A Hidden Paradise: Salina, The Aeolian Islands, Italy

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on August 25, 2013

1 - cover photo

This was basically the view we got to wake up to for 7 days straight during our time in Salina.

Can anything be more peaceful and relaxing? 🙂

This was the last destination on our month-long Italian vacation. It was almost like our trip went from the most city-like (Rome), to the most remote (Salina).

Where is Salina? It’s part of the Aeolian Islands, a set of small islands off the coast of Sicily.

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They are extremely hard to get to.

The husband and I left Montepulciano at 4:30am, drove to Rome to drop off our rental car, flew from Rome to Sicily, took a cab from the airport to the port, took a 4.5 hour hydrofoil to the island of Salina, and then a cab to our resort on the island.

Guess what time we arrived?

6pm. Yup. We were tired.

But it was so worth it!!

5 - Salina Island3

We stayed at the Capofaro, a winery and upscale resort, right on the ocean. Capofaro is definitely a splurge, but trust me, it’s the only place to stay if you visit this island. The service is impeccable, the grounds are beautiful, and the chef at the restaurant literally customized an all-vegetarian menu for us for dinner every night (a new menu for every night!). It was some of the best food we had on the entire trip.

Salina is one of the more developed parts in the collection of the Aeolian Islands, and you can take mini day trips from Salina to the other islands (we didn’t — we chose to spend the week reading, playing tennis at the resort, swimming in the pool, sitting by the ocean, eating, etc.). These were the views from our room and pretty much anywhere we were on the resort:

1 - Capofaro collage

Every day, we woke up and had the most delicious hot, complimentary breakfast in their outdoor dining area.

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Fresh whole fruit and vegetable juices (made from scratch), cereals, omelettes, eggs any style, fruit, bruschetta, housemade pastries, I could go on.

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After breakfast, we’d spend a couple hours reading / relaxing on the grounds (they had this awesome shaded seating area in the grass overlooking the ocean), and then we’d head to the tennis courts and play for an hour or so. Then we’d swim, have lunch, followed by more reading, a nap, or watching episodes of Homeland (so good!), and then we would head to dinner. Our view at dinner was breathtaking, since we could see the vineyard and the sunset every night from our table.

3 - Capofaro Sunset2

3 - Capofaro Sunset3

Of course I couldn’t resist taking photos.

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Sicilian food is absolutely delicious: spicy, light, mediterranean-influenced, and extremely flavorful. They use tons of fresh vegetables in their food which I appreciate. Some of the highlights:

A fresh melon gazpacho with pecorino cheese…

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Spaghetti cooked al-dente with crushed red pepper, sautéed chicory, and pecorino.

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Fried vegetables – sort of like tempura.

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“Caponata” – which basically means a mix of fresh vegetables sautéed with spices and crushed red pepper.

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An “Aeolian Salad” – grape tomatoes, oregano, capers, onions, olive oil – so good!

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Couscous with grilled vegetables.

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Fresh vegetable soups: this one happened to be a carrot soup (with no cream – yay!)

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Spaghetti with market vegetables and spices

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On two nights (the night we arrived and our last night at dinner), we received complimentary desserts from the chef – a plate of house-made cookies and cakes – literally out of this world. I wish I had a picture to share but it was so dark by the time dinner was over (since we were eating outdoors) that my camera couldn’t do it! I did manage to capture one of the plates we received: an “ice cream sandwich”, almond brittle, and a cannoli.

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This was the second best cannoli we had on our whole trip (the first one was still the one we had in Rome on our Testaccio food tour).

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Can you see why we ate almost ALL of our meals at the resort? 🙂

Dinner was long and leisurely, and so by the time it was over we’d see the moon rise.

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Which, subsequently, cast the most beautiful glow over the entire resort.

2 - Capofaro night collage

We did venture into town to check it out one day – Santa Marina is the main town – and it was small/cute with not much to do. But one highlight in particular was going to the town of Pollara to watch the sunset.

For those of you who have seen Il Postino, Pollara was where it was filmed!

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This is literally the smallest town ever. There is one restaurant, and just a few houses — all of which face the cliffside (you’ll see why in a sec!)

4 - Pollara4

We had heard the sunset here was incredible, so we decided to take the bus to Pollara, watch the sunset and have dinner one evening. In order to get to a good viewing point, we had to hike a little – where we noticed the landscape had an Arizona-esque feel to it.

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If you went all the way down to the water, there were a few rocks that you could sit on and from there, walk into the ocean. We chose not to since we had dinner plans, but there were a few people still lingering on the rocks as the sun was about to set.

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And a few boats in the ocean (probably also waiting for the sunset).

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And then, it began. The sun was higher in the sky at first…

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And it slowly began to sink down towards the sea.

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Like a ball of fire.

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And then, like magic, the sun started to disappear.

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And then it was gone.

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This was one of the last things we did in Salina before we left, and it is something I will remember forever.

 

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

jenn aka the picky girl August 26, 2013 at 10:45 am

Amazing.

I’ve been to Italy three times, but I’ve never been here. You’ve definitely made me want to add it to my list.

Reply

Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 26, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Yay!! It’s definitely a journey to get to, but is so, so worth it. I hope you have a chance to visit some day! 🙂

Reply

Salina Hancock October 3, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I was wondering if there was any way you would be able to or direct me somewhere that I could hear how Salina is pronounced. As you can see my name is spelled the exact same. Mine is pronounced like the Mexican singer who passed away. There is a town is Kansas called Salina and the best way I know how to explain how it sounds is su-lie-na. I wish to visit there no matter how it is pronounced.
Thank you,
Salina from Texas 🙂

Reply

Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Hi Salina! I believe Salina, Italy is pronounced “suh-lee-na” or “sah-lee-na”. Hope that helps! Btw, it would be so cool if you visited your namesake city! 🙂

Reply

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