Island of Panarea: a story that began a very long time ago …
The island of Panarea was inhabited in prehistoric times, as evidenced by the Bronze Age village (14th century BC) on the Milazzese promontory in the south of the island. (See photo below)
The remains of the prehistoric village in Cala Junco (photo Adam Butler)
The particular situation of this place, near the sea and protected by a steep cliff overlooking the sea – therefore easily defensible – made it an ideal place for the dwellings of the settlement: in the remains of the twenty houses of this prehistoric village, original Mycenaean materials were found , testimony of the role played, even in ancient times, by the Aeolian archipelago, at the center of the main trade routes in the Mediterranean. In ancient times we find different names for Panarea, Euonymos (or: “who is on the left”, going from Lipari to Sicily) and Hycesia (the supplicant). Then Panaraion appeared (destroyed) and then move on to Pagnaria (the cursed one), then Panaria and finally Panarea . For the rest, the island of Panarea shares the history of other Aeolian islands and in particular that of Lipari. Inhabited since the Neolithic, in the period between the seventh and sixth centuries BC. AD, the islands were prey to regular raids by the Etruscans until the latter was replaced by Greek colonization. In 264 BC Lipari was allied with Carthage and the islands suffered continuous attacks from the Roman fleet. In 252 BC Lipari and the islands are now under Roman rule. This is testified by the remains of a Roman villa built on the inaccessible peak of the Basiluzzo island, the whim of an eccentric Roman lover of solitude and the beauty of Panarea’s views.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, a period of decline begins which increases with the Byzantine domination and accelerates with the beginning of the Arab occupation (827/1061).
With the arrival of the Normans, the economic and demographic development of the islands restarts (about 1340-1544). In 1500 the Arabs begin to attack the islands again (we find traces in the toponymy of the bay and district of Drautto, from the name of the pirate Drauth. Due to the raids of Arab-Turkish piracy the island remained almost uninhabited; the number of inhabitants, in fact, did not amount to more than a hundred.
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the Lipari farmers began to cultivate it again (but without bringing women and children, due to the risk of pirate attacks). It is significant that above the prehistoric village of Cala Junco, there is the “Castello del Salvamento” (in the Aeolian toponymy, the term “castle” is a particularly high rocky complex), used as a providential refuge by residents during these raids. . (See image below)
The “Castieddu” of Panarea – Aeolian Islands
Then, thanks to the improvement of the political situation in the islands, the population of Panarea gradually increased to about 1,000 people. Unfortunately, at the end of the 19th century, it fell again due to emigration to the United States, South America and Australia. In fact, the natives of the island abroad are now more numerous than the residents on the island of Panarea itself!
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Some prints of Panarea taken from the book (1893) of Archduke Luigi Salvatore of Austria, reportage of his trip to the Aeolian Islands,