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davidx Lipari - A travel report by David
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Lipari,  Italy - flag Italy
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davidx's travel reports

Lipari - and too many other places

  14 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
After seeing the South of Sicily and Palermo I had 3 nights left. The last one was to be Taormina but where between? Cefalu, Castelbono, Milazzo and Lipari sounds outrageous? That’s because it is! But which would YOU leave out?


In the museum, Lipari
In the museum, Lipari
The alternative to just over an hour in Lipari was no time in Lipari and Milazzo is the shore base for the islands and thus obligatory. I wanted another small town after I had so enjoyed Caltabellota; hence Castelbuono. The bus to Castelbuono went from Cefalu – and anyway there were those fabulous Byzantine mosaics – so there you are.

This was the only area in Sicily – in Italy come to that - where I have found transport at all difficult so some tips:
Make sure you look VERY CAREFULLY at the departure timetables in the station for rail info and don’t trust anything else! The timetable they had given me at the TIC had been amended at the station in barely visible writing – and it cost me precious time at Palermo before I was able to leave for Cefalu.
Allow plenty of time to get to your bus/train in Cefalu. A level crossing caused me to miss my bus
If you should be daft enough to do the same, IGNORE the fact that Castelbuono station is only one stop away and wait for the next bus. It might as well be New York as far as proximity is concerned. I was lucky to be rescued by a fellow passenger who gave me a lift.
Find out about any impending train strikes.
Forget totally any claim that Italian trains run on time.

Here’s a different sort of warning. In Lipari, after I’d visited the museum, I was making for a long flight of steps that I’d avoided on the way up when I met a woman of ‘uncertain age’ with a rather lovable looking mongrel. This dog formed an undue and embarrassing attachment to my leg so I pushed it away with my stick. It howled fit to bust and its owner shouted at me. I tried to explain, but what’s an explanation between users of different languages when a lying cur tells a different story? For all I know she may be still ranting on about it! So, if you MUST push a dog, just get away fast – don’t try to explain!



Favourite spots:
Lipari 1
Lipari 1
I had no thought of going to the Aeolian Islands until I saw them on my flight into Catania. They looked so absolutely fabulous in a startlingly blue sea that I had to visit. From Milazzo it was a matter of damage limitation because there was clearly insufficient time. I could just about make it to Stromboli, puffing like a young boy with a stolen cigar, but that would have meant no time on land at all. Hence Lipari, with the aliscafo [hydrofoil] putting into Volcano on the way, an old volcano just about active, more like a breathless old man. Lipari is superb; locals were disparaging of what I could hope to see in so little time. When I go back, I shall circumvent the island by bus and walking. For now going up to the purpose built archaeological museum and looking down and back over the harbour more than justified my decision to go and not to go further to Stromboli.

What's really great:
Castelbuono, down from castle, [cafe to left]
Castelbuono, down from castle, [cafe to left]
Castelbuono is probably no better than a number of small Sicilian towns on hills near the coast; i.e. it’s smashing! After the confusion getting there, my rescuer [see above] took me to the TIC. They phoned a b&b place, which quoted double the rate on their list – I turned it down and they then booked me in to the Hotel Ariston. They let me leave my luggage while I went up to the castle. I felt a bit like a little boy in my enjoyment – and what views!

Cefalu has survived as little more than a village above the coast – with a glorious cathedral, in spite of now being one of the few Sicilian destinations in UK holiday brochures. Sad that repair work on the cathedral should have put down any thoughts of photography there but those Byzantine mosaics are as good as claimed and sufficiently different from the Norman–Arab ones at Montreale for a non-connoisseur like me to notice - and enjoy both in their own right.

Sights:
Lipari 2
Lipari 2
Milazzo obviously owes its many visitors mainly to the fact that it’s the main embarkation point for the Aeolians but it’s certainly worth more time than I gave it for its own sake. It’s a busy place with ships as well as aliscafi going to the islands. The main potential point of interest, which I did not have energy or time to visit is the citadel, well up from the sea through amazing old Sicilian buildings. The town was a key site and has been much fought over. The castle dates from the 13th century and there were previously both Arab and Greek buildings there. It’s a splendid view from the sea, particularly when floodlit.
Apparently the Cape area, a short local bus ride, is good for beaches and it’s mainly Italians you will find on them – as opposed to the ships and aliscofi.

Accommodations:
I stayed at Castelbuono and Milazzo.
The Hotel Ariston at Castelbuono [Via Vittimaro 2 – 0921 71 132] was, to put it politely, an experience. Even my VERY limited Italian usually enables me to deal with the formalities easily enough. It was not helped, however, by the fact that the elderly man in reception had two others with him playing cards, who tried to be of assistance. I wish I had the skill to paint them or the nerve to take a photo – just too stereotypical to be believed without evidence. The hotel was empty that night except for me – and I don’t mean the staff and me! Breakfast was not included; shower and toilet were separate; ‘basic’ was a word that could have been coined for this. However it was dramatically cheap – just as well!

In Milazzo I stayed at the Hotel Central, Via del Sole 8 [090 928 1043]. Acceptable, but there is no shortage of accommodation here.



Restaurants:
Lipari 3
Lipari 3
I don’t think I ever knew the name of the place I ate in at Castelbuono but it’s easy to find, it’s cheap, friendly and fun. Walking down from the castle towards the Ariston, there is a large arch in the road. It’s a fairly fast food place on your left as you approach the arch. I say fairly fast because, although they waste no time, the food is cooked carefully and is very good. There are always plenty of customers and nearly all of them chatted to me a bit. You don’t have to understand.

I’m not much better in Milazzo. It was that time in the evening when the whole population appears to be in the street – until you realise that part of it is filling the numerous eating places! Somehow I got through the crowd to the east end if the town ad it was on the right, a self-service semi-cafeteria like something in a good bus station – but the salad I had was truly delicious.

Other recommendations:
Lipari 4
Lipari 4
The Aeolians are obviously worth a separate extended visit. Anyone who has seen the film, ‘Il Postino’, should take little persuasion.

Some buses from Cefalu to Castelbuono go on into the interior to Geraci Sículo. This has to be a good area for walking.

Some useful websites [no spaces, which are only there to avoid the 40 letter word limit]:
http://www.besto fsicily.com/cefalu.htm

http://www.inita ly.com/regions/si cily/aeolian.htm

http://buten.net/max/sic ily/70_eolie/Mi lazzo10-CitadelH arbor0408.html

http://www.ca rasco.com/engli sh/travel-time table.html




Published on Friday January 21th, 2005


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Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 10:08 PM rating by tokyomike

Wow, what a blast from the past. I was on Lipari back in about 1988. I have nothing but fond memories -- most of which involve blue seas viewed from the hills, and the orange and lemons in the trees. I also did Stromboli, which was cool, but Lipari was the place to be. Thanks for the good memories and new information. Great report! Thanks!

Tue, Jan 25 2005 - 05:51 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

nice report

Sat, Jan 22 2005 - 02:45 PM rating by italian-link

Hey David,
I loved your report on Lipari. Very awesome details, and you described it perfectly. I've been to Sicily many times, and to Lipari and Milazzo a few times, so I know it well. Good job.
Thanks,
Larry

http://www.italian-link.com

Fri, Jan 21 2005 - 02:48 PM rating by britman

Excellent report David...and beautifully illustrated. Well worth ***** again.

Fri, Jan 21 2005 - 01:54 PM rating by marianne

Hi david,
This is a very good report, excellent information and well written. I absolutely agree that reading bus timetables is essential and , no, you can't rely on what others say. We had the same experience.
Good photos!.
Marianne

Fri, Jan 21 2005 - 12:34 PM rating by bear495

Another wonderful report. Thank you for joining us. Keep up the good work.

Russ

Fri, Jan 21 2005 - 12:15 PM rating by johnnye00

Sounds great, especially considering how little time you had.

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