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Living on a Time Bomb

Talk about an unlikely place to call home. The tiny island of Stromboli, off the coast of Sicily, has been erupting constantly for over 20,000 years. And yet people still live there, as many as 850 in fact. And tourists are even invited there – at their own risk.

Living on a Time Bomb...................(stromboli3.jpg)

The island of Stromboli, only 12.6 sq km in size, is something of a natural wonder. Its resident volcano is one of the only constantly active volcanoes in the world, and explodes dozens of times every day. When it does, it sends ash and lava fragments in to the air, and occasional rivers of lava into the sea. Pretty dramatic stuff, but not life-threatening – well, not that often anyway.

Over the last century, there have been only three or four major explosions that have claimed lives and destroyed homes on the island. The last big one occured in 2003, and, as a result, the island was closed off to tourists for two years afterwards. Another burst happened in April of 2009.

Tourists? Apparently so. According to local law, you can visit the volcano (tours are available), but you can't stay on top of the summit for more than an hour. The hike up is vigorous and takes about three hours. Many people go at sunset and hike back down in the dark. With flashlights, and great care.

Living on a Time Bomb...................(stromboli2.jpg)

And, rather amazingly, there are hotels on the island. A few of them. And they look nice. Check them out. RM

Images: NASA (Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC); Wikipedia Wolfgang Beyer; Wikipedia Tommaso Checchi; Wikipedia Tim Bekaert

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  • Kevin

    April 15, 2010

    I’ve been here! It is absolutely amazing. Black sand beaches are fantastic. I hiked to the top of the volcano for sunset and came down in the dark! I rented a local’s room for 10 euro! So great!

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