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The Luxury Italy’s volcanic Aeolian Islands boast stupendous scenery, an unmistakably Mediterranean energy and a colorful history steeped in ancient mythology (Aeolus, god of the wind, was the mythical king of the archipelago, which Odysseus himself is rumored to have roamed). Set a like a strand of sensual pearls between Sicily and the Italian mainland, these seven islands are Mediterranean beauty at its most sublime – but unlike other Italian isles (ahem, Capri), the quiet Aeolians are just far enough off the radar (about a 45-minute flight from Rome) to remain pristine and typically un-crowded, making them popular among vacationing Italians. But this “off-the-beaten-path” status means the logistics of travel between the islands can be tricky. Tour operator Select Italy has set out to connect the dots with style and ease for independent travelers wanting to explore all the islands have to offer.
The Value Starting from $3,520 per person (based on double occupancy) the company’s new seven-night Mystery and Fire package does all the island-hopping legwork for you, providing complimentary transfers to/from the mainland and between islands. Private boat excursions include a half-day journey from posh Panarea (a jet-setter magnet where the water sparkles with an impossibly blue hue) to an islet where you can set foot on a sunken Roman dock -- while a sunset cruise will whisk you to lush Salina, whose volcanic soil produces the grapes that make sweet Malvasia white wine. Unaccompanied by guides, you can soak up a volcanic mud bath on Vulcano (where, yes, the word “volcano” comes from) or take in a nightly eruption on Stromboli (home to one of the world’s most active volcanoes) at your own pace. True to its name, Select Italy has sifted through the islands’ hotels to find the gems that really shine for your seven nights (like Stromboli’s top-notch La Sirenetta Park, Salina’s gorgeously-situated Hotel Signum & Spa, Taormina’s Hotel Villa Ducale, and the five-star Hotel Raya in Panarea).
The Catch July and August bring more crowds and higher prices to the Aeolians, so consider low or shoulder season travel.
The Details Package is available from April 5th – November 2nd, 2010 (it’s recommended to book at least 2 months in advance). 800-877-1755, selectitaly.com