Getting There and Getting Around Sicily

Vulcano’s port with the tombolo Vulcanello seen in the middle ground. Vulcanello, the youngest cone on the island, began to form in 183 B.C. The island of Lipari is seen to the north. Credit: John Van Hoesen Vulcano’s port with the tombolo Vulcanello seen in the middle ground. Vulcanello, the youngest cone on the island, began to form in 183 B.C. The island of Lipari is seen to the north. Credit: John Van Hoesen

Italy’s volcanoes are mostly in the south, so flying into Rome or Naples is probably easiest. Getting around Italy is also very easy, whether you take the train or rent a car.  

To get to Sicily and Mount Etna, you can take a puddle-jumper flight from most airports in Italy into Palermo or Catania or take a ferry from several locations, including Naples and just outside of Rome. Getting around Sicily is a bit more difficult than the mainland, but relatively easy via bus or train, especially if you plan ahead and aren’t traveling on a major holiday when many stations shut down. Getting to more remote locations is easiest if you rent a car, but beware that driving on Sicily can be dangerous. If you book a volcano tour, such as through Volcano Trek or Volcano Discovery, your travel arrangements will be made for you. 

To get from Sicily to the Aeolian Islands, where you can visit both Vulcano and Stromboli, take a ferry or hydrofoil. You’ll also take ferries or hydrofoils between islands. Again, you can tour these volcanoes on your own, but it’s best to hire a guide service, such as Magmatrek. Don’t miss the mud baths on Vulcano. 

Take a ferry or hydrofoil back to Naples and then head south to Vesuvius. Getting around near Vesuvius is also easy, whether on train or by bus, or driving yourself.

Housing is easy to find in Italy, and ranges from hostels to pensiones to five-star hotels. Most people are pretty familiar with Italian food, but each region has its own specialties that may be pretty different from what you’re accustomed to. Naples is perhaps best known for its pizza; Sicily is popular for pasta with seafood like spaghetti ai ricci (spaghetti with sea urchin); and the Aeolian Islands are known for dishes featuring seafood and capers.  

Megan Sever

Credit: Danielle Schaab.

Sever is editor of EARTH Magazine. She has been with EARTH and its predecessor, Geotimes, since 2003, and manages the magazine's production from the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She loves working with the science community and enjoys learning something new every day.

Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 06:00