Alicudi Island: Flying Women and LSD
Why choose the island of Alicudi among all the islands of the Aeolian archipelago?
Alicudi Island is perfect for a no-frills retreat, but its shocking past lends a mixed meaning to superstition and real-life stories.
In Alicudi there are no streets, no boutiques, no ATMs. Just thousands of starlit stone steps, a dozen tireless donkeys.
Alicudi is one of those places where time has stopped. Even today we only move on foot along the steep mule tracks that, from the port, run through the whole town until reaching the top of the mountain. Alicudi has no paths or roads that run along its perimeter. The only paths are present on the eastern side and connect the houses and arable land; the western side is totally uninhabited.
All this makes the island of Alicudi a perfect place to spend your holidays.
The island of LSD
Until the 1950s, however, the locals ate bread contaminated with an amazing rye fungus called “ergot”, favored by the sultry climate.
Ergot is the basic building block of LSD. In fact, before the Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann chemically synthesized the drug in 1938, Alicudi was a natural laboratory where the narcotic fungus wreaked havoc on the population.
Generations of villagers have been fed the so-called “mad rye” or “ergot”, named after the pointed black devil-horn-like ends the mushroom produces on rye ears.
Village women made hallucinogenic bread every morning, serving children and husbands their daily dose of LSD. All the islanders got high without even knowing it.
The Flying Women of Alicudi
These hallucinogenic phenomena have led to legends of flying witches. In fact, the first thing that catches the eye when arriving on the island of Alicudi is the harbor walls painted with images of flying women dressed in long black robes, hair blowing in the wind, closed eyes, and a smile on their faces.
The Origins of Alicudi
The ancient Greeks first colonized Alicudi calling it Ericusa, “the purple island”, due to its abundance of indigo heath that covers the crater of the extinct volcano. In fact, the color purple, in the Italian superstition, is a bearer of ill omen.
In the past, Alicudi’s isolation was extreme and still is today.
Visitors are drawn to Alicudi’s primitive atmosphere, crystal clear water, bright houses, and picturesque harbor lined with small fishing boats. But despite its bizarre atmosphere and its past, Alicudi is an incredible corner of paradise on earth.
What to see
Scalo Palumbo is the port of Alicudi and was built in 1990. In the port area, there are two grocery stores, the post office, some other basic necessities shops, and also the only beach within walking distance.
Contrada Tonna is located in the westernmost part of the island where there is a small cluster of rural houses.
San Bartolo is located 330m above sea level. It is a district developed around the church dedicated to the patron saint of the Aeolian Islands.
In the Pianicello area, at an altitude of 450m in the westernmost part of the town, there is a small district, the population is German-speaking and lives on the island almost all year round.
At the same height as San Bartolo, on the east side of the town, is the Contrada Sgurbio, a small urban agglomeration consisting of only 5 houses that take their name from the 5 senses. It is an almost inaccessible district.
What to do
Snorkeling e Diving
There are numerous tourist proposals to visit the island of Alicudi: diving and snorkeling are very popular activities in Alicudi. The sea of Alicudi is particularly wild, clear, and uncontaminated like that of the nearby island of Filicudi.
Alicudi is the island of those who love the mountains, solitude, nature, and long walks along the many paths and mule tracks of the island.
The Beaches and the Sea of Alicudi
The only beach within walking distance is the Beach of Scalo Palumbo, near the port of Alicudi. All others are inlets that can only be reached from the sea.
The circumnavigation of the island of Alicudi offers extraordinary marine and landscape attractions. It starts from Scalo Palumbo, the port of Alicudi and runs through the island in an anti-clockwise direction. There are also caves, small beaches and many places where you can drop anchor and enjoy the crystal clear sea and relaxation.
The Cuisine of Alicudi
The cuisine of Alicudi, like the whole Aeolian archipelago, is affected by influences due to the constant invasions of history. Alicudi has a simple and genuine cuisine, but it varies in dishes and preparations.
How to get
The island of Alicudi is connected with Milazzo and the Catania airport.
The largest number of trips and excursions to the island of Alicudi from Sicily depart from the port of Milazzo. It is possible to reach Alicudi both with ferries of the Siremar company and with faster means of Liberty Lines. For a more active holiday, the Excursions to the island of Alicudi from Milazzo are not to be missed.
It is also possible to reach the island of Alicudi from Taormina and Cefalù with daily excursions. Visit SiciliaEscursioni.com.