We're into our second round of Mojitos at our second club this evening here on the chic island of Panarea. The zombie like beat of the house mix drowns all meaningful conversation so we're left to observe the scene we've now become a part of. Throbbing tanned youth, barely dressed, glance and giggle at one another, their Androids and iPhones ever active. Meanwhile the stylish Mediterranean gentry practice parsing each others social status with gazes of indifferent smugness. Strolling the whitewashed stone streets past lavish gardens, stylish shops and pricey restaurants while wearing a thousand euros worth of tailored linen is "the thing" here.
From our rooftop night club vantage point, we can see the volcano on nearby Stromboli erupting through the darkness; an intense red glow with a garnish of bright orange bits shooting out. We'd anchored there earlier in the day and had enjoyed viewing the eruption up close. The sound was the most ominous feature, like the howl of a wild wolf in a forest you're actually standing in, it's the kind of sound that strikes a person to the core. As remarkable an experience as it was, the crew are still cleaning up from the shower of ash; volcanic pumice is vicious stuff- like diamond dust.
Don't get me wrong, Panarea is a beautiful a place with fabulous food, and after visiting Capri the other day I can see why places like Panarea have taken the title of elite playground. The glory days of Capri have passed. There are the echoes of Jackie O, Mick, and Bianca, but mostly Capri these days is little more than a stylish shopping mall stuffed to the gills with ordinary tourists craving a taste of what it must have been like when this place was cool. Panarea on the other hand enjoys the kind of off-the-radar exclusivity that makes visiting here rather special, you know you've been to such a place when none of your friends have ever heard of it.
Our Med summer is now flying by like a four alarm Italian fire brigade. Two days ago we enjoyed a private tour on the hilltop farm of one of Italy's most celebrated chefs; Don Alfonso holds two Michelin stars- sounds very posh- but mostly we spent the time discussing the art of growing olives in order to extract the finest oil. Sig. Alfonso owns restaurants in Italy, Macao, Dubai, and Marrakech, the produce from the farm supplying all of them. He's clearly happiest when he's working his land, accompanied by his beloved string of hounds. There could be so much more to tell, but too much telling is sure to be a boring experience. More of these Aoelian Islands to come, and then of course there is Sicilia.
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