The history of the Aeolian Islands: the islands of the Volcanoes.

 

The Aeolian Islands (Lipari, Salina, Vulcano, Stromboli, Panarea, Alicudi and Filicudi) are seven magnificent sisters off the north-eastern coast of Sicily. The Aeolian Islands were submarine volcanoes that emerged from the waters about 700,000 years ago in the following order: Panarea, Filicudi, Alicudi, Salina, Lipari, Vulcano and lastly Stromboli which is perhaps about 40,000 years old. The last emersion was that of Vulcanello (peninsula of the island of Vulcano) in 183 BC. The eruptions and volcanic phenomena have followed one another over the millennia. Leading to the formation of very different minerals, such as pumice stone and obsidian.

In ancient times the obsidian extracted in Lipari was exported all over the Mediterranean.
Towards the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age the island of Lipari was occupied by various Italic populations and, later, suffered numerous raids by the Etruscans, but a turning point in the history of the islands occurs with the beginning of Greek colonization.In 580 B.C. some refugees coming from the Spartan colony of Cnido (Asia Minor) landed in Lipari and together with the local populations they succeeded in opposing the Etruscan raids. Allied with the Carthaginians in the I Punic War, it was repeatedly attacked by the Roman fleet. In 252 B.C. the Roman consul Caio Aurelio succeeded in submitting the islands to Rome.
After the fall of the Roman Empire the islands went through a period of decadence. The Byzantine domination accentuated this decadence. The Arab occupation from 827 to 1061 coincided with a further phase of decadence. With the Normans, however, there was a new economic development of the islands. In 1131 the Episcopal seat was reconstituted in Lipari. Until 1340, passing through the Swabians, Angevins and Aragonese, the Aeolian Islands enjoyed considerable prosperity thanks to the privileges that the various governments were dispensing.

In 1544 a Turkish fleet, after eleven days of siege, destroyed Lipari, bringing about 8,000 inhabitants into slavery. In 1691 alone, the number of inhabitants returned to around 10,000 after a slow reconstruction. At the beginning of the 19th century Lipari became the obligatory port of call for several shipping lines, promoting the economic development of the Aeolian Islands and their demographic growth.

Today, the mining industry (pumice), agriculture (capers, Malvasia wine), fishing and tourism are the main sources of income for the inhabitants of the Aeolian Islands. In 2000 they were declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian archipelago. Very close to Vulcano, it is an island that does not hibernate in winter, like the other smaller and less inhabited islands. The town of Lipari is lively and often clogged with cars. Given the distances involved, it is not easy to get around on foot on this island. In addition to the warm and secluded beaches, the vast landscapes and the characteristic
istic walls of pumice that plunge into the sea, Lipari also offers a real countryside, inhabited by country people. For those who love history, art and culture, the Museo Eoliano of Lipari is the ideal environment.
Fascinating is its location in the ancient Spanish castle, erected after the conquest and fierce sacking of the island in 1544 at the hands of the Saracens. Next to the museum is the beautiful cathedral which houses the silver statue of St. Bartholomew, patron saint of the Aeolian Islands. The Museo Eoliano preserves many finds and treasures of the millenary history of the islands.

♪ Volcano ♪ is a fumigating island of impressive beauty. In the 50s, it was the French who discovered it from a tourist point of view, for the suggestions created by the film "Stromboli" directed by Roberto Rossellini. It's the mythical Vulcania where, according to Virgil, there was Vulcan's forge. It is not an island of fishermen but of farmers and shepherds who live in the verdant Piano. There is a good road network, but to disembark with the vehicles during the summer season you must have a permit issued by the local authorities.

Panarea ♪ Many consider it the most beautiful island of the Aeolian Islands; surely it is the most snobbish. Many are the villas bought by rich and famous people; suggestive and frequented by wealthy yacht vacationers, is the beach of Cala Junco. The worldliness can be found in the tingling little square of the pier and in the narrow streets around, where boutiques and meeting places abound, the most famous of which is called Raya.

Stromboli is a volcanic cone laid in the sea with an uncontaminated appearance, the ideal destination for those who love adventure. In Stromboli you can walk and sleep on an active volcano, at the top of which you can climb with local guides. From the mouth of the crater the spectacle at night is impressive: the lapilli come out of the crater at regular intervals and the lava and glowing stones pour down the Sciara di Fuoco. Vans are used for the transport of goods and mopeds can be hired.

Salina ♪ this island is appreciated for its secluded character that the green vegetation and inaccessible coasts contribute to enhance. A means of transport is required to reach the various population centres. The highest peak, the Fossa delle Felci, is almost a thousand metres above sea level. Some scenes from the movie "The Postman" were shot here. In its countryside capers and vineyards are cultivated: the sweet wine "Malvasia" is very famous.

Filicudi ♪ was formerly known as Phoenicusa (rich in ferns).

Ideal place for those who love the "strong" sea and holidays not massified. On the island there are three volcanoes no longer active: the Fossa delle Felci (773 metres), the Montagnola (333 metres) and the Torrione (280 metres).

Characteristic is the shape of the island with a promontory called Capo Graziano, where there are archaeological settlements dating back to the 16th century BC. Along the route to Alicudi there is the "Canna": an imposing stacks 85 metres high.

Alicudi ♪ even more rugged and lonely than Filicudi, has largely inaccessible, uninhabited coasts on the north-west side. A single inhabited center, a few pastel-colored houses scattered at the foot of the mountain that culminates with the Filo dell'Arpa, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view. It's a real wild paradise: just think that the electricity has only been coming in for a few years.

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