November 3, 2012

0374-0376 ITALY (Sicily) - Aeolian Islands (UNESCO WHS)

0374 Lipari

Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, to about 25-50km north of Sicily, the Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie) or Lipari Islands are a volcanic archipelago, named after the mythical sovereign of the winds, Aeolus. Inhabited since 6,000 years ago, they have been mastered over time, for longer or shorter periods, by Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, Spaniards, Otomans, French, and Italians, being not infrequently subjected to looting, depopulation, but also earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

0375 Vulcano

But exactly the last ones brought them the inclusion, in 2000, on the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO, which considers that Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands) "provide an outstanding record of volcanic island-building and destruction, and ongoing volcanic phenomena. Studied since at least the 18th century, the islands have provided the science of vulcanology with examples of two types of eruption (Vulcanian and Strombolian) and thus have featured prominently in the education of geologists for more than 200 years."

0374 Panarea

The archipelago consists of eight islands, of which current form is the result of volcanic activity over a period of 260,000 years:

LIPARI (37.6km2; 11.231 inhabitants) - Is the largest island of the archipelago, created by a succession of four volcanic movements, the most important being the third one, which lasted from 20,000 BC to 13,000 BC. The last recorded eruptions occurred in the 5th century CE, when the airborne pumice covered Roman villages on the island. The predominant volcanic rocks, obsidian and pumice, had a particular importance in the history of the island, the first one in the commerce in Neolithic times, and the second one later, until today.

The fortress was built by the spaniards atop the walls of the ancient Greek acropolis in 1556, during the reign of Charles V. Today it is the home of one of the most important Archaeological Museums in Europe, named after the archaeologist Luigi Bernabò Brea who, together with Madeleine Cavalier, dedicated his life to the discovery of the treasures of the archipelago. Lipari was probably an episcopal see from the 3rd century, and at least from the 6th century the relics of Saint Bartholomew, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, are hosted by the cathedral dedicated to him.

VULCANO (21km2; 470 inhabitants) - It contains one of four active non-submarine volcanoes in Italy. Named by the ancient Greeks Therassía or Thérmessa (source of heat), it was renamed by the Romans Vulcano, from which comes the word volcano in most modern European languages. The Romans used the island mainly for raw materials, harvesting wood and mining alum and sulfur, which was the principal activity on the island until the end of the 19th century.

The eruption of Fossa (one of the volcanos in the island), that took place between 1888 and 1890, gave the name of a type of eruption, Vulcanian eruption, defined as an explosive emission of pyroclastic fragments of viscous magmas caused by the high viscosity preventing gases from escaping easily. This eruption of Vulcano was carefully documented at the time by Giuseppe Mercalli.

PANAREA (3.4km2; 280 inhabitants) - Named Euonymus in antiquity, this island was inhabited since 1200 BC, but after the Fall of Rome, the pirates and other Mediterranean raiders made life unbearable there.

SALINA (27km2; 4.000 inhabitants) - Is the second largest island in the archipelago, and is composed of six volcanoes, among them Monte Fossa delle Felci (968 m, the highest peak in the archipelago). In the 4th century BC, the Greeks founded on this island, which they called Didyma, a colony, which lay on the modern-day site of the small town of Santa Marina.

FILICUDI (9.5km2; 300 inhabitants) - Named by the ancient Greeks Phenicusa (rich in ferns), this island still preserve the remains of the Bronze Age, Greek, Roman and Byzantine settlements. Its coasts are an alternation of slopes, grottos and hill sides, which highlight the wild nature of the island. Of notable interest is the neck formation the Canna, with its neighbouring  neck formations of  Montenassari and Sgomento, and the Bue Marine Grotto, in which the movement of the sea makes a sound similar to that of a cow mooing.

ALICUDI (5.2km2; 120 inhabitants) - The island, most westerly of the archipelago, was formed by the long-extinct Montagnola volcano, roughly 150,000 years ago, and was first populated as long ago as 17th century BC. Its name is a corruption of the Greek name Ericusa (island of Erica), derived from the plant known as the Erica, more commonly known as heather, which still grows on the island’s slopes.

BASILUZZO (1km2; uninhabited)

STROMBOLI (12.6km2; 850 inhabitants - third postcard) - This island contain one of the four active volcanoes in Italy, constantly active with minor eruptions, which brought it the nickname Lighthouse of the Mediterranean. Its pattern of eruption, in which explosions occur at the summit craters with mild to moderate eruptions of incandescent volcanic bombs at intervals ranging from minutes to hours, was observed also at other volcanoes worldwide, being named even Strombolian eruption.

About the stamp

The stamp, the same on all three postcards, was issued on May 10, 2012 in the series theme Made in Italy, with the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in Florence. The 0.75 Euro stamp shows the elaborate interior of this pharmacy, one of the oldest working pharmacies in the world, founded by Dominican friars in the first half of the 13th century.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday #140, hosted on Beth's blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy. Click on the button below to visit all the other participants.

Aeolian Islands - Wikipedia
Aeolian Islands -
Tourism in Lipari - The cathedral
New issue in Italian Post Made in Italy series - Collectors Club of Great Britain

Sender 0374-0376: Nico Peroz (direct swap)
Sent from Milan (Lombardy / Italy), on 02-04.10.2012


  1. These are fantastic postcards! The views are just gorgeous. We also have a few beautifully-shaped but dangerously active volcanoes in the Philippines. They are a wonderful sight to see but scary when they start acting up. I also adore the stamp - that doesn't look like a pharmacy to me but a very nice building interior, hahaha.

    1. One of my dreams is to visit Iceland, but with each passing year my prudence and my convenience increases, so that I will probably never do that. Regarding the pharmacy, the interior is neo-gothic, so probably unique among pharmacies. :)

    2. It's a very unique pharmacy indeed!
      I also dreamed of visiting Iceland - it's a place I have heard so much about with its very interesting natural environment.

  2. Lipari looks very crowded. I wouldn't think too many of the residents have a view of the sea.

    this word verification is extremely frustrating - this is my 5th attempt.
    do you find it necessary?

    1. I don't understand What you mean. :)

    2. sometimes the letters and numbers are really hard to read. I find that I blogger already blocks 99% of the spammer and I don't need to put this extra step into the comment box.

    3. Now I understand. I remove it. I'll see what happens. :)