The Aeolian Islands or Lipari Islands are a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily, named after the demigod of the winds Aeolus. The locals residing on the islands are known as Eolians (Italian: Eoliani). The Aeolian Islands are a popular tourist destination in the summer, and attract up to 200,000 visitors annually. The largest island is Lipari. The other islands include Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea and Basiluzzo. Geography The present shape of the Aeolian Islands is the result of volcanic activity over a period of 260,000 years. There are two active volcanoes – Stromboli and Vulcano. The volcanic activity of steaming fumaroles and thermal waters are on most of the islands. Only the one on Stromboli, the northernmost island, is still active. Scientifically the archipelago is defined as a “volcanic arc”. Geology explains the origin of the Aeolian Islands is due to movement of the Earth’s crust as a result of plate tectonics. The African continental shelf is in constant movement towards Europe. The resulting collision has created a volcanic area with ruptures in the Earth’s crust with consequent eruptions of magma. The “Eolian Arc” extends for more than 140 kilometres, but the area of geological instability caused by the collision of Africa and Europe is very much larger. It includes Sicily, Calabria, Campania together with Greece and the Aegean islands. The complex of the eight Aeolian Islands, covering an area of 1,600 square kilometres, originated from a great plain at the bottom of the Tyrrhenian sea. Emissions of lava from depths of up to 3,600 metres resulted in the formation of the Eolian Islands, together with Ustica and a series of submarine volcanoes named Magnani, Vavilov, Marsili and Palinuro, as well as two that are unnamed.
During the Bronze Age, the Aeolian Islands prosper by means of maritime commerce in an area extending from Mycenae to the British isles, from where tin was imported. Villages on the Aeolian Islands flourished on Capo Graziano (Filicudi), Castello (Lipari), Serro dei Cianfi (Salina), Capo Milazzese (Panarea), and Portella (Salina). All these settlements are destroyed by the new Italic invasions in 1250 BC.
1240 – 850 BC
The Aeolian Islands are occupied by the Ausonians led by Liparus. Liparus is succeeded by Aeolus whose house, according to Homer, gave hospitality to Odysseus.
6th – 4th century BC
In 580 BC Greek exiles from Rhodes and Knidos land at Lipari and begin a period of Greek domination, which was known for acts of piracy against Etruscan and Phoenician shipping. Fine work in the production of vases and other ceramics.
3rd c. BC – 3rd c. AD
The islanders are allies of the Carthaginians against Rome. The Romans sack Lipari and their domination leads to a period of decadence and poverty.
4th – 10th century AD
At the fall of the Roman empire, the Aeolian Islands came under the sway of the Barbarian Visigoths, the Vandals and the Ostrogoths, followed by the harsh domination of the Byzantine empire. In the year 264, a coffin containing the body of Bartholomew is washed upon the beach of Lipari, with the result that Bartholomew is immediately elected the Patron Saint of the Aeolian Islands. Calogerus the hermit was active on Lipari during the first half of the 4th century and he gave his name to the thermal springs. In 836 the Saracens sack Lipari, massacre the population, and enslave the survivors.
11th – 15th century AD
The Normans liberate Sicily from the Arabs and lay the foundations of a period of good government and renewal. King Ruggero sends the Benedictine monks to Lipari, who give rise to considerable development on the islands. A cathedral dedicated to Saint Bartholomew is built together with the Benedictine monastery in the castle. Lipari becomes a bishopric and agriculture makes progress in Salina, as well as the smaller islands. In 1208 Frederick the 2nd of Swabia accedes to the throne of Sicily. The period of prosperity which follows, and is consolidated during the course of his reign, ends with the domination of the Angevins and the rebellion of the Sicilians culminating in the revolt of the Sicilian Vespers. The Aeolians however, remained loyal to Charles of Anjou, and commercial links are established with Naples, the capital of the Angevin kingdom. In 1337 Lipari opens its gates to the French fleet without resistance, and in return obtains various commercial and fiscal benefits. In the middle of the 15th century, Naples and Palermo unite in the Kingdom of the two Sicilies under the crown of Alfonso V of Aragon. The Aeolian privileges are recognized. Aeolian privateers fight with the Spanish against the French.
16th – 20th century AD
On June 30, 1544, a fleet of 180 Turkish vessels under the command of the great corsair Ariadeno Barbarossa occupies Lipari and lay siege to the castle. The desperate defense of Lipari is no match for the terrible havoc caused by the Muslim cannonade, and the defenders surrender. 9,000 of the 10,000 citizens of Lipari are captured and enslaved. Many were already killed while others are finished off while attempting to escape. A number of citizens were ransomed in Messina and returned to the islands. Only after the tragedy, do the Spanish authorities turn their attention to Lipari and repopulate the city with Sicilian, Calabrian and Spanish families. The city walls and houses are rebuilt and an Eolian fleet is constructed which is able to successfully defend the Tyrrhenian Sea from the Turks. At the beginning of the year 1693, an earthquake destroyed all the towns in eastern Sicily causing 140,000 deaths. After the population invoked the protection of Saint Bartholomew during prayers in the cathedral, there was not a single victim on the Aeolian Islands. The economic conditions of the islands improve greatly during the 17th century with agricultural progress (malvasia grapes, Capers, excellent variety of fruit, vegetables and fishing). With the Bourbons comes the affliction of criminal and political prisoners. This unhappy imposition continues and worsens until the unification of Italy. In 1916, the penal colony is closed but the fascist regime tries to reopen it in 1926 – in vain. The island population reacts by pulling down the remains of the ex-penitentiary in the castle. However, not long after, the castle is converted to accommodate anti-fascist politicals in enforced exile. Liparians fraternized with these exiles until the Liberation. After the war, the same room that had housed the opponents of fascism became the Eolian Archaeological Museum. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Aeolian Islands were visited by Duke Luigi Salvatore of Austria – a friend of the islands and also a man with a profound knowledge of the archipelago. Between the years 1893-96 he published a work of eight volumes on the Aeolian Islands. In August 1888, the crater named Fossa on Vulcano erupted and caused many deaths in the sulphur mines. The eruptions continued for 19 months.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The Aeolian Islands are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
HERE ARE SEEN BY GUY DE MAUPASSANT
“We leave Messina at midnight, in a wretched steamboat,, where the first-class passengers cannot even find a seat on deck. There is not a breath of air; the boat alone disturbs the stillness of the night. The shores of Sicily and those of Calabria exhale such a powerful odor of Â blossoming orange trees that the whole of the channel is perfumed by it. We soon leave the city behind us, and pass between Scylla and Charybdis; the mountains about us are lower, and above them appears the flat and snowy summit of Mount Etna, silvery in the light of the full moon. We doze a little, lulled by the monotonous noise of the ship’s paddles, and open our eyes to find it is already day. Opposite us are the Lipari Islands. The first on the left and the last on the right emit a thick white smoke. They are the Volcano and the Stromboli. Between these two volcanoes, we see the Lipari, the Filicuri, the Alicuri, and a few other low and small islands. The boat stops before the island and town of Lipari. There are just a few white houses, at the foot of a green hill. Nothing else, not even an inn, can be found, for strangers never land here. The place is fruitful and charming, surrounded by beautiful rocks of a peculiar shape and of a deep though soft red. There are mineral waters, which made it a popular resort in bygone days, but the bishop Todaso had the baths destroyed, so as to remove his people from the wealth and influence of strangers. Lipari ends on the north side in an unusually white mountain, which we should take for a mountain of snow were it in a colder country. This supplies pumice stone to the whole world. I hired a boat with four oarsmen, to go and see the island of Volcano. Our route follows the fertile coast, which is planted with vines. The reflection of the red rocks in the blue sea is a strange sight. We pass through the little strait that divides the two islands. The crest of the island of Volcano rises above the waves, like a submerged crater. It is a small, uncultivated island, whose peak is about 1200 feet high, and it has a surface of Â twenty square kilometers. We go around another small island, the Volcanello, which rose abruptly from the sea about the year 200 B.C., and is united to the larger island by a narrow strip of land, overflowed by the waves on stormy days. We are now in a deep bay facing the smoking crater. At its foot is a house occupied by an Englishman who is sleeping evidently, or else I could never climb this volcano, which this manufacturer is exploiting; but he sleeps, and so I cross a large kitchen garden, then some vineyards belonging to the Englishman, then again a forest of blossoming gorse. One would say it was a scarf of yellow, draped about Â the sharp cone, whose top is also of the same blinding color under the glare of the sun. I ascend by a narrow path, steep and slippery, winding through cinders and lava. Â As in Switzerland we sometimes see a stream falling from the top of a mountain, so here we find an unruffled cascade of sulfur that has poured out through the crevices. They are fairy-like streams of congealed light, the fluid rays of the sun. I finally reached the crest, where a large platform surrounds the crater. The earth quakes, and in front of me, from an opening the size of a man’s head, issues with terrific force an immense jet of flame and steam, while from the edge of this hole pours the liquid sulfur, gilded by the fire. It forms immediately around this fantastical spring into a yellow lake. Farther away, other crevices throw out white vapors, which rise slowly in the blue atmosphere. I advance with care on the hot cinders and lava as far as the edge of the crater, and the most wonderful sight here greets the eye. Deep in this immense well, called “The Fossa”(the Pit), which is 1500 feet wide and about 600 feet (200 mts) deep, from a dozen giant fissures and round holes pour fire, smoke and sulfur, with a noise as of Â a steam-engine. I go down the sides of this abyss and walk along the edge of the volcano. Everything is yellow round about and under our feet- a blinding, maddening, yellowish glare. The ground is yellow, the high walls and even the sky itself. The yellow sun pours its brilliant light into this raging whirlpool; the heat from which burns like a scald. And the yellow liquid boils, and we see dazzling crystals and strange acids on the edge of this furnace. “
Excerpt from the chapter on Sicily of “The wandering life” by Guy de Maupassan
4000 – 2500 BC
First evidence of Sicilian migration in Lipari (Castellaro Vecchio). Manufacture and commerce of obsidian objects was highly developed until introduction of metals.
1600- 1250 BC
A unique scenery to enjoy your happy hour or special dinner at anchor in a charming bay.
The AEOLIAN ISLANDS are of volcanic origin and they set in stunning intense dark blue waters, wrapped in glittering reflections.
An innovative project that sums it all up, earth and sea, where everything is really included and allows you to synthesize in a true glance the essence of Sicily..
Stromboli by Night
This is a unique opportunity to visit one of Mother Natureâ€™s most spectacular shows: the eruption of the Stromboli volcano.