Filicudi and Alicudi
They are the two smaller islands of the Aeolian archipelago.
Called Phoenicusa in antiquity for the ferns that grew there, it is the largest of the two smaller islands, the westernmost of the archipelago . Its marina, in the center of a large gulf, consists of colorful cube-shaped concrete buildings that are not very promising but the longer you stay in Filicudi the more its charm reveals itself.
The rest of this pretty conical island can be reached on foot quite easily. The paths climb up the slopes and are flanked by rounded lava boulders, interspersed with large agaves and prickly pears.
You can go down among the rocks to pebble beaches and swim in deserted coves, or go on the terraced headlands to reach isolated villages and fantastic viewpoints.
There are no sandy beaches in Filicudi , but the offshore waters are increasingly frequented by yachts and divers, some of whom have hurried to buy the abandoned houses around the port. The steep slopes of Filicudi are all dotted with stone terraces, evidence of the fact that before the mass emigration of the 1950s and 1960s agricultural activity on the island was particularly intense. Today the permanent residents are only about 250 even if in the summer months the number of presences rises to 2500 thanks to the arrival of tourists.
What to see in Filicudi
The main road heads south towards Capo Graziano and the prehistoric village discovered in 1952. It is believed that this group of huts dating back to the Bronze Age arose a few centuries before the village unearthed at Punta Milazzese in Panarea. From the village you can go down to the only beach of Filicudi, a strip of pebbles which represents the only access to the sea. From the port, via a flight of steps, you reach the path that leads to the center of the island. The path forks: north up to Val di Chiesa a small village with a pretty church built on a natural terrace, above the village you can reach the top of the Fossa delle Felci .
Alternatively, the road to the south leads to Pecorini a small group of one-storey houses gathered around a church.
On the western side of the island you can visit the natural arch of Punta Perciato and the nearby Grotta del Bue Marino. This 37m long and 30m wide cavity takes its name from the monk seals that once populated the island, inside the cave presents enchanting plays of lights that refract on the clear water. To the north-west is the 71 m high Canna singular and slender stack, one of the most impressive of the archipelago.
The island forms a perfect cone, a veritable outgrowth in the Mediterranean, and its precipitous coast is perforated by numerous caves . On the steep slope behind the only inhabited center, Alicudi Porto , tiny terraced farms and white houses cling tenaciously to the rock, adorned with cascades of flowers.
The ancient name of Alicudi, Ericusa, derives from the heather that still colors the slopes purple in spring. In the past this remote rocky island was exploited by the Italian government as a place of detention for convicted mafiosi, but now it is in fact abandoned by everyone, except for a few farmers and fishermen, in fact the island has extremely relaxing rhythms. It is this peace that attracts tourists , to go anywhere it is necessary to walk but the network of paths paved in volcanic stone behind the village is extremely steep and arduous, all transport still takes place with donkeys or mules.
What to see in Alicudi
It is possible to climb the central peak of the Filo dell'Arpa (675m), a strenuous two-hour climb along a rather rocky path. Once at the top you can admire a beautiful view of the extinct volcano Montagnole and the Timpone delle Femmine , a series of large cracks in the rock where women are said to have found refuge during pirate raids. The best spots for sunbathing are south of the port, where you have to walk on the rocks to reach the sea. The water is crystal clear and there is absolute stillness interrupted only by the sound of a fishing boat.