As we stepped off the boat onto the small island of Lipari after being on the teeny island of Alicudi for a week we felt like Dorothy going from Kansas to Oz.
“I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Alicudi anymore”, would’ve been the perfect thing to say that I said to Kristian, but I didn’t, but we can just pretend I did, for the sake of my story.
Lipari is not by any means a ‘big city’ but coming from living amongst approximately 100 people on the second smallest island of the Archipelago made it feel like London’s Piccadilly Circus! Usually Kristian and I try and avoid locations bustling with people, but after a week of solitude at La Casa Rossa at Tonna, we welcomed the energetic atmosphere that Lipari provided. Don’t get me wrong, living amongst the prickly pears in a 200 year old house, going down for a daily swim in the crystal clear waters and getting to know the locals who run the few shops along the waterfront are memories that we will cherish, but it was a nice feeling coming back to some hustle and bustle after our much treasured retreat.
Lipari has a lot happening, all the time. Even though the island is only about five kilometres across, it is always lively. The apartment we stayed in was located just around the corner from the beautiful piazza of Marina Corta. As we had a full week to lull about this island, we took our time and didn’t have to rush around seeing everything at once. This allowed us to get to know many local people. The lovely Signora Immacolata who sits on her little, red chair just outside her door on our tiny street; the chatty, sweet, old fellow, Gilberto, who runs the Paninoteca just around the corner; the always smiling Eloisa, the waitress at our favourite pasticceria who would give us discounts or extras whenever we bought one of the many gorgeous pastries she sold.
These special interactions can teach you so much about a place and, of course, give a small glimpse into the everyday lives of the people who live there. My favourite thing about all the travelling we have done is recognising the similarities, the discovery that we are all the same, no matter where we come from. Naturally, culture plays a big part in shaping us as people and of course, this makes us all unique. But when you can be on the other side of the world and recognise the connections you share with others, it certainly lessens the cultural and even geographical divide.
I spent a lot of time reflecting on our travels and return home during our time on the Aeolian Islands. It marked our final voyage to Italy before our trip back to Australia. We enjoyed every moment, not knowing when we would next be back in our beautiful Italy. Every time I leave the country, I am filled with strong emotions. It may seem rather dramatic and cliché, but Italy really does have a special place in my heart, and every time I leave, a little bit of me stays behind. As many first, second and even third generation Australians will know, when you spend time in the country from where you originate, you really start to understand more about your family and yourself.
Yes, Italy is special to us. It is a place that seems familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. The place where we came from, but are no longer a part of. A place that represents so much more than just the next travel destination and has, in many ways, shaped us as people. Indeed, Italy is special, but when it comes down to it, Italy is not home. Home awaits us on the other side of the ocean. Even though we are eager to go back to our home, our family, our country, we will always carry a little bit of Italy in our minds and in our hearts.
Pasticceria D'Ambra Giovanni- Vico Morfeo, 50, 98055 Lipari ME, Italy
Gorgeous, little patisserie in Lipari. Off the main drag and in a lovely, quiet location. Other than the incredible pastries, it's worth a visit just to meet the people who work there. Eloisa is amazing and will serve you with a smile. Lidia, an Melbourne girl who is engaged to the owner's son is also amazing and can help with any language barrier. The owner's grandchildren are the cutest and you will surely see them, running amok out the front of the shop.
Make sure you try the cannoli, filled on the spot with the most perfect ricotta cream. The bombolone alla marmellata (giant Italian donuts) are also to die for. Pretty much everything is great there, so you can't really go wrong. We went there for most breakfasts and post passeggiata snacks in the evening and were never disappointed!
Enopaninoteca Gilberto e Vera- Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 22, 98050 Lipari ME, Italy
The best panini on the island, for sure! Five euro for a massive sandwich made to order that is really enough for two! Gilberto is a little Italian guy with a massive personality. He spent ages talking to us about the history of his shop. He explained that each of his sandwiches has been named after the local people who always ate there.
He recounted the stories behind the quirky names of each sandwich. One of my favourites, 'Il Muratore', the bricklayer, who used to come in every day for lunch, always ordering a beer with his sandwich. It took them years and years to work out that he was as drunk as a skunk each time he ate there as he would sneakily drink the whole bottle of wine hidden in his bag, along with the beer he ordered.
I would recommend getting any of the many panini on offer, and I highly recommend getting Gilberto on a roll about said panini.