The Aeolians have a culture of their own, an archipelago of 8 islands clustered in the Mediterranean just north of Sicily. Fascinated by islands, I like to explore how each island expresses itself, out in the wild on its own, with a rich sea life to draw from and the ingredients at hand that have given us the Mediterranean diet — wild plants such as fennel, oregano, rosemary and the cultivated citrus, olive and hot weather vegetables. Their gardens are often protected by rock walls to protect from the wind and insure a good harvest to put up for the winter.
There are two volcanos, Stromboli being one of them, and there is nothing like sitting on your boat at night, right at the foot of the volcano, watching it spew fire into the dark of night. These are off the beaten path destinations that hold innocence as well as wisdom and a history worth touching into. Different than other island clusters, one practically has the sea to oneself, adding that sense of ancient adventure.
Islanders can be suspicious, at the same time they can be incredibly curious and open. They all have stories to tell, as their ancestors were potent enough to withstand the trade-winds of time.
Mainland Italians are rooted to the earth. They are “bell ringers” of their own regions and towns and stick very close to home. They live in communities and have access to culture and choice and can get anything they need, whereas Islanders have to exist with what they have. Sometimes, this can also create stereotypes that can’t be escaped. Islanders are needless to say, independent and care little about what others think of them. Therefore, be ready to meet some real characters. Men fish, like to gather and play cards, have long meals, tell stories and dig around on their land, mending fences and dabbling in other peoples business. Women, no doubt do the same as well as clean their houses, tend to the children, run small shops and live life, not unlike it has been lived for thousands of years.
Everyone keeps their eyes on the sea to see who’s coming over the horizon. It’s in their blood to be on the lookout.