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Guide of Aeolian Islands, Italy

Author: andrea

Aeolian Islands History, Italy

The earliest inhabitants settled on the Eolian Islands in the Neolithic era. The first humans reached Lipari from Sicily at the beginning of the 4th millennium B.C. and on the island found obsidian, a very hard, glassy volcanic rock that was the most precious mineral of that time because wonderful utensils were produced. This meant an extraordinary development of the Neolithic civilization in Lipari and in the archipelago.

With the beginning of the Bronze Age (at the end of the 3rd millennium B.C.), new ethnic groups arrived in the islands from Miocene Greece, the Eolians, who explored the seas in search of the raw materials necessary for their power. The islands received from these people the name they bear to this day.

In the 6th century B.C., Lipari was colonized by a group of Greeks of Doric heritage, from Cnido and from Rodi. They established a powerful fleet, with which the Liparoti ensured long-term supremacy of the sea.

Soon Lipari fell under the Carthaginian rule and remained so until the Punic wars. For its strategic position and the excellent ports, the archipelago was one of the best Carthaginian naval stations.

Lipari was conquered and razed to the ground by the Romans in 252 B.C. This began a period of serious decline for the islands, although economic advantages continued linked to the extraction of alum, on which Lipari had the monopoly in the ancient world.

The Eolian Islands had great strategic importance during the civil war between Ottaviano and Sesto Pompeo. Ottaviano drove out Sesto Pompeo in 36 B.C. and made the island of Vulcano the base of its fleet for the operations that preceded the battle of Milazzo and the later landing in Sicily.

In the Christian era (perhaps from the 4th century) Lipari was a bishopric. Here the relics of the apostle San Bartolomeo were venerated; according to the Byzantine writers, he arrived miraculously from Armenia. In the early Middle Ages, Lipari was a destination for pilgrimages. Around the Eolian Islands, in particular on Lipari and Vulcano, there flourished in the early medieval was a variegated series of legends and traditions that linked volcanic activity to the netherworld.

In '839 Lipari was attacked and destroyed by an Arab incursion, which massacred the populations and sent them off to slavery. For some centuries, Lipari remained almost entirely deserted, up to the conquest of Sicily by the Normans, who in 1083 brought abbot Ambrogio to Lipari with a small group of monks.

In 1544 the city was sacked by the fierce Turkish corsair Ariadeno Barbarossa, who also sent the inhabitants off into slavery. Soon Carlo V repopulated it, importing Spanish immigrants and residents of Campania, and strengthened the defenses constructing the current wall. However, only with the disappearance of piracy, at the end of the 1700's, Lipari again began to truly expand.

For the entire 19th century, Lipari, having become an obligatory stop for many maritime lines, again began great economic development, a brief parenthesis that was interrupted by the beginning of the steamboat. The economy of the Eolian Islands entered a crisis and majority of the inhabitants emigrated to America and Australia; this situation lasted until the 1960's, when the islands were discovered by tourists from around the world.


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