The main town of Stromboli is at the bottom tip of the island in the above pic, we stayed at a cute little bed and breakfast. Everything is painted white, with vibrant gardens and very charming, kinda funny since its surrounded by black volcanic rock and black sand beaches.
It was a harrowing trip, with choppy seas threatening to prevent us from getting to the distant island, and windy weather at the top of the volcano causing our tour troup to be canceled, but in the end we decided to trek up to the highest point you can without a tour, the Sciara del Fuoco ("Stream of fire"), a big horseshoe-shaped depression generated in the last 13,000 years by several collapses on a side of the volcanic cone. We started hiking around 6pm and made it there within 90 minutes despite the winding, rocky path which snaked around the edge of the island.
A very tasty dinner after all that hiking, I was dying of thirst!
As the sunset on the ocean, we started to see glimpses of the glowing red magma. They really werent kidding when they said that it was continously active. Every 10-15 minutes or so we would see something like the above picture, I was so delighted we could appreciate it from the bottom of the volcano but also was jealous of those that stayed on the viewing platform much closer to the top. As night fell, those travelers strapped on their head lights (we got one too) and were making their way down the mountain like little fireflies. We sat at the restaurant for a long time just admiring the volcano and wanting to stay for the next explosion.. and the next and the next.. til we realized we should probably hike our way home. Because the island is so small, isolated, and energy concious, there were no street lights, but we and all the inhabitants were walking about with our flashlights and the quiet town. It was magical to appreciate the night sky filled with stars (little to no light pollution) and realize we were right next to an active volcano. wow, what a memorable experience!