The Aeolian Islands are situated off the north coast of Sicily, not far from the entrance to the Straits of Messina. They can be reached by a daily service of steamboats from the port of Milazzo, 20 miles west of Messina. There is a daily train, called Freccia di Sul, that goes direct from Milan to Palermo, stopping at Milazzo; The northernmost of the islands is Stromboli with its famous active volcano. The chief town is Lipari on the island of that name; here on its acropolis excavations directed by Professor Bernabo Brea on behalf of the Soprintendenza alle Antichita della Sicilia Orientale have revealed a stratified succession of huts, ranging from the neolithic period down to Hellenistic, Roman and modern times. These excavations and others on other islands have shown that, small though they be, the islands once played an important part in the culture of the western Mediterranean.