Aeolian Islands Attractions Isole Eólie
CommunicationsShip connections between the islands and Messina, Milazzo, Naples; hydrofoil connections with Milazzo (all year) and in summer with Messina, Palermo, Cefalù and Naples.
LocationThe Aeolian Islands (Isole Lípari or Isole Eälie) lie off the north coast of Sicily, opposite Milazzo.CompositionThe islands are of volcanic origin, as is demonstrated by their geological composition, their fumaroles, thermal and sulfur springs, above all by the still active volcano on the island of Strämboli. The mountainous, rugged coasts are caused not only by the former volcanic activity on the islands, but also by the sea.Rising up from a depth of 4,000m/13,000ft, the archipelago consists of seven main islands, of which Vulcano is the nearest to the Sicilian coast. To its north lie Lípari and Salina. To the west are Filicudi and Alicudi , whilst northwest of Salina are the islands of Panarea and Strämboli.Size and inhabitantsIn size the islands vary between 3.4sq.km/1.3sq.mi with 270 inhabitants (Panarea) and 37.6sq.km/14.5sq.mi with 11,000 inhabitants (Lípari). The mountain heights vary from 420m/1,378ft (Panarea) and 962m/3,156ft (Salina). Altogether about 15,400 people live on these seven islands, to which can also be added a series of small islets and stacks. As there are only a few springs on the island of Vulcano and the wells merely provide water for agriculture, drinking water has to be supplied by tanker ships from Messina.MythologyAccording to the mythology of the Greeks and Romans, these islands were the home of Aiolos (Lat. Aeolus), hence their name, the Aeolian Islands. As Homer tells us (Odyssey, 10) Aiolos, the son of Hippolytes, was made the custodian of the winds by Zeus. This happened, as the Sicilian historian Diodor was to record much later, because Hippolytus taught sailors how to use sails and was able to use the signs from the volcanic fires to forecast changes in the winds. He lived in blissful happiness with his wife, six sons and six daughters on the inaccessible floating island of Aiolia. In Homer this is a fairy-tale island, in no fixed geographical position, with the characteristics of an island of the dead, although it is later identified with the Aeolian Islands.The islands can thus be connected with Homer's account of the visit of the wandering Odysseus to Aiolos: Aiolos gave Odysseus and his men shelter for a month and put the winds into a leather sack; however, the inquisitive companions opened the sack on continuing their journey, whereupon the storms which were unleashed drove them back to Aiolos' island, where they were turned unceremoniously away by the island's guardian. According to later authors such as Vergil (Aeneid 1,52), Ailos used his scepter to rule over the winds, which raged in a cave on the island of Lipara.NamesThis is why since ancient times the islands have been named the Aeolian Islands (Greek Aiolides, Latin Aeoli insulae, Aeoliae, Hephaestiades, Volcaniae). Individually they have had the names Lipara (today Lípari), Strongyle (Strämboli), Didyme (Salina), Phoinikussa (Filicudi), Erikusa (Alicudi), Hiera Hephaistou-Therasia/Thermesa (Vulcano) and Euonymos (Panarea).HistoryThere have been historical traces since Neolithic times, when the inhabitants employed the volcanic river of obsidian glass for the production of weapons and tools and exported their products.Around 575 B.C. a group of Dorian colonists from Knidos and Rhodes came under their leader Pentathlos and settled on the Aeolian Islands after having been defeated in western Sicily by the superior forces of the Elymians and the Phoenicians. In their struggle with the Etruscans they built up a strong fleet. Since they were allied with Syracuse, their islands were ravaged and pillaged by the Athenian fleet in 427-425 B.C. For a long time the subject of dispute between the Greeks and Carthaginians, the islands were conquered by the latter in 289 B.C., but only a short time after, in 252 B.C., they were taken by the Romans, who exploited the deposits of alum and the thermal springs. After the ancient period came to an end, the Aeolian Islands became the hiding-place of pirates.Around 836 they were conquered by the Arabs, and in 1080 by the Normans. In 1544 the commander-in-chief of the fleet of the Osman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, the universally feared Chaireddin Barbarossa, plundered the islands and took the inhabitants into slavery. This caused Emperor Charles V to build the citadel on Lípari for the protection of the population which had newly settled on the island. In 1610 the islands came under the rule of the Kingdom of Sicily, whose fate they have since shared.EconomyThe inhabitants of the islands derive their living from agriculture (olives, capers, almonds), working in the pumice quarries of Lípari, fishing and, to an increasing extent, tourism, which, with the islands' improved communications, has provided them with a considerable upsurge in economic activity, with the result that emigration, usually to Australia (1880: 23,000 population, today: 15,400), has at least been halted.SightsAs a holiday destination, the Aeolian Islands offer the ideal - with their favorable climate, volcanic landscape and often bizarre beauty, the ancient relics on Lípari and Panarea and the excellent museum on Lípari, but also with their more modern buildings and not least the rich opportunities for water and underwater sports. These attractions are matched by the standard of the touristic infrastructure with hotels, guest-houses, campsites, boat and motor-boat rental facilities.
The Island of Salina offers mountain excursions for visitors to view the six extinct volcanoes and beautiful landscape. Underwater sports and fishing are popular activities.
Island of Filicudi
CommunicationsShip connections with Milazzo, Naples and Lípari, hydrofoil services to Milazzo and the other Aeolian Islands.LocationFilicudi, Phoenicussa in ancient times, belongs to the west group of Aeolian Islands. Seas rich in fish and over 1,000m/3,000ft deep separate it from the neighboring islands of Alicudi and Salina. It is a rugged mass of rock with three extinct volcanoes, Fosso delle Felici (773m/2,356ft), Montagnola (383m/1,257ft) and Torrione (280m/919ft). On the southeastern side there is a small plain connecting the promontory Capo Graziano (174m/571ft) with the rest of the island. Filicudi's landscape is distinguished by rocks, small islets, cliffs (including the 85m/279ft high Canna) and isolated green terraces.
Filicudi - Sea-caves
On a boat trip it is possible to visit several sea-caves, including the extensive Grotta del Bue Marino on the southwest coast of the island of Filicudi.
On the promontory of Capo Graziano in the southeast a Bronze Age settlement has been discovered, with oval houses and a small necropolis (18th-13th centuries B.C.) in the rocks. There were also prehistoric settlements in the Piano del Porto.
Filicudi Porto, Pecorini and Val di Chiesa
As in ancient times the population lives principally in the southern part of the island: in the harbor villages of Filicudi Porto and Pecorini and in Val di Chiesa, which takes its name after a church dedicated to St Stephen. Besides a hotel there are bars which specialize in fish dishes.
CommunicationsThere are boat connections with Milazzo, Naples and Lípari; hydrofoil connections with Milazzo and the other Aeolian Islands.LocationAlicudi, the ancient name of which was Ericusa (after the heather), is the most westerly of the Aeolian Islands and lies 16km/10mi west of Filicudi. This small, almost circular island has the shape of a truncated cone. The highest point is the 675m/2,215ft high Filo dell'Arpa, also known as Timpone della Montagnola. Its western slope consists of corroded lava, while on the east side there are terraced slopes used for agriculture, on which citrus fruits, figs, almonds and vines are harvested. The remains of graves from the fourth century B.C. testify to the fact that the island was also inhabited in ancient times.
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