Every day between 4 and 7 pm, an average of 2,000 people swarm over Stromboli, a small island off the north coast of Sicily, part of the Aeolian Islands group. These large crowds of tourists only visit for the afternoon, docking at Scari, the island’s only pier, with large boats, often causing regularly scheduled hydrofoils to wait for more than 10 minutes before they can disembark their own groups of visitors.
Stromboli contains one of Italy’s three active volcanoes. Named after the island, Mount Stromboli has erupted many times and is constantly active with minor eruptions. It’s visible from many points on the island and from the surrounding sea.
A significant geological feature of the volcano is the Sciara del Fuoco (‘stream of fire’), a large depression generated in the last 13,000 years by several collapses on the northwestern side of the cone.
The tourists who just go for the day crowd the beaches they can reach on foot for three hours before the boats go back to collect them and take them back to the mainland, but not before stopping to see the Sciara, swept by lava flows which continue after the major eruption of early July, when the tourists on the island had to be evacuated.
Some boats, reports La Repubblica newspaper, go dangerously close to the Sciara, while the Capitaneria di Porto (Port Authority) doesn’t perform any control.
Both residents and longer-stay tourists have been raising concerns all summer over the situation; hikes to the volcano are prohibited for the season and Italy’s Civil Protection agency has issued a yellow alert. Travel industry magazine TTG Italia reports that Stromboli seems unable to cope with the masses of tourists who spill onto its shores every day, nor does it look like it would be able to intervene promptly and effectively if a dangerous situation were to occur either on the island or at sea.