Is it worth the time and trouble to see and if so, how long a visit to get a good peek?
Jill, I have twice been to the Aeolian islands, staying on Lipari both times. First trip 2 nights, second trip 4. Lipari is a good base if you want to visit Vulcano or Stromboli. There are charter boats/cruises. I buzzed around on a Vespa one day - great fun. I haven't hiked up to a crater yet, but the swimming in greatand I have done a lot of walking. You can be as lazy or energetic as you like. I have stayed at the Gattapardo Hotel, and at Diana Brown's B&B. Lonely Planet have a whole book on Sicily.
The Aeolian Islands are always worth the time. You could easily spend a week on the islands, but for a peek, stay a minimum of 2 nights, but 3 nights would be better. Lipari is a good base. Lipari is the largest island. It's close to Vulcano and you would be able to take a charter to Stromboli.
Thank you for your replies! Great info.