The millenary history of the Aeolian Islands

The history of the Aeolian Islands attests to human presence since the beginning of time.

Prehistoric populations were probably attracted by the presence of large quantities of obsidian, a mineral of volcanic origin, which placed the Aeolian Islands at the center of thriving trade routes already at the time of ancient Rome.
The first installations took place as early as 4000 years BC in the Neolithic. Obsidian, particularly sought after at that time, as the most avant-garde material of the moment, generated intense commercial traffic, which brought great prosperity to the islands.
From Lipari, obsidian stone was exported in large quantities to Sicily, southern Italy, Liguria, Provence and Dalmatia.
On Lipari, the population increased significantly until it became the most populous place in the Mediterranean, and starting from 3000 years BC, the wealth of Lipari extends to the other six islands, which began to populate gradually. Between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries BC, their importance increased, because they were located on the trade route for metals, especially the tin which came by sea from trades far from Great Britain and passed through the Strait of Messina towards the East.

Aeolian crater (Aeolian Museum of Lipari)

While in Sicily, the culture of Castelluccio was developing, in Capo Graziano, on the island of Filicudi but also in Lipari, the Aeolian culture grew, characterized more by trade than agriculture, with its circular huts with dry stone walls, almost perpendicular to the sea and its ceramics.

The islands colonized by the Greeks about 580 years before Christ, they called the Aeolian Islands, as they believed they were the home of the god of the winds, Aeolus, a myth destined to affirm “Greekness”.

In 260, they were the scene of the battle of Lipari between Rome and Carthage.
In Roman times they were the center of the trade of sulfur, aluminum sulphate and salt.

In 1544, when Spain declared war on France, the French king François 1st asked the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent for help. He sent a fleet commanded by Khair to Din which headed for the Aeolian Islands and attacked them, killing and deporting all its inhabitants. According to his plan, the Aeolian Islands should have become an outpost to attack Naples.

The history of the Aeolian Islands reports that over the centuries the archipelago has been repopulated again by Spanish, Sicilian and other Italian communities. During the reign of the Bourbons, the island of Vulcano was used as a penal colony for the extraction of aluminum sulphate and sulfur.

Luigi Salvatore of Habsburg-Lorraine – (Florence 4 August 1847 – Brandys nad Labem-Stara Boleslav, 12 October 1915)

Luigi Salvatore of Austria was the traveler of excellence among those who visited the Aeolian Islands. Driven by a passion for travel aboard his steam yacht, he came to Lipari for the first time in 1868 and enchanted by the beauty of the place and the soul of the Aeolian Islands, he returned several times to complete the most exhaustive work ever written on Isole Aeolian Islands, “Die inseln Liparischen “, eight volumes, one for each island, as well as a general one, very interesting, which describes the customs of the time.

The work is characterized by over 200 drawings, made personally by the author, which are still reproduced in numerous publications relating to the Aeolian Islands. The prints are from original lithographs with Italian translation by Prof. Pino Paino – Lipari 1979. <
You will find some reproduced on this page.

Ships and hydrofoils to get to Panarea

Some prints of Panarea taken from the book (1893) of Archduke Luigi Salvatore of Austria, reportage of his trip to the Aeolian Islands,