Above the Volcanoes

A trip to the Aeolian Islands

Local fish, fresh lemons, good wine…The seven Aeolian Islands in the South of Italy have that Mediterranean flair – through and through. Adi Geisegger and Melanie Weber travelled to the Lipari peninsula and visited Antonio Lo Duca. In their bags: two XI light wings. Their goal: to explore the islands from the air, with local pilots.

"The coastal landscape approached quite quickly. A salty sea breeze blew in our faces as we sped in the speedboat from Milazzo to Lipari, one of the seven Aeolian Isands", recounts Adi Geisegger. From far away the islands shone bright white. Years ago, snowlike pumice stone was quarried here, and shipped worldwide. Kilometer-long canyons, reaching all over the island, remain.

Arriving at the island the pair were welcomed by Antonio La Duca. Adi and Melanie had got to know the Sicilian paraglider pilot during a trip to Sicily. Then, he had enthused about flying conditions at the Aeolian Islands. Three years later Adi and Melanie were at last about to find out about these conditions for themselves, and looked forward to meeting Antonio again at the Lipari dockside. Exuberantly he greeted the two, and forecast the best of weather for the following day.

„Straight away Melanie and I were delighted with the forecast, naturally. Would we really be getting in the air next day? I was pleased that I had made an early touring plan at home via Google Earth. Our idea is to walk through one of the canyons to the takeoff.“

Adi Geisegger

Adi, Melanie and Antonio set out from the beach in Canneto. They wanted to follow the canyon for about three kilometers to reach the Monte Saint Angelo takeoff at 594 metres. The ravine is a few hundred metres deep. The unique nature of the stone seems both fascinating and malevolent, at the same time. The higher they climb the wider the landscape becomes, and the view over the remaining six islands opens up. A sense of Mediterranean ambiance builds. Here, higher up, the stone gradually changes. Volcanic obsidian replaces pumice.

„As we walk towards the launch site, we pass the volcano. Almost mystically, a shallow smoke rises from it, the smell of sulphur becomes more and more intense.“

Adi Geisegger

Once they take off an incredible view reveals itself. "Beneath us are the snow-white canyons contrasting with green bushes and trees. In front is the dark blue sea and in the distance you can see Stromboli and its active volcano", raved Adi, "Melanie’s yellow wing made a striking contrast to this whole scene: so vivid it’s almost too kitsch." With some luck it’s possible to circle up over their volcano and set off for the neighbouring island. Today conditions are not good enough for the trio to reach it, but they can enjoy a wonderful soaring flight with the view over the sea and a landing back on Canneto beach.

„We landed on the beach, where an apero is waiting to round off the day.“

Adi Geisegger

After this unique flight Adi, Melanie and Antonio are more than euphoric. They check tomorrow’s weather and see that it looks perfect for the next island’s volcano. But that is another story. First, the three should enjoy their aperitif, and toast the beautiful flight while letting their gaze take in the expansive view of the sea.

The Equipment

The Team

Melanie Weber

Melanie discovered paragliding seven years ago. As a Hike & Fly, paramotor and cross-country pilot she likes to explore new flying areas, and so found herself on this voyage of discovery.

Antonio La Duca

Antonio has been flying for over 20 years. When flying, he is fascinated by the third dimension and the new limits that can be discovered.

Adi Geisegger

Adi has been flying paragliders and hang gliders since the early 1990s. Since then the photographer and ­filmmaker can frequently be found with his paramotor.