Off to Salina

Time flies; it’s already two weeks shy of a year since my last trip to Italy with Jo. We’re off again on Thursday, this time to the tiny island of Salina, amongst the Aeolian group of islands off the north coast of Sicily. As is usual before a holiday, I have much to wrap up at work as I am quickly asked to finish off tasks and get projects to a certain stage before I go. Tonight, I will be ensuring that I am fully packed so that tomorrow evening can be spent relaxing before our long journey south. The trip will be quiet from an internet point of view – my Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as the blog, will be pretty much silent as I’ve deliberately chosen a hotel with no internet access.

The Early Train South

Our trip begins on Thursday, when we’ll get a taxi to take us to the train station: an unusual luxury, but our bags will be heavy and the morning early. There, we’ll catch the Cisalpino service as far as the Swiss border station of Domodossola, meaning that I don’t have to pay for a train ticket as I have the Swiss national rail pass. From there, we will switch to a Comazzi coach which will take us to Milan’s Malpensa airport for half the price and much more efficiency than the Trenitalia rail network.

After the usual rigmarole of check-in and waiting around, we’ll board an easyJet flight and zip down to the Sicilian east coast, arriving at Catania airport five minutes after the only direct onward coach service leaves. So, onto the train we’ll go and then – hopefully with no delays – to Milazzo with a change of trains and a forty minute wait in Messina, on the edge of the straits between Sicily and mainland Italy.

Salina's white cloud

Thirteen and three quarter hours after leaving Spiez, and no doubt exhausted by our long journey, we’ll collapse gratefully into our beds at the Petit Hotel (in French for some reason, “small hotel”) under the watchful gaze of the tastefully draped women in the bedroom’s wall art, before catching the hydrofoil to Salina on Friday morning. From there, we’ll get our rented scooter, let the rental company bring our luggage around the island for us, check in at the Hotel Punta Scario in Malfa and relax before my friend’s pre-wedding drinks on Friday evening at a hotel near where we’re staying. After the wedding, which will take us back around to the main port of Santa Maria Salina on Saturday, our time will be our own and we plan on exploring as much of the island as possible, whilst packing in a trip to Stromboli and its black beaches.

More than that, we’ve no idea! There is a vague notion that we’ll hike up one or other of Salina’s two peaks, though this will be highly dependent upon temperature, weather and seeing at first-hand how steep the slopes actually are! We’ll be buzzing around the island on the rented scooter, finding nooks, crannies and beaches to explore, and generally taking it easy. After a few days on the island, which promises to be a quiet time away from the main tourist routes, we’re anticipating returning to the south eastern side of Sicily itself and – again, dependent upon the weather – making a minibus and foot ascent of Etna.

Mt. Etna, Italy