The persistent explosive activity of Stromboli volcano (Italy) ceased in December 2002 and correlated with the onset of a seven-month-long effusive eruption on the volcano flank from new vents that opened just below the summit craters. We intensively monitored this effusive event, collecting and interpreting, in real time, an extensive multiparametric geophysical data set. The resulting data synergy allowed detailed insights into the conduit dynamics that drove the eruption and the transition back to the typical Strombolian activity. We present a direct link between gas flux, magma volume flux, and seismicity, supporting a gas driven model whereby the balance between gas flux and gas overpressure determines whether the system will support effusive or explosive activity. This insight enabled us to monitor the migration of the magma column up the conduit and to explain the onset of explosive activity.