Visit Aeolian Islands
The archipelago of the Aeolian Islands is in the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north of Sicily and includes seven islands, of which the largest are Lipari, Vulcano and Salina. Others include Filicudi, Stromboli, Panarea and Ustica. All the Aeolian islands are of volcanic origin.
The Greeks called the islands of the archipelago 'Aeolian', after the mythical Aeolus, King of the Winds, who reigned over them.
The Aeolian Islands have been an important tourist destination since time immemorial due to the cultural treasures, the climate, and the sea which is clear and warm and suitable for various different water sports and activities. As a result the main islands of Stromboli, Lipari and Vulcano can be rather busy in summer.
Visit the Aeolian Islands: tourism and travel
Hiking and diving are the most popular sporting activities on the islands and it is also possible to take excursions along the sides of the volcanoes and by boat around the islands.
A tour of the islands will usually start with Lipari, the principal town and also the main place for catching boats between the islands. In Lipari itself, from the port you can reach the Citadel and Piazza Mazzini which overlooks the castle, a fortress built by the Spaniards in the 16th century.
Nearby is the Church of San Antonio, which contains two ancient paintings by Giovanni Tuccari (Messina, 1667-1743).
Within the walled city you will also find the Church of Santa Caterina (XVII century) and the Church of Addolorata (XVIII century, with some paintings by Gerolamo Alibrando, born in Messina in 1470).
In the same area there are excavations of the ancient Greek Acropolis, with many inscriptions and Attic vases derived from the necropolis of the Contrada di Diana, and now exhibited in the Museum.
Also remarkable is the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew, the patron saint of Lipari. It seems that the origins of the Cathedral date back as far as the fall of the Roman Empire; it was however consecrated in the 12th century. Particularly enchanting is the exterior arcade, supported by pillars with various ornamentation.
The interior has three naves and some very interesting paintings: among these and worth mentioning are some frescoes depicting the Stories of the Old Testament (XVIII century), a Madonna del Rosario (XVII century ) and some work by Antonio Mercurio (1660-1738).
For more information please see Lipari.
Lipari Aeolian Museum
Be sure to also visit the Aeolian Museum, which is divided into several sections including a prehistoric section (I-VI century) with finds dating from the Neolithic; and inscriptions and Attic vases from the necropolis of Diana including the 'Bothros of Aeolus', a sort of large cistern containing artefacts dating back to the founding of the city.
There is also a section with inscriptions on cippus, sarcophagi and steles, and in the section for the smaller islands there are some collections of pots from Panarea, Alicudi and Filicudi. The classical section has artefacts from the Greek necropolis and Roman times, and many works of jewellery, while the last two sections in the Aeolian Museum of Lipari are devoted to volcanoes and Quaternary Palaeontology finds.
Related article: the history of the Aeolian islands
Local attractions and excursions
There are a good number of tourist sights on the Aeolian Islands and it is easy and popular to take interesting excursions to the smaller islands and, for example, to make the climb to the crater of Stromboli volcano (the night excursions are especially exciting).
You can climb one of the extinct volcanos such as Monte Sant'Angelo for lovely views on Lipari, whereas Stromboli is visited because of its active volcano which can be seen without personal danger!
We also recommend trips to the impressive Grotta del Cavallo and the Swimming-Pool of Venus, or the so-called Valley of the Monster (a place of black volcanic rocks with strange shapes), or the "Pumice Cave".
Other popular excursions include the Falesia di Pollara on the island of Salina, and the Punta del Corvo on Panarea, where you can see the ruins of a prehistoric village (a similar village can also be seen in Filicudi). Some of these tours are guided by skilled staff.
For those who love beaches and the sea, the Aeolian Islands offer beautiful and well equipped beaches at Lipari and Canneto Salina, Alicudi and Filicudi among others.
Eating out Aeolian style
In each place on the islands you can also enjoy some regional gastronomic specialities.
These include, for example, the 'noodles with meat sauce for redfish', the 'noodles with seafood', 'fish ravioli', or 'fish rolls and radishes', the 'macaroni with shrimp', the 'pappardelle with shrimps', the grilled fish; all accompanied by one of the numerous white and red wines of the islands.
The easiest way to reach the Aeolian islands is by ferry from Milazzo, about 25 kilometres south of here in north-east Sicily. Ferries also arrive on the islands from Palermo and Cefalu, and from Naples on the Italian mainland.
Selected places to visit near Aeolian Islands
See the Sicily guide for more travel ideas...