The archipelago of the Aeolian Islands is in the Tyrrhenian Sea, north of Sicily, and is composed of seven islands, of which the largest are Lipari, Vulcano and Salina, and 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 - clear and warm and suitable for different sports. It is also possible to take excursions along the sides of the volcanoes.
The Aeolian Islands are very rich in tourist sights. It is easy and popular to take interesting excursions to the smaller islands and, for example, to take the climb to the crater of Stromboli volcano (the night excursions are especially exciting).
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).
Other popular excursions include the Falesia di Pollara on the island of Salina, and the Punta del Corvo (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 the beach and the sea, the Aeolian Islands offer beautiful and equipped beaches at Lipari, Salina, Alicudi and Filicudi among others.
A tour of the islands will usually start with Lipari. From the port you 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 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.
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 an epigraphic 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.
In each place in the islands you can also enjoy some 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.
Related article: the history of the Aeolian islands