Santa Marina Salina
The island's main town, Santa Marina Salina, has the island's main port and, of course, the marina. Overlooking the port is the restaurant Porto Bello, and Layla, one of the island's most popular bars. Just beyond is the Piazza Santa Marina, in front of the church. Just up behind the main piazza and the Lungomare is the town's main drag: The car-free Via Risorgimento is lined with elegant 19th-century merchant houses, relics of the island's moment of glory. Many of these have recently, and lovingly, been restored, as has the charming Cinque Balconi Hotel. The street has an agreeable mixture of boutiques, including super-cool amanei at number 71 (www.amanei.com), and traditional grocery stores.
Following the eastern coastline south from Santa Marina, the road ends just beyond Lingua, a small town on the salt lake that was a fundamental part of the island's development. Overlooking the lake is the small Ethnographic Museum (tel. 090/9643396) that traces the island's history. At Lingua, the main piazza is home to da Alfredo's world-famous granite; the town also has a small shoreline, a few restaurants, pretty fishing boats, and a stony beach. Swamped in July and August, the tiny town is pleasantly sleepy in the shoulder season. For excursions to the verdant center of the island, best undertaken in spring and autumn, take the road to Valdichiesa, just north of Leni, where you can take one of the routes to the top of the Monte Fossa dei Felci, passing through paths rich in the ferns that give the mountain its name. The crater of the extinct volcano is 100m (328 ft.) deep, with a diameter of over 600m (1,969 ft.). From the rim of the crater, spectacular views take in the entire archipelago in a setting rich in centuries-old chestnuts, oaks, and pines. Occasionally the Falco della Regina (a type of Mediterranean falcon) is visible circling above.
One of the three administrative districts on the island, the small town of Malfa is slightly inland from the center of the northern coast. Its name is theorized either to come from the Arab marfa, meaning port, or from the Marine Republic of Amalfi, from which settlers came to Salina in the 12th century. Malfa town is built around Via Roma and has at its center the Church of the Immacolata on the small principal piazza, which is the site of the celebrations of the feast of St. Joseph on March 19. From Malfa, a small stony beach is accessible by foot, and boat rental is available at the tiny fishing port.
To the west of town, the road leads up to Semaforo, which offers dramatic views down onto the remains of the long-sunken crater of an extinct volcano. The road continues down to Pollara, where the annual Sagra del Cappero, Festival of the Caper, is held the first weekend of June (in the piazza in front of the church of Sant'Onofrio). The spectacular beach beneath Pollara, with its towering wall of striated rock, was one of the sites in the 1994 movie Il Postino. Sadly no longer accessible because of the risk of landslide of the spectacular overhanging ledge, it is best seen from the water. Just beyond the spur after the beach at Pollara, and only accessible by boat, is a pretty rock arch carved by millennia of pounding waves.
Close to the inland town of Leni (the third administrative district of the island), little Rinella, in the center of the southern coast, is a port of call for some hydrofoils. The pizzeria Da Marco is a popular destination for a cheap supper.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.