We often tend to travel to the other side of the world to deliver media projects, but this time, we opted to go somewhere closer to home, and Southern Italy seemed to be the perfect location for a winter shoot. Kilian came up with the idea of exploring the Aeolian Islands, a small volcanic archipelago between Sicily and Italy.
Our only transportation to the location was a fifteen-metre sailing ship, This ship also housed all seven of us on this two-week adventure, meaning no comfortable hotel rooms and limited personal space, but a speedy way of getting acquainted with each other.
Five in the morning, the alarm was ringing. Our boat was parked in a harbour south of Lipari’s island. Our plan was to shoot at the top of an old stone pit before sunrise but we didn’t have high hopes after waking up to rain. We still decided to go and after a short taxi ride to reach the other side of the island, we started our ascent by night, straight up the hill. We made it in time and the sun luckily peeked from under the clouds for an hour.
An abandoned pumice quarry was the perfect playground for us. Being in those rises was really special as it seemed the place had been deserted one day, and everything was left untouched. Excavators, electrical system, cars, papers, we count find a big of everything while roaming in the area. It wasn’t safe though, as the ground was really uneven, and could collapse anywhere at any time. Scrap was all over the place.
It took us a night of navigation to reach the Island of Stromboli. The weather forecast was good when we left Lipari, but after an hour on the sea, we got caught in high wind and big swell. Waves were going above the deck and we all started to feel really small in the middle of the sea. It was a rough night of fighting seasickness, but we made it in one piece and landed on the island at sunrise.
An active volcano really is something special. As soon as we stepped on the island, we could feel that it wasn’t just a regular mountain. You could really hear the sound of the eruptions, even from the beach. Hiking the Stromboli in the middle of the night to be at the top at sunrise was a real mission, with almost a thousand meters of elevation, a foot deep in the sand. Adrenaline was at its highest level when we reached the crater, being this close was scary but also fascinating. We knew the volcano could totally explode at any time. Every ten to fifteen minutes, lava comes out the crater with an insanely loud sound similar to a jet fighter. The molten rocks are violently thrown in the air at almost a hundred meters high.
This little creek was the perfect place to chill out after a long night on the volcano. Kilian couldn’t stay calm though and started diving off the surrounding cliffs.
Vulcano is an explosive-type volcano, which makes it one of the most dangerous on earth. It was so windy at the top that the stones were taking off from the ground and the toxic fumes were being blown in every direction. If you got caught in the middle of the smokes, it was like being underwater, without being able to breathe. Finding the way out was a nightmare as the cloud shape was constantly changing. Like drowning in the smoke. The toxic gas was going out of a volcanic fault filled with sulfur, giving a yellow look to the whole area.