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The island of Lipari, as the other Aeolians, is also a volcano. Not definitely extinct, since it erupted in the 13th century from Monte Pilato crater! One of the largest islands of the archipelago, Lipari is also the most populated. Its safe conditions as a dormant volcano let many people live on its territory. It has monuments, schools, means of transport and services. Lipari is also the largest municipality, including 6 out of 7 islands – except Salina. Lipari is the base for many tourists who love to have comforts and fun. It is also the closest island – with Vulcano as well – to Milazzo’s port. It is easy to reach if you want to visit it on a one-day trip.

Lipary Island, some history

Men arrived quite “late” on Lipari, during the Upper Paleolithic. They had discovered the obsidian lavic stone, which is very sharp and useful for making tools and weapons. The obsidian trade was one of the reasons why the island was densely populated. It was also one of the first lands to be cultivated, too. Then came settlers from southern Italy – Apulia, Campania, Calabria – and the Greeks in the 6th century BC.

Lipari was involved in the Punic Wars and became a Roman colony in the 3rd century BC. Under the Roman rule, though, the archipelago lost importance. It was only in the 3rd centuy AD, with the arrival of St Bartholomew, that it became again a point of reference. It became the islands’ center for Christianity and monastic life.

Lipari then lived the same history as the rest of Sicily. It was violently invaded by the Arabs, recovered by the Normans (who built the fortified monastery), an agricultural and fishing centre under the Spaniards. From 1711 to 1860 both the Pope and the Sicilian kings disputed about the ruling over Lipari. The “Liparian Dispute” ended with the Sicilian Kingdom becoming a part of the new unified Italy.

What to see and what to do in Lipari Island

alleys in the historic village

The religious question has always been important for the island of Lipari. In fact, its fortification still preserves the church of San Bartholomew, the cloister of the ancient convent and the museum that tells their story. The sacred buildings are the most important monuments on the island. Absolutely to visit: the co-cathedral of San Bartholomew (year 1094), the Monastery of the Santissimo Salvatore al Castello (1094). Do not miss also the churches of the Addolorata, of Santa Caterina di Alessandria, of the Immaculate, always kept inside the walls of the fort.

At least twenty other churches dot the town of Lipari, but in addition to them the tourist interest focuses on archaeological sites. The prehistoric excavations such as the villages of Contrada Diana are very charming too. They date back to the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. Visit the acropolis and the Greek walls, also in Contrada Diana, and the domus, baths and hypogea from the Roman era. The so-called Castle of Lipari is actually today the medieval walls that keep the entire historic village of the town.

People come to Lipari to swim and to relax, of course. They can do it in the beautiful equipped beaches of the island. Canneto Beach – with marvelous turquoise waters, for example. Or Spiaggia Bianca and the beach of the Faraglioni di Pietralunga. You will also love Marina Corta – the closest to the town. For those who love absolute relaxation, the best place to swim is Praia di Vinci, which can only be reached by boat. But in Lipari you can also relax at the Terme di San Calogero spa. If you love history, do not miss a visit to the Archaeological Museum . Nor a healthy walk through the alleys and courtyards of the ancient village, among restaurants and souvenir shops.

Not to be missed

In Lipari you should never miss the views that can be enjoyed from the top of the Castle or from the cliffs of Valle Muria. You will be overlooking the nearby island of Vulcano, from there. A boat circumnavigation of the island is also absolutely worth doing, with the possibility of admiring the ancient pumice stone quarries from the sea. Once – until the late 19th century – they were the mining fortune of Lipari, together with the extraction of obsidian.

How to get there, how to move

Tourists will reach Lipari by ferries and hydrofoils departing from Milazzo and Messina. Once on the island you can move easily. There are many two-wheeled vehicles, or you can rent cars. The island’s bus service is also excellent. (photos by Grazia Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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