Climbing the Stromboli – Guide to the Aeolian Islands

STORY BY TOMMASO RAGONESE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARCO CRUPI

Stromboli, la Sciara del Fuoco vista dal mare

The Stromboli, as seen from near the Sciara del Fuoco (the side of the island where the lava and debris expelled from the craters falls and reaches the sea).

The Stromboli is one of the world’s most active volcanoes: its intermittent activity (so peculiar that this type of eruptions are known to experts as ‘strombolian’) lasting usually between 1 and 10 seconds. 926 meters high, with its active craters located at approximately 750 meters, it emerged from below the sea to the north-east of the island of Panarea around 160.000 years ago.

The hike to the summit is moderately strenuous: it is advisable to be in good health and good physical shape before attempting it. Pregnant women should abstain altogether. The use of contact lenses is discouraged as volcanic sand and ash could easily enter your eyes and cause irritation.

The limit for independent hikers is set at 400 meters. To climb above that, a certified guide must be hired. Groups are limited to 20 participants and it’s therefore best to book in advance. Magmatrek is a trusted and well-known company: we recommend them. Bear in mind that hiking will only take place if the volcanological data show a regular activity and experts consider it safe for groups to venture near the craters.

Itinerari per la scalata dello Stromboli

Magmatrek’s chart of trails – courtesy of Antonio Tabanelli.

La chiesa di San Vincenzo Ferreri a Stromboli

The church of San Vincenzo Ferreri.

Guide vulcanologiche Magmatrek

Magmatrek’s office in Stromboli.

The classic itinerary starts near San Vincenzo’s church in town: it’s 4.2 kilometres to the summit of the volcano with 918 meters of ascent, taking approximately 3 and a half hours to complete. The way back is approximately another 2 and a half hours down a different trail which is steeper and sandier than the way up.

Another itinerary starts from the village of Ginostra, on the terrace by the church, climbs along the western side of the Sciara del Fuoco, taking you to Pizzo at 800 meters above sea level where you can watch the activity of the south-western crater. It is advisable, instead of walking back the same way, to proceed to Portella delle Croci and hike along a well-marked trail which will take you to town.

Caschi e occhialini di protezione della Magmatrek

Equipment:

  • Hiking boots.
  • Tall socks.
  • Head lamp.
  • A jumper and a jacket.
  • Some snacks and at least 2lt water.
  • Helmet and protective glasses (usually given for free by the guide companies).

Some companies offer boots and equipment for rent also. It’s best to start with light clothing and dress up once on the top.

An old cemetery dating back to the beginning of the XX century, built far from the main town during the cholera epidemic.

The view from the top of Stromboli at sunset.

STROMBOLI – EXACT LOCATION