Wind turbines, the journey within the journey

North of Sicily, a pearl array of mythical islands exudes island charm with a few grains of gold, including a stunningly elegant hotel.

Nothing is more exciting than adding an extra step during a trip. Take from Copenhagen to Malmö, 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 amplify the pleasure of moving away from its goal. The trip to Sicily is already a wonderful adventure in itself. But 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 old charm of Sicily for a moment to see elsewhere if we were there?

There is something magical about this kind of penance. Suddenly the journey returns to its origins: to leave a place where one can better find oneself. Get away from your habits, from your photos. Getting rid of a pair of clothes, your own country, your confinement. To take some fresh air. Picking up this way brings you at a distance. As the stops progress, the world thins out, and returns to a few essential things.

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

It will therefore be the Wind Turbines. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, they can be discovered at the addresses slipped under the sailor. No need for long speeches, one 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. Walking through them immediately takes you back to the origins of the world, 200,000 years ago, when our brave Earth began to make a diabolical racket that sent tectonic plates, gardens and mountains flying. The Aeolian thus appeared, in the basalt and the rock. Africa and Europe had just been separated … This mineral dimension will be constant during your journey. Even the foot will feel this raw, original presence. The advantage of this series of islands is to operate a successful ventilation among all travelers’ expectations. Lovers of smart solitude and families on happy excursions will immediately point to the ideal island on the map. You can even consider making an initial reconnaissance, exploring the depths of joy and finding the hotel, the beach, the sky that awaits 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 pure drops, its colorful solitude, a fishing village. The most famous, Lipari, has magnificent obsidian and pumice quarries and a fascinating beach, 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 further relaxation in the mud baths. It is no coincidence that Alfa Romeo gave one of its colors the name Panarea, as it is undoubtedly the smartest of the Aeolian islands, forming a legitimate connection 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 outflows. The island of Filicudi, on the other hand, benefits from the overexposure of the former islands to achieve charm and authenticity spread over three villages.

Room at Hotel Signum.
Room at Signum Hotel. – © Hotel Signum

Different boats take you there, and sometimes it can be long. Like on a real trip. We even manage (finally) to get bored, to walk endlessly in the hallways, to breathe far, to get stuck in a spectacular bar with a 1970s design .. Then the islands 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 the most delicious. A strong mix of clear images, smoky azure skies, crystal clear water, expansive moments: Stromboli by Roberto Rossellini (1950); Michelangelo Antonioni’s fairy tale (1960), Nanni Moretti’s diary (1993) or Michael Radford’s Il Postino, with Jean Noiret (1994) …

Salina’s chic hairline

The one that awaits us today is Salina, the second largest island in the archipelago, whose name comes from its salt mines. This is exactly where Il Postino was filmed. You will see, your memory will slide you into the fold of these atmospheres. But to do this, it is necessary to deal with these dreams with tact, not to let them curl unnecessarily. Choosing your hotel then becomes a matter of state. A poorly grounded stay can crush your fervor. That is why the Signum hotel and its smart hairline are the best answer. We find there rural people, dreamers who have come to calm down to the rhythm of the old houses loosening after the alleys. Sometimes you do not meet anyone there except your shadow growing on the whitewashed walls.

Terrace at Hotel Signum.
Terrace at Signum Hotel. – © Stefano Butturini

The rooms have the happy years of Italian aesthetics, calm colors, welcome nudity, a disarming vintage side. Know that the mistress of the place is the mayor of the village. His daughter Martina Caruso is one of the rising stars of Italian cuisine. Not without reason: here she uses a lively and colorful cuisine, soft and characterful, repeating the tidy elegance of this small curved village, which sometimes leads to a pool or a highly recommended spa. Signum belongs to the kind of addresses that we would like to keep to ourselves. But the generous nature of these pages encourages us to entrust them to you. Be careful, you risk leaving a little of your soul there. Which is not so bad, she’s waiting for you there.

To reach Salina: departure from Palermo (3.30), Milazzo (1.40) or Messina (2.20). Ustica Lines and Siremar. Also possible from Naples, but it is longer (5 h 35), SNAV.

Francois Simon

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