Aeolian islands

I’m back from a week around the Aeolian Islands and another week on the Sicily mainland. I could make a large number of posts about this trip, but I will try to limit to two (or three…?). After all, this blog is supposed to be about Paris. :-)

We are of course in a very volcanic area. Sicily is on the border between the African and Eurasian megaplates, actually on the African side. The African continental shelf is in constant movement towards Europe. On this map one can see the low water depths between Africa and Sicily (dry land some millions of years ago) and the deep waters of the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas.

Starting with the Aeolian Islands… They are the results of volcanic activity since some 260 000 years. There are still two active volcanoes – Stromboli and Vulcano. We made a lot of boating between five of the islands – Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Panarea and Stromboli.

There are traces of human civilization since some 6000 years. Between the 6th and 4th centuries BC there was a Greek domination. Then the islanders were allies of the Carthaginians against Rome which led to a period of decadence and poverty, later followed by domination by Visigoths and Ostrogoths and by the Byzantine empire. Things improved by the arrival of Normans during the 11th century and links to France and Naples. Then came a Spanish domination via the “Kingdom of the Two Sicilies” (southern present Italy and Sicily). In 1544 a Turkish fleet led by Barbarossa occupied Lipari, the main island, and most of the inhabitants were enslaved. The Spanish then repopulated with Sicilian, Calabrian and Spanish families. Finally came the integration of the unified Italy during the 19th century.

Lipari is the largest of the islands with some 11 000 inhabitants. There have not been any reported eruptions since the 5th century.

The last great eruption on Vulcano took place 1888-90. The main crater is 500 m (1650 ft) above sea level. There is permanently some (partly sulfuric) smoke. Close to the beach you can find a mud (slightly sulfuric) bath.

Salina (the name of course from some previous salt production) is a quiet island – no eruption since some 13 000 years.

Among the islands, the most active volcano is to be found on Stromboli (see top picture). The last major eruption was in 2009, but there are permanently some minor eruptions and a lot of smoke.

The name of Stromboli is of course linked to the 1949 movie by Roberto Rosselini with Ingrid Bergman. You can see the little house where they lived.

I had the intention to climb to the 926 m (3 000 ft) top, but my Gauloise lungs and the recommendations by our guide made me give up half way. I learnt from the people who reached the top that they had seen “nothing” because of clouds. Normally some of the eruptions should be spectacular, but, unfortunately, later in the evening, the only thing I was able to photograph from a moving boat was a vague light among the clouds.

Panarea is the most “chic” island with well paved streets (for walking or for small electric cars, scooters…), white painted buildings and walls… the homes of all kinds of world celebrities who still somehow manage to “hide” here. To be seen are also the rests of a Bronze Age settlement, beautifully situated (Capo Milazzese).



martinealison said...

Bonjour cher Peter,

On va te pardonner cette absence ! Tes belles photos et ton reportage très bien détaillé excuse ton abandon ! sourire... Nous étions bien avertis !
Je me régale et ne peux pas m'empêcher de penser qu'il faudra un jour que j'aille voir ces merveilles de plus près.

Tes clichés sont judicieusement bien choisis car je suppose que tu as dû en prendre de très nombreux. De ce fait, le tri n'a pas dû être simple !

Je te remercie pour cette agréable visite... je te fais de gros bisous.

Studio at the Farm said...

I missed you, too. But, as always, you have offered another engaging and beautiful post. They are exquisite little islands, and what a turbulent early history.
Thank you, Peter!

Don001 said...

As always, anywhere you write about is educational and very interesting, especially for someone on the other side of the world. Enjoy your holiday in the sun and thank you for taking us all along with you.

Ola said...

I did nit know about these islands-I am a big fan of visiting places with volcanoes, amazing!

claude said...

What a wonderful trip, Peter !
Très beau reportage, comme d'hab'.
Moralité pour climber plus haut : Tu devrais arrêter de fumer.

Dédé said...

deux petites explosions en haut, pas "nothing"... :-))

Cezar and Léia said...

Bonjour Peter, welcome back! What a wonderful place, a very special adventure trip! I'm delighted by your beautiful shots, the volcano picture and all details are splendid!
I want to see more pictures, please, please! :)
Thanks for sharing!

Alain said...

Le stromboli est visible depuis la Suisse ?

Starman said...

I always enjoy your photo reporting!

Parisbreakfasts said...

What about the food?
Everyone raves
I hope you had their famous cheesecake? Oopla...I'm thinking of Corse. But Sicily has fabulous wines. I once spent a week in a vineyard there...

JoeinVegas said...

Looks like a lovely change from where you live

JudyMac said...

Fabulous geography/history lesson, not to mention the over-the-top photography! Waiting for more.

Jeanie said...

Peter, while we all savor your Parisian posts, I have equal delight in seeing the other places you discover and learning more about them. This looks like a gorgeous holiday -- all that blue, history, loveliness. Indeed, Peter's World is as fine as Peter's Paris!

Annette said...

Hi! This is the first time I come visiting your blog! As I'm Italian it's a great pleasure to me to see your beautiful pictures!

Ciao dall'Italia


Catherine said...

great post - I really enjoyed a trip to Sicily many years ago but never made it out to the islands - this is a wonderful photographic tour...