is the main town on the island. Clearly visible, as you approach
the island from the sea, are the top of the town, the fortified
city with behind (visible if you come from Marina Lunga) the former
Franciscan convent, now Town Hall. Far below at its feet sit the
two bays of Marina Corta, watched by the small church of the Anime
del Purgatorio (once isolated on a rock, now linked to the mainland)
and by the 1600’s church of San Giuseppe, and of Marina Lunga,
the larger of the two inlets. On the last night of the festival
of St. Bartholomew on 24 August, Marina Corta is illuminated by
a magnificent display of fireworks, set off from the sea. The lower
part of town or città bassa, with its main street Corso Vittorio
Emanuele lined with charming shops and restaurants, provides the
perfect context for the traditional passeggiata (walk).
– This is how they refer to the citadel, a structure constructed
on a Greek acropolis before being surrounded by walls in the 13th
century. In the 16th century Charles V had it reinforced after the
town was sacked by Barbarossa. It is best approached from piazza
Mazzini, by the most ancient route: past the fortifications and
the Greek tower (dating back to the 4th century BC), with its great
medieval portcullis (12th-13th century), lies the heart of the citadel.
On the right is the Chiesa di Santa Caterina, with beyond it, an
archaeological area which has been excavated to reveal superimposed
layers of dwellings (huts), buildings and roads from various periods
spanning the Bronze Age (Capo Graziano culture) through to Hellenistic
and ancient Roman times. Behind sits the Chiesetta dell’Addolorata
and the 18th century Chiesa dell’Immacolata. Left of these,
in the centre, rises the cathedral dedicated to the patron saint
of the Eolian Islands, Saint Bartholomew: medieval in plan, it was
rebuilt during the Spanish domination, while the façade dates
back to the 19th century. The adjacent cloister is Norman. Opposite
is a flight of steps dating from the early 20th century; to build
it some of the ancient walls had to be demolished.
Archeologico Eoliano – The collections are accomodated
within several different buildings, displayed in sections relating
the history of the islands from the Prehistoric to the Classic times.
Special sections are devoted to marine archaeology and vulcanology.
Most of the relics are from excavations undertaken since 1949. At
the entrance to each room are explanatory panels of two different
types: the first type, more detailed, is for visitors who wish to
complete a thorough tour of the museum; the other, red, provides
the basic facts pertaining to the successive development of cultures.
section on Lipari Prehistory begins with a room entirely reserved
to obsidian, the glass-like volcanic stone which has been so prized
for its strenght and razor-sharp cutting edge; although fragile,
it was widely used and exported in Antiquity for making tools. The
Capo Graziano culture (1800-1400 BC, owing its name to an area in
Filicudi island) and the ensuing Capo Milazzese’s (from Panarea)
marked a period of high prosperity for the islands (room 5 and 6),
characterized by a demographic and commercial increase. Evidence
for this is provided by the presence of large Mycenean vases likely
traded here for raw materials. The following epoch (13th- 9th century
BC), known as the Ausonian period, after the people that, according
to historian Diodorus Siculus, arrived from the Italian mainland,
is classified according to various criteria: there are many one-handled
bowls with horn-shaped appendages (probably intended to ward off
evil spirits) which, later on, evolve into stylised forms of animal
heads (rooms 7 and 9). Room 10 onwards is devoted to the Greek and
Roman ages. After being long abandoned, the acropolis at Lipari
was colonized by people from Knidos and Rhodes (6th century BC).
The lid of the Bothros (votive pit) of Aeolus, with its stone lion-cum-handle
(room 10) is particularly striking. The cult of Aeolus seems to
have been shared by both established residents and colonizers. The
other glass-cases contain the “offerings” found in the
buildings opposite contain rooms devoted to the prehistory of the
smaller islands and to vulcanology (building at left); the geological
evolution of the islands is explained through boards, diagrams and
chronological display continue in the building north of the cathedral
(the nmbering of the rooms has been inverted in the first three
rooms: Room 18 leads through to room 17 and then 16 before continuing
with 19, etc.). The reconstruction of the Bronze Age necropolis
(12th century BC) is particularly interesting: this compares burial
after cremation (12th century BC) – when urns containing the
ashes are covered with bowls and placed inside small pits dug in
the ground (room 17), with information burials (14th century BC)
– when large pithoi or jars (containing the curled-up body
of the dead person) were simply interred in the ground. Trading
vassels encountering storms at sea often came in to shore to find
shelter; on their route were two notable black spots renowned as
being highly dangerous; Capo Graziano (on Filicudi) and the area
known as Le Formiche (the Ants which consists of treacherous rocks
hidden just below the surface just off Panarea). From these two
places have been retrieved the shipwrecked cargo of some twenty
trading vassels that comprised large numbers of amphorae of various
types, of which the museum has a vast collection (see Marine Archaeology
section). The grave goods, dating from the 6th-5th century BC, include
an unusual array of rather coarsely modelled clay figurines (room
21), which are of particular interest in that they re-enact different
domestic tasks; a mother washes a child, a woman intent on making
soup in a bowl and another grinds grain with a mortar, on the edge
of which perches a cat. Among the fine examples of red-figure ware,
made in Sicily or mainland Italy, emerges one depicting a highly
unusual scen (360 BC): a naked acrobat balances in a hand-stand
before Dionysus and two comic actors with exaggerated features.
Behind the group, in two panels, are painted the portraits of two
additional actors. In the same glass are three vases by the so-called
painter of Adrastus (king of Argos); the third one bears a very
dramatic scene where, under the portico of the palace of Argos,
Tydeus confronts Polynices, the son of Oedipus, who was exiled from
cult of Dionysus, god not only of the wine, but also of the theatre
and celestial bliss (for those who were initiated into its mysteries)
explains the inclusion, among the grave goods recovered from votive
pits, of statuettes of actors and theatrical masks; the museum has
an extremely rich, varied and ancient collection of such objects
(room 23), which is quite unique. The last section of the museum
is devoted to Lipari’s Hellenistic and Roman epochs (a big
quantity of moulded oil lamps stamped with different kinds of decoration
is held); also displayed are various artefacts (notably ceramics)
relating to the Norman, Spanish, Renaissance and Baroque periods.
Archeologico – On the far side of the citadel on
the right. In the archaeological gardens are aligned numerous ancient
sarcophagi. From the terrazza there is an enchanting view over the
little church of the Anime del Purgatorio, jutting out into the
sea opposite Marina Corta, and Vulcano on the horizon.
of the island – 27km round trip; set out from Lipari
città in the direction of Canneto, to the north.
– This small village set back from the great sweep of coast
is a favorite spot from where to set out for the white beaches,
visible from Canneto, that are accessible by a footpath. The clear
sea is due to the high content of pumice dust. From the harbour
of Canneto, it is possible to visit the pumice quarries near Porticello.
The simplest way, what is also the most picturesque and traditional,
is to go by boat with one of the many fishermen who buzz about the
harbour; the other way is by bus.
di Pomice a Porticello – This lovely bay is lined
by a mass of pumice quarries and workshops; all, save the last and
most northern, are now abandoned. Waste resulting from the extraction
and working of the stone accumulates naturally in mounds of fine
white sand along the shore, which hardens with time. On the beach,
lie small fragments of black obsidian. The scene is strangely compelling:
the sea is of the palest tinges of blue, as clear as glass (revelaing
the pumice-lined seabed), old wooden jetties once used for loading
pumice onto boats are ghostly still. One of the bathers’ favorite
pastimes is to climb the white mounds and cover themselves with
pumice dust to smooth their skin. The keenest kids can then emulate
the children in the scene from Kaos (by film-makers Taviani brothers),
who hurled themselves down the mounds, roly-poly fashion, straight
into the sea (however, the sea is now about a metre away). Dramatic
views of the white pumice slopes of Campo Bianco can be enjoyed
along the road especially at sunset. For a split second, the scene
might evoke some alpine context among tall snow-covered slopes.
little further on is the Fossa delle Rocche Rosse, where the island’s
most impressive flow of obsidian can be admired.
Acquacalda is Puntazze, offering a beautiful view spanning five
islands: from left to right are Alicudi, Filicudi, Salina, Panarea
di San Calogero – Just beyond Pianoconte, take right.
The water of this hot springs have been famous for their therapeutic
properties since Antiquity. Amongst ruins of ancient buildings (alongside
a modern spa which was unfortunately closed), is a domed chamber.
This is likely the oldest thermal complex, and indeed the only Hellenistic
building, still in use today even if it only provides people with
“DIY” therapy requiring them to splash themselves with
water that springs from the ground at a temperature of 60°C.
– This belvedere opens out on a beautiful panorama with Punta
S. Iacopo and Punta Perciato in the foreground. Behind are the faraglioni,
big rocks emerging from the waters, and, in the background, the
island of Vulcano. The Odissey tells that these were hurled by Polyphemus
against Ulysses who had blinded him by thrusting a flaming stake
into his only eye; the hero then escaped with his companions by
clinging to the bellies of rams belonging to the Cyclops. A beautiful
view of Lipari can be enjoyed as you approach the town on your tour.
trip around the island – Departures from Marina Corta. A boat
tour offers the opportunity to explore the island’s jagged
coastline, dotted with arches, boulders and craggy rocks.
is the largest and the most populated of the Aeolian islands. Its
physical relief, with its gentle lowlands, has prompted a number
of towns to spring up both along the coast and inland.
since the antiquity and renowned for its obsidian, the island enjoyed
great prosperity although it was often subject to raids and attacks
among which is the one launched by Turk Kaireddin Barbarossa, who,
in 1544, landed at Porto delle Genti (a small hamlet near Lipari)
and ravaged the city killing or deporting the population as slaves
main moorings on the island are in the town of Lipari, which is
served by two ports: Marina Corta is used by the hydrofoils and
by smaller craft, while ferries moor at Marina Lunga. From here,
it is easy to get to the island’s other towns, that are Canneto,
Acquacalda, Quattropiani and Pianoconte. It is advisable to tour
the island by car or bike, also available at various hire places.
for a treat
Pasticceria Subba, at 92, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, in Lipari city,
has been making fabulous goodies: cannoli (filled with ricotta cheese),
cassate (brimming with candied fruit), pasta paradiso (melting moments)
special evening meal
restaurant E Pulera, in via Diana, only opens for dinner from June
to October, dining outside, in a charming garden. In July and August,
typical Aeolian dishes are served accompanied by traditional music
and folkloristic shows.
Guide of Sicily
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