptions are usually not big ones which leave trails of glowing and flowing lava. The Stromboli (locally called Idu, the mother) throws lava and rocks 100 m straight up in the air and usually everything falls just back into the crater. Sometimes, there are lava flows running down the fire slide (Sciara del fuoco). The last time in 2014. Currently there is just some fume coming out of a fissure on the volcanic flank somewhat below the active crater and obviously the periodic eruption within the crater, which cannot be seen from the Sciara del Fuocco side this far down. But still, the colors ranging from bluish black to brown and reds along the Sciara are beautiful, even without fresh, glowing lava.
The Eolian islands were settled many thousand years ago, because of their mild climate and fertile soil. Though Stromboli was only used as an agricultural colony of Lipari, with human inhabitants just during seeding and harvest. In the 16th century finally a permanent village and later town was established, sustained by agriculture and fishing. During its high days in the 18th century the island had 4000 permanent inhabitant and was running a fleet of trade ships between Naples and Sicily. The construction railroad construction along the mainland coast ended that period, Stromboli became a farming and fishing place once again. At the beginning of the 20th century, crops failed due to some pest, people started to abandon the island. When in 1930 a massive eruption happened, accompanied by earthquakes and a devastating tsunami, most people left. Only after the Bergman / Rossellini movie “Stromboli” of 1949 the tourism industry discovered the beautiful volcano in the Mediterranean and since then tourism flourishes. In summer, up to 10.000 guests are on the island at any given time, while in winter it is only populated by less than 600 permanent residents plus a handful of tourists – like me.
The terraces, used over centuries to grow olives, wine, figs and crops are still visible up to an elevation of about 600 m. At this altitude all vegetation ceases to exist, as the mountain flanks are regularly covered in volcanic ash and less regularly stones. Without a guide, people are only allowed up to an altitude of 400 m. So that is the zone that I am covering an all possible paths whenever the weather allows. The trip to the top, to see a 100 m high lava fountain, will come later during my stay here.
The climate is typically Mediterranean with hot summers and mild winters. Which holds true unless the Tramontana, a cold wind from the north, blows. If it is raining in addition, the peaks of Stromboli volcano can see snow. Which is weird, when looking in the other direction shows you a breathtaking sunrise behind palm trees. And sure, there are the occasional storms, which make a real rough sea out of the usualy rather calm and tranquil Mediterranean Sea.