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—  Comune  —
Comune di Lipari
Lipari is located in Italy
Location of Lipari in Italy
Coordinates: 38°28′N 14°57′E / 38.467°N 14.95°E / 38.467; 14.95Coordinates: 38°28′N 14°57′E / 38.467°N 14.95°E / 38.467; 14.95
Country Italy
Region Sicily
Province Messina (ME)
Frazioni Alicudi, Filicudi, Panarea, Stromboli, Vulcano, Canneto, Acquacalda, Quattropani, Pianoconte, Lami
 - Total 37 km2 (14.3 sq mi)
Population (31 December 2004)
 - Total 10,763
 - Density 290.9/km2 (753.4/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 98055
Dialing code 090
Patron saint Saint Batholomew
Saint day 24 August
View of Lipari

Lipari (Sicilian: Lìpari, Latin: Lipara, ancient Greek: Meligunis) is the largest of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the north coast of Sicily, and the name of the island's main town. It has a permanent population of 11,000; during the May-September tourist season, its population may reach up to 20,000.



Lipari is the largest of a chain of islands in a volcanic archipelago that straddles the gap between Vesuvius and Etna. The island has a surface area of 37.6 km² and is 30 km from Sicily. Besides the main town, most of the year-round population resides in one of the four main villages: Pianoconte is almost due west across the island, Quattropani in the northwest, Acquacalda along the northern coast, and Canneto is on the eastern shore north of Lipari town.


A pumice mine just east of Acquacalda.

It is generally accepted that the island was created by a succession of four volcanic movements, the most important of which was the third one, presumably lasting from 20,000 BC to 13,000 BC. A further important phenomenon should have happened around 9,000 BC (C14 exams by Keller). The last recorded eruptions occurred in the fifth century CE when the airborne pumice covered Roman villages on the island. The volcanos are considered inactive, though steaming fumaroles may still be seen. As a result of the volcanic origins, the island is covered with pumice and obsidian. Pumice mining has become a large industry on Lipari, and the pale pumice from Lipari is shipped internationally.


Ancient history

Lipari's position has made the harbor of strategic importance. In Neolithic times Lipari was, with Sardinia, one of the few centers of the commerce of obsidian, a hard black volcanic glass prized by Neolithic peoples for the sharp cutting edge it could produce. Lipari's history is rich in incidents as is witnessed by the recent retrievals of several necropolis and other archaeological treasures. Man seems to have inhabited the island already in 5,000 BC, though a local legend gives the eponymous name "Liparus" to the leader of a people coming from Campania. Its continuous occupation may have been interrupted violently when the late 9th century Ausonian civilisation site was burned and apparently not rebuilt. Many household objects have been retrieved from the charred stratum.

Greek Colonists from Knidos under Pentathlos arrived at Lipara in 580 BC and settled on the site of the village now known as Castello or la Cittade. The colony successfully fought the Etruscans for control of the Tyrrhenian. Allied with Syracuse at the time of the fateful intervention of Athens in the west in 427, Lipara withstood the assault of Athenians and their allies. Carthaginian forces succeeded in holding the site briefly during their struggles with Dionysios I, tyrant of Syracuse, in 394, but once they were gone the polis entered a three-way alliance which included Dionysios' new colony at Tyndaris. Lipara prospered, but in 304 Agathokles took the town by treachery and is said to have lost pillage from it in a storm at sea. Many objects recovered from wrecks of antiquity are now in the Aeolian Museum at Lipari. Lipara became a Carthaginian naval base during the first Punic War, but fell to Roman forces in 252-251 BC, and again to Agrippa in Octavian's campaign against Pompey. Under the Roman Empire, it was a place of retreat, baths (the hydrothermic waters are still used as a spa) and exile.

History from the Middle Ages to the present day

The 1556 fortifications, built atop ancient Greek walls.

Lipari was probably an episcopal see from the 3rd century, (first bishop was St. Agatone) and at least from the 6th century the precious relics of St. Bartholomew could be admired in its cathedral.

In the 9th century, Sicily was conquered by the Arabs, and soon Saracen pirates began to raid across the Tyrrhenian Sea, with dramatic effects for Lipari. In 839 the Saracens slaughtered much of the population, the relics of St. Bartholomew were moved to Benevento, and Lipari was eventually almost totally abandoned. The Normans conquered the Arabs throughout Sicily between 1060 and 1090, and repopulated the island once their rule was secure. The Lipari episcopal seat was reinstated in 1131.

Though still plagued by pirate raids, the island was continually populated from this point onward. Rule of the island was passed from the Normans to the Hohenstaufen Kings, followed by the Angevins, and then the Aragonese, until Carlos I, the Aragonese King became the Spanish King, and then quickly was crowned Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. In 1544, Hayreddin Barbarossa ransacked Lipari and deported the entire population. Charles V then had his Spanish subjects repopulate the island and build the massive city walls atop the walls of the ancient Greek acropolis in 1556.

The walls created a mighty fortress which still stands today. The acropolis, high above the main town, was a safe haven for the populace in the event of a raid. While these walls protected the main town, it was not safe to live on the rest of the island until Mediterranean piracy was largely eradicated, which did not truly end until the 19th century.

During Fascism, Lipari Island was a destination for the confinement of members of the political opposition: among them, Emilio Lussu, Carlo Rosselli, Giuseppe Ghetti.

An interesting museum has recently been created to collect a relevant part of local archaeological retrievals; its disparate sections relating to the human history of the entire Aeolian Islands from prehistoric to classical times, also cover vulcanology, marine history, and the paleontology of the western Mediterranean.

Ecclesiastical history

Count Ruggiero had founded a Benedictine abbey in Patti, and in 1131 the antipope Anacletus II made Patti an episcopal see, uniting it with the Abbey of Lipari. Pope Eugenius III in 1157 confirmed the action of the antipope, the first legitimate pastor of the see being Gilbertus. In 1399, the sees of Lipari and Patti were separated.

The Symbol of Lipari

After seven years of historic research, the symbol of Lipari (a decoration of the baroque period which dates back to the 16th century) found its identity. The symbol of Lipari is uniquely displayed in the corners of few ancient-made banisters. The symbol is exhibited in the balconies and on the streets of the island. The decoration, created by able artisan hands, is achieved through the “wrought” technique to form the centre-piece (the welded central element of the unique decoration) of a unique design. However, today the symbol is found on balconies with a modern manufacture technique. The design is fused by soldering, but with less complex curves, reminiscent of Baroque tradition.

Why the Lipari symbol? The symbol represents the island of Lipari and has been re-launched from ancient times. It is present in every nook and cranny where the Baroque taste is still popular despite the introduction of new styles. Only in the last year has a historical cultural research on the decoration been completed.

Professor Antonietta Rosa Raso provided further insight after a long dialogue at the Baroque contest and I acquired a clearer historical concept of the elements which compose the symbol. The symbol of Lipari is composed of two Norman swords which cut the four winds, characterised by curls located in the four opposite points. Another important element is the centre-piece nail. The rewarding power emphasises of protection of the symbol. Firstly signified by the aesthetic design and finally the import of the symbol. The swords which cut the four winds serve as protection from the storms represented in the cardinal points of the Arabic half moon and the centre-piece nail to protect the larger shield (embodies Baroque artistry which is equipped with the powerful Spanish shields to defend itself during the bloody battles). Given the ancient traditions and import, the symbol of Lipari is ultimately an amulet to protect from misfortune.

Historical research conducted by Francesco Bertè in conjunction with Professor Antonietta Rosa Raso. Lipari 10 February 2005

See also


  • Ezio Giunta, dir. (2005). "Lipari". Estateolie 2005*The Essential Guide (English version of Tourist Guidebook): 2–61.  

Sources and external links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Lipari: The Bay of Lipari town with its Acropolis
Lipari: The Bay of Lipari town with its Acropolis

Lipari is the largest and most populous of the Aeolian Islands of Italy. It is the primary transportation gateway for the Aeolians, and has some attractions of its own.

Get in

Primary access is by boat. The hydrofoil and ferry operators SIREMAR [1], Ustica Lines [2], and NGI [3] all connect Lipari to other points in the Aeolian Islands and to Sicily and the mainland. If you're not bringing a vehicle, try to board a hydrofoil; they're significantly quicker than the ferries, and generally quite comfortable.

Air Panarea [4] offers helicopter flights to Lipari on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the summer. However, they're expensive and don't save much time compared to the hydrofoils.

Lipari: Marina Corta during Easter 2006
Lipari: Marina Corta during Easter 2006

Get around


The Island of Lipari is ideal for trekking. There are many routes on the island from easy to hard level. The level of difficulty depends on the season. Some tracks are very hard or almost impossible to follow during summer because of the heat. There are maps to be bought on Lipari but one has to ask local people to find some of the tracks.

A short walk downhill can be done on the road from Quattropani to Acquacalda on the north side of Lipari. This can be done even during summer and takes about 45 minutes. You enjoy the view of Salina and the northern Aeolian islands during this walk. From the Old Kaolin Mine between Pianoconte and Quattropani it is possible to walk to the thermal bath of San Calogero or to the village of Quattropani. Downhill near the sea there is the ruin of a Saracen tower and fifthy meters away it is possible to walk down on the black clifs for a bath. Do these to walks during springtime. From Marina Corta there is a track up to Monte Gallina and Monte della Guardia. You reach the west side of the island and will enjoy the two Faraglioni from upside. You are able to reach the street that takes you from the vulcanologic observatory in front of Vulcano, back to Lipari town. You should do this hike late afternoon during summer. During afternoon in summer you can also make a walk from the church of Santa Lucia in Lipari to Valle Muria, the beach on the west side of Lipari.

  • Museo Archeologico Regionale Eoliano, Via Del Castello (in the old castle), +39 0909880174-0594. Open daily, closed 1:30-3:00PM; small fee. A spectacular (if limited in breadth) collection of artifacts recovered from archaeological sites in the Aeolian Islands, including many from shipwrecks. You'll see more amphorae and burial urns here than you thought existed in the modern world. Most exhibits have English-language captions. Photography generally not permitted.



What you must do during summer is to dive or snorkle at the Faraglioni. The water is crystal clear and swim in such water is something very special. But you must be careful with the currents.

During autumn, winter and especially during spring, trekking on Lipari gives unforgettable experiences. The Faraglioni photo was taken during such a spring day walk.

Lipari: Faraglioni from above seen from Monte Guardia
Lipari: Faraglioni from above seen from Monte Guardia

Scooter and vehicle rentals are available for hire near the waterfront. A drive around the island can be quite pleasant - visiting the pumice quarry, other towns, beaches and lookoff points.


There are several good restaurants on Lipari where you can eat pescespada (Swordfish), Calamari and other typical Eolian plates.

  • Kasbah, via Maurolico.
  • Le Macine, Via Stradale, Pianoconte.
  • A Sfiziusa, Via Roma.
Lipari: Spring flowers picked below Chiesa Vecchia
Lipari: Spring flowers picked below Chiesa Vecchia

Lipari offers a lot of accommodations, from luxury Arciduca or Villa Enrica to small old fashioned Aeolian Villas like e.g. Casa Svedese or Al Monte.

If you come during summer you may want to stay near the Sea, like in Canneto or in or near the town of Lipari. You should ask for air conditioning as in most cases the houses are rebuilt with thin walls with no thermal isolation and the rooms get terribly hot. There are older houses with thick cooling walls but these are not easy to find.

During winter time Lipari is ideal for trekking and you could therefore find a house in villages like Pianoconte or Quattropani. One thing to think about is that the houses are not built for heating. So you should get with you warm clothes and if possible a "bed heater". The temperature outside get down to 0-10 Celsius but very seldom below 0.

  • If you want to stay in a more luxury hotel, try:
  • Arciduca, [6].
  • Villa Enrica, [7].
  • If you prefer a peaceful house ideal for trekking:
  • Villa Fiorentino, [8].
  • La Casa Svedese, [9].
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