UNESCO SITES: The Aeolian Islands. Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Panarea, Filicudi, Alicudi.
Lipari and Salina are the largest and was the first to be inhabited as early as 4,000 BC.Thanks to obsidian, a volcanic glass formed during the cooling of the lava which was the sharpest material, to pumice stone and to their trade, were islands of great wealth.
Later, people came from Greece: Homer in the Odyssey makes them the seat of the god Aeolus who welcomed Ulysses and provided him with the ox skin containing the winds.
In the Christian Era, Lipari, bishopric, hosted in his cathedral the relics of St. Bartholomew, miraculously come from Armenia and, Middle Ages, become a destination of pilgrimage.
In 839 Lipari was destroyed by Muslims and remained for a few centuries almost uninhabited until the Normans conquered Sicily. It was rebuilt by King Charles V and since then followed the fortunes of the Kingdom of Naples.
Beautiful Norman testimony is the Lipari Castle with the ancient cloister; other wonders are the thirteenth century Cathedral, the Church of the purgatory of the thirteenth century, the Acropolisand the remains of the Greek-Roman era tombs, the archaeological museum and the baroque churches.
Along the coast there are many white beaches of pumice with the iridescent sea of turquoise and intense blue.
Today the volcano is quiet and makes the picturesque landscape with its peaceful fumarolic activity and hot springs around the island.
the current name comes from a small lake from which salt was extracted. Prior to this, it was baptized Didym (twin, in greek) for the unmistakable look of the two mountains "twin" that stand high above the sea, two extinct volcanoes out of the six in the island.
Salina, the most fertile of the Aeolian, rich in water and covered with lush vegetation, has a very pleasant climate cool in summer and never too cold in winter.
In the center, the Church Valley saddle, grow the vineyards of "malvasia", the precious grapes from which we get the sweet Malvasia wine and capers that are exported all over the world.
It is the ancient island of Hephaestus, the greek god of fire who became "Volcano" in the pantheon of the Romans. The port area and the Isthmus of Vulcanello are among the most beautiful and unique landscapes of the Mediterranean. Characteristic is the presence of sulphurous mud with their appreciated therapeutic properties and the numerous fumaroles that emit boric acid, ammonium chloride, and sulfur that feed an industrial complex for the production of sulfur.
Panarea is the smallest of the islands and the most mundane. The geological hypothesis is that it is part of a large destroyed volcanic crater. The island has a great variety of very interesting natural environments.
Stromboli is the only island of the archipelago with permanent volcanic activity. The eruptions are regularly alternated, and the phenomenon is called "Strombolian".
It rises to 900 meters above sea level, the landscape is particularly striking with black beaches and the few flat areas covered with vineyards for the production of "malvasia".
The coasts of Filicudi are a wonder with numerous coves and bays, rich in ravines, where the crystal clear water is lapping against the black lava rock. The backdrops with the underwater archaeological museum and the winding paths with underwater valleys of rare beauty, which can be seen with no need for deep diving.
There are countless terraces built by man to wrest from the island every meter of land that can be given to agriculture. The volcanic nature of the island offers a multitude of narrow valleys and majestic perpendicular cliffs, in which the alternating multicolored layers bear witness to a tumultuous geological history.
The etymology of the greek name, Phoinikodes, derives, according to Aristotle, from the abundant presence of ferns, or by a characteristic dwarf palm still present on the island headlands.
For the transparency of the sea and the wealth of its seabed, it is a destination of diving enthusiasts thanks to the conspicuous presence of octopus, grouper and squid.
The volcanic nature and the marine erosion created stunning geological monuments. Lovely walks on the Saracen paths full of wild vegetables, mushrooms, asparagus and leeks.
The main agricultural products of the island are capers and figs.
In this island there is a section of the Aeolian Archaeological Museum, with finds from excavations of Capo Graziano, a prehistoric village dating to the Bronze Age (period between 1700 and 1500 BC) and other parts of the Aeolian Islands . Very interesting are the ruins of the Neolithic village on the promontory of Capo Graziano. The finds testify to the presence on the island, during the Neolithic, of a thriving industry and processing of obsidian.
The wildest of the Aeolian Islands - its inhabitants do not exceed the hundred - ideal for those who want to immerse themselves in nature, surrounded by sea, sun and silence:
Its eastern side is almost entirely terraced, while the western side, wild and rugged, it remained uninhabited and is impractical because of the steep slopes.
The Aeolian Islands have been inspirational landscapes of art films of Roberto Rossellini's Stromboli (1950) starring Ingrid Bergman and The Postman (1994), by Antonio Skármeta the last film starring Massimo Troisi, the first for Maria Grazia Cucinotta and with Philippe Noiret in Pablo Neruda's shoes.
Other UNESCO sites in the vicinity:
Val di Noto: about 220 km (land-water) direction S
Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina: about 220 km (land-water) SW direction
Valley of the Temples in Agrigento: about 290 km (land-water) SW direction
Historic Center of Syracuse and Necropolis of Pantalica about 230 km (land-water) SE direction