Famed for the stark and beautiful volcanic terrain that helped them earn UNESCO World Heritage status, the Aeolian Islands lie just off Sicily’s northern coast in the Tyrrhenian Sea. And like Sicily itself, the eight islands—named for Aeolus, the god of the winds—were populated in Neolithic times and then later by ancient Greek settlers. That rugged terrain would also appeal to pirates who used the islands as bases, as well as to film directors who chose them as locations for classic Italian movies. The active volcano Stromboli starred alongside Ingrid Bergman in Roberto Rossellini’s film named after the island, while Vulcano, with the great Anna Magnani, was shot on Salina.The largest of the Aeolian Islands, Lipari, measures a mere 36 square kilometers (14 square miles), which makes its tallest peak, Mount Chirica, at 602 meters (1,975 feet), seem especially imposing. For such a stony place, there are a surprising number of fine-sand beaches, some that are reachable only by boat. Not surprisingly, fresh fish is abundant, often prepared with capers and olives, while a popular sheep's milk cheese comes from the island’s interior and the grapes for local Malvasia wines are grown on the volcanic slopes.