A tiny Aeolian neighborhood clinging to the hillside, Hotel Raya is set amidst the surrounding bougainvilleas, olive and lemon trees, with its terraces stretching out towards Stromboli, the volcanic island immortalized by the great Italian director Rossellini and indeed by the Lord himself; opposite, Basiluzzo, Dattilo, Lisca Bianca, Bottaro and the Formiche rocks rise up from the friendly waves.
Widely described as a “Cult Hotel”, the Raya’s owner simply sees it as a place where lovers of nature and peace and quiet can finally feel in tune with themselves. Chosen by guests from all over the world as the winner of the Marco Polo Award for the finest hotel de charme in the Mediterranean.
Created in the 1960s, with a layout specially conceived by Paolo and Myriam, who divided the hotel into three different parts, all close by one another:
Raya Alto: 30 rooms with large terraces that look out over the sea, where Vulcano and the islets that encircle the island rise majestically up from the shimmering waters of the sea with its ever-changing shades of blue. The small bar offers guests a perfect start to the day, serving a superb à la carte breakfast from the early hours of the morning.
Il Raya basso: less than five minutes’ walk down the hill, just over 100 meters from the sea as the crow flies. Described in the WWF’s Italia Da Salvare dossier as “a perfect example of assimilation into a rural-urban setting”, this beautiful house has six comfortably furnished rooms on the upper floor, each with a splendid terrace, 3 of them overlooking the sea and 3 facing onto the hillside. Spread out on the ground floor is the spacious boutique created by Myriam Beltrami.
Raya Peppe Maria: which stretches out over the sea below. The name, Italian for “Joe and Mary”, comes from a little white chapel that once hosted the Holy Couple and today is home to Mary alone – “for reasons of decorum”, the local parish priest explained with a smile some years ago. Here guests will find the “service area” upon their arrival at the hotel.
On the highest of the terraces, from 6 to 9 pm, guests can enjoy an exquisite aperitif as they admire the myriad of nuances created by the sun as it sinks down behind the island, its rays glistening on the cliffs in front.
Expert analysis shows that the naturally hot hyper thermal, hypotonic waters of the pools are of prehistoric origin, with their salt and therapeutic powers coming from within the earth.
From their travels around the world, Myriam and Paolo had always brought home ideas and objects to enhance the distinctive style of their hotel on Panarea and make it increasingly comfortable for guests.
But when they discovered Bali, still an unspoiled paradise at the time, they decided to settle there for much of the year.
Myriam fell in love with the beautiful Batik technique of painting on fabric, whose Indonesian cultural heritage has been recognized by Unesco, and she had her own designs – some of them inspired by the traditional patterns of the Sunda islands – printed onto the silks she brought from her home town. This was how her splendid fabrics and fabulous clothes came to be created.
These creations have been produced for many years now, and the Raya® boutiques now attract holidaymakers from all over the world, who return to the island year after year to see what’s new in Myriam’s collections, or come in search of furniture and other pieces from the colonial period in the antique shops, taking home stone and wooden statues, paintings and an array of other options either to adorn their own homes or as a much appreciated gift for friends.
Is the smallest and the lowest of the Aeolian islands. The highest point is Timpone del Corvo, at an altitude of 421 meters.
Together with Basiluzzo, Spinazzola, Lisca Bianca, Dattilo, Bottaro, Lisca Nera, the Panarelli and the Formiche rocks, it forms a small archipelago that lies approximately mid-way between Lipari and Stromboli.
Panarea is covered in Mediterranean maquis vegetation, rich in prickly pear, agave, genista and capers, and with numerous century-old olive trees. The crystal-clear seas boast endless nuances of color.
The most alluring spot on Panarea is the exclusive Cala Junco bay, on the southernmost tip of the island, with a picturesque beach surrounded by rock walls formed by incandescent lava; at the top is the prehistoric village.
The houses on the island are grouped into three areas: San Pietro, Ditella and Drautto.
The main road that crosses Panarea from north to south is closed to cars, and weaves its way in and out the houses, offering some fabulous views, such as Stromboli and the cliffs that face the island.
A series of paths and mule-tracks marked by lentisk, caper and myrtle bushes lead to Timpone del Corvo, from the top of which are unrivaled views out over the whole of the Aeolian archipelago.
Small motor boats can be hired directly from the local fishermen, allowing visitors to explore the marvelous Cala Junco bay and the islets of the little archipelago. There is a small sandy beach that can be reached on foot (about 20 minutes’ walk from the port) or by using the electric taxi service.
There are no banks on the island. There are two ATM machines, but visitors are advised to bring cash for minor expenses, especially in the high season.
NO CREDIT CARD NECESSARY
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By ship from Naples: 12h
By hydrofoil from Naples: 4h30m
By hydrofoil from Palermo: 4h30m
By hydrofoil from Reggio Calabria: 3h
By hydrofoil from Messina: 2h45m
By hydrofoil from Milazzo: 1h45m
By helicopter (From Catania, Reggio Calabria, Palerme, Naples airports)
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