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Wind turbines, the journey within the journey

To the north of Sicily, a string of mythical islands exudes island charm with a few nuggets, including a stunningly elegant hotel.

Nothing is more exciting than adding an extra step during a trip. Go from Copenhagen to Malmoe, from Kyoto to Osaka, from Venice to Padua, from Krakow to Lodz, from La Trinité to Belle-Île… The list is long of these destinations where you can take this famous step aside, to deviate from logic and, by resonance, to amplify the pleasure of moving away from one’s goal. The trip to Sicily is already a wonderful adventure in itself. Yet, as you strolled along the quays of Palermo (it could have been Naples, Messina, Milazzo), a sign caught our eye. And if we left the ancient charm of Sicily for a moment to go see elsewhere if we were there?

There is something magical about this kind of stall. Suddenly, the journey returns to its origins: leaving a place to better find oneself. Get away from your habits, from your images. Getting rid of a few clothes, of your own country, of your confinement. To take some fresh air. Picking up in this way puts you at a distance. As the stops progress, the world thins out, returns to a few essentials.

The Church of San Lorenzo Martire, in Malfa on the island of Salina. – © iStock

These will therefore be the Wind turbines. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, they can be discovered in the addresses slipped under the boater. No need for long speeches, a hand on the heart is enough to sum them up. They can be rocks, islets or islands. There are thus 25, of which seven are inhabited. Going through them immediately takes you back to the origin of the world, 200,000 years ago, when our brave Earth began to make a devilish racket, sending tectonic plates, seas and mountains flying. The Aeolian thus appeared, in the basalt and the rock. Africa and Europe had just separated… This mineral dimension will be constant during your trip. Even the foot will feel this raw, original presence. The advantage of this string of islands is to operate a successful ventilation among all the expectations of travelers. Lovers of chic solitude and families on joyful excursions will immediately point to the ideal island on the map. You might even consider doing a first reconnaissance, probing the depth of pleasure and locating the hotel, the beach, the skies that will await you during a future stay.

Throbbing fumaroles

Pollara beach, in Salina.
Pollara beach, in Salina. – © Giovanni Tagini / REDA&CO / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The most discreet of the Aeolian is called Alicudi, as if cut off from the world with its sheer drops, its colorful solitude, a fishing village. The best known, Lipari, has magnificent obsidian and pumice stone quarries and a fascinating beach, the spiaggia bianca. Vulcano is aptly named with its three craters, one of which has only one eye open. Its haunting fumaroles enchant fans of the genre who will find additional relaxation in the mud baths. It is no coincidence that Alfa Romeo gave one of its colors the name of Panarea, since it is undoubtedly the most chic of the Aeolian Islands, constituting a justified filiation between Taormina and Capri. Stromboli is not devoid of explosive character. The eruption has been its specialty for 2,400 years. People come from all over the world to get closer to its effusions. The island of Filicudi, for its part, benefits from the overexposure of the previous islands to gain charm and authenticity spread over three hamlets.

Room in the Hotel Signum.
Room at the Signum Hotel. – © Hotel Signum

Different boats take you there and sometimes it can be long. Like in a real trip. We even manage (finally) to get bored, to walk interminably on the corridors, to take a long breath, to linger in a spectacular bar with a 1970s design. The islands then arrive one after the other. Already the images overlap, your lips pronounce their names as if by reflective magic. Your eyes recognize movie scenes in exquisite haze. The memory then delivers what is most delicious. A strong mix of limpid images, smoking azure skies, crystal clear waters, stretched moments: Stromboli by Roberto Rossellini (1950); Michelangelo Antonioni’s Adventure (1960), Nanni Moretti’s Diary (1993) or Michael Radford’s Il Postino, with Jean Noiret (1994)…

Salina’s hairline chic

The one that awaits us today is Salina, the second largest island in the archipelago whose name comes from its salt mines. It is precisely here that Il Postino was filmed. You will see, your memory will slip you into the fold of these atmospheres. But to do this, it is necessary to handle these dreams with tact, not to let them crumple unnecessarily. Choosing your hotel then becomes a matter of state. A poorly anchored stay can crush your fervor. This is why the Signum hotel and its chic hairline are the best answer. We find bucolic people there, dreamers who have come to calm down to the rhythm of the old houses unhooking themselves according to the alleys. Sometimes, you don’t meet anyone there except your shadow that goes to grow on the whitewashed walls.

Terrace of the Hotel Signum.
Terrace of the Signum Hotel. – © Stefano Butturini

The rooms have the Italian aesthetic of the happy years, calm colors, welcome nudity, a disarming vintage side. Know that the mistress of the place is mayor of the village. His daughter Martina Caruso is one of the rising stars of Italian cuisine. Not without reason: here she deploys a lively and colorful cuisine, soft and full of character, echoing the uncluttered elegance of this small bent hamlet, sometimes leading to a pool or a highly recommended spa. Signum belongs to this kind of addresses that we would like to keep to ourselves. But the generous nature of these pages encourages us to entrust it to you. Be careful, you risk leaving a little of your soul there. Which isn’t too bad, she’ll be waiting for you there.

To reach Salina: departures from Palermo (3h30), Milazzo (1h40) or Messina (2h20). Ustica Lines and Siremar. Also possible from Naples, but it is longer (5 h 35), SNAV.

Francois Simon

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