Ancient History & Archaeology

Lipari is home to the splendid Museo Eoliano

Tailormade & Concierge

Step back in time

The Aeolian Islands are a magnet for anyone interested in ancient history and archaeology. Bronze Age settlements, Roman and Greek ruins and remnants from invasions by everyone from the Saracens to the Spanish are still very much in evidence.

The islands are steeped in mythology. Apart from reputedly being named after Aeolus, the God of the Winds, Ulysses is said to have landed on the islands and met the monstrous Polyphemus, and Vulcano, the God of Fire, was also thought to have lived here. The seven islands, once submarine volcanoes, emerged from the sea some 700,000 years ago, with Vulcanello, the small peninsula linked to Vulcano, being the last to appear in around 183 BC. Much of the geological nature of the islands is due to the eruptions and volcanic activity – including the creation of pumice stone and lava flows that produced obsidian rock.

The most ancient human settlements on the islands have been found at the Necropolis Diana on Lipari and at Rinicedda on Salina. Over the millennia, invasions by the Carthaginians, Romans, Saracens, Normans and Spanish all left their mark and it was only when the Normans invaded that the islands experienced a period of relative prosperity.

Visit Lipari’s Museo Eoliano

Of the seven islands, Lipari has always been the most important and is now the most populated. The ‘must see’ on the island is the Museo Eoliano, an astonishing archaeological museum tracing six millennia of island history. The museum forms part of an ancient citadel, enclosed by fortified walls and home to Roman ruins and several churches.  Inside the museum, there are fascinating displays of obsidian tools, amphorae salvaged from local shipwrecks and a superb collection of miniature Greek theatrical masks.

Don’t miss the excavated area inside the citadel where you can see ancient Greek ruins and explore the remains of different layers of civilisation.

Ancient history on Filicudi

Bronze Age settlements are still very much in evidence on Filicudi where Capo Graziano is home to the ruins of around 30 oval-shaped huts; and on Panarea, at Capo Milazzese, which was excavated in the twentieth century.

If you are interested in learning about the Islands’ ancient history, please contact us to find out about our half and full-day guided tours, led by island specialists in history and conservation.

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