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Betry in motion

Meet the locals on the Aeolian isle of Salina, a Sicilian land so idyllic it could bring out the poet in anyone
A cloud of jasmine on a stroll through Malfa
A friendly local dog on Salina.
The infinity pool at Malfa’s Hotel Ravesi, which enjoys distant views of Stromboli.
The colours and contrasts of Salina’s many fishing boats
Michelin-starred chef Martina Caruso heads up the kitchen at family- owned Hotel Signum in Malfa.

Near the summit of Monte Fossa delle Felci we step out of cool woods into dazzling light. It is a windless, scorching day on Salina.

The Aeolian Islands bask peacefully in the heat haze: behind us the isles of Lipari, Filicudi and Alicudi; in front, Panarea and the magnificent pyramid of Stromboli with its cap of volcanic gases. Sicily, to the south, is a shadow; Italy doesn’t exist at all. Bosomy Salina, with its twin volcanoes, floats in a little world of its own, in a blinding-blue pool of sky and sea.

‘People say Salina’s a little place. I don’t know what they’re talking about,’ jokes Elio, the ebullient chief ranger of the island’s nature reserve. ‘From where I stand, it’s pretty big. It’s everything else that’s tiny.’

Salinieris are fiercely proud of their home, which in their view is not only by far the best island in the archipelago, but probably in the world. In the hugely popular film Il Postino, about the exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s friendship with a young postman, Salina is portrayed as a place whose beauty could make a poet of anyone. ‘Walk slowly along the shore, look around and the metaphors will surely come to you,’ advises Neruda. A few days on the island, exploring its fishing villages and watching the sun set over its rocky beaches, and I’m sure he’s right. Even islanders born and bred seem amazed by Salina’s loveliness. ‘Look at that,’ they say several times a day, shrugging their shoulders with half-embarrassment, half-glee. ‘We live in a paradise!’

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - August 2017
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