Lìpari, , ancient Greek:
Meligunis) is the largest of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the north coast of Sicily, and the name of the island's main
View of Lipari
It has a permanent population of 11,000; during the
May-September tourist season, its population may reach up to
the largest of a chain of islands in a volcanic archipelago that straddles the
gap between Vesuvius and Etna.
island has a surface area of 37.6 km² and is 30 km from
Sicily. Besides the main town, most of the year-round population
resides in one of the four main villages: Pianoconte
is almost due west across the island,
in the northwest, Acquacalda
along the northern coast, and Canneto
is on the eastern shore north of Lipari
A pumice mine just east of
It is generally accepted that the island was created by a
succession of four volcanic movements, the most important of which
was the third one, presumably lasting from 20,000 BC to 13,000 BC.
A further important phenomenon should have happened around 9,000 BC
by Keller). The last recorded
eruptions occurred in the fifth century CE when the airborne
covered Roman villages on the island.
The volcanos are considered inactive, though steaming fumaroles
may still be seen. As a result of the
volcanic origins, the island is covered with pumice and obsidian
. Pumice mining has become a large industry
on Lipari, and the pale pumice from Lipari is shipped
Lipari's position has made the harbor of strategic importance. In
Neolithic times Lipari was, with Sardinia
one of the few centers of the commerce of obsidian, a hard black
volcanic glass prized by Neolithic peoples for the sharp cutting
edge it could produce. Lipari's history is rich in incidents as is
witnessed by the recent retrievals of several necropolis
and other archaeological treasures.
Man seems to have inhabited the island already in 5,000 BC, though
a local legend gives the eponymous
"Liparus" to the leader of a people coming from Campania
. Its continuous occupation may have been
interrupted violently when the late 9th century Ausonian
civilisation site was burned and apparently
not rebuilt. Many household objects have been retrieved from the
Colonists from Knidos under
Pentathlos arrived at Lipara in 580 BC and settled on the site of
the village now known as Castello or la Cittade.
successfully fought the Etruscans for control of the Tyrrhenian.
Syracuse at the time of the fateful intervention of Athens in the
west in 427, Lipara withstood the assault of Athenians and their
allies. Carthaginian forces succeeded in holding the site briefly
during their struggles with Dionysios I, tyrant of Syracuse
394, but once they were gone the polis
entered a three-way
alliance which included Dionysios' new colony at Tyndaris. Lipara
prospered, but in 304 Agathokles took the town by treachery and is
said to have lost pillage from it in a storm at sea. Many objects
recovered from wrecks of antiquity are now in the Aeolian Museum at
Lipari. Lipara became a Carthaginian naval base during the first
, but fell to Roman forces in
252-251 BC, and again to Agrippa in Octavian's campaign against
Pompey. Under the Roman Empire, it was a place of retreat, baths
(the hydrothermic waters are still used as a spa) and exile.
History from the Middle Ages to the present day
Lipari was probably an episcopal see from the 3rd century, (first
bishop was St. Agatone) and at least from the 6th century the
precious relics of St. Bartholomew
could be admired in its cathedral.
In the 9th
century, Sicily was conquered by the Arabs,
and soon Saracen pirates began to raid across
Sea, with dramatic effects for Lipari.
In 839 the
Saracens slaughtered much of the population, the relics of St.
Bartholomew were moved to Benevento, and Lipari was eventually almost totally
Arabs throughout Sicily between 1060 and 1090, and repopulated the
island once their rule was secure. The Lipari episcopal seat was
reinstated in 1131.
Though still plagued by pirate raids, the island was continually
populated from this point onward. Rule of the island was passed from the
Normans to the Hohenstaufen Kings,
followed by the Angevins, and then the
Aragonese, until Carlos I, the Aragonese King
became the Spanish King, and
then quickly was crowned Holy Roman
Emperor Charles V.
In 1544, Ariadeno Barbarossa
ransacked Lipari and
deported the entire population. Charles V then had his Spanish
subjects repopulate the island and build the massive city walls
atop the walls of the ancient Greek acropolis
The walls created a mighty fortress which still stands today. The
acropolis, high above the main town, was a safe haven for the
populace in the event of a raid. While these walls protected the
main town, it was not safe to live on the rest of the island until
Mediterranean piracy was largely eradicated, which did not truly
until the 19th century.
, Lipari Island was a
destination for the confinement
members of the political opposition: among them, Emilio Lussu
, Giuseppe Ghetti
An interesting museum has recently been created to collect a
relevant part of local archaeological retrievals; its disparate
sections relating to the human history of the entire Aeolian
Islands from prehistoric to classical times, also cover vulcanology
, marine history, and the paleontology
of the western
Ruggiero had founded a Benedictine abbey
in Patti, and in 1131
the antipope Anacletus II made
Patti an episcopal see, uniting it with the Abbey of Lipari.
Pope Eugenius III
confirmed the action of the antipope, the first legitimate pastor
of the see being Gilbertus.In 1399, the sees of Lipari and Patti
The Symbol of Lipari
After seven years of historic research, the symbol of Lipari (a
decoration of the baroque
period which dates
back to the 16th century) found its identity. The symbol of Lipari
is uniquely displayed in the corners of few ancient-made banisters.
The symbol is exhibited in the balconies and on the streets of the
island. The decoration, created by able artisan hands, is achieved
through the “wrought” technique to form the centre-piece (the
welded central element of the unique decoration)of a unique design.
However, today the symbol is found on balconies with a modern
manufacture technique. The design is fused by soldering, but with
less complex curves, reminiscent of Baroque tradition.
Why the Lipari symbol? The symbol represents the island of Lipari
and has been re-launched from ancient times. It is present in every
nook and cranny where the Baroque taste is still popular despite
the introduction of new styles. Only in the last year has a
historical cultural research on the decoration been
Professor Antonietta Rosa Raso provided further insight after a
long dialogue at the Baroque contest and I acquired a clearer
historical concept of the elements which compose the symbol. The
symbol of Lipari is composed of two Norman swords which cut the
four winds, characterised by curls located in the four opposite
points. Another important element is the centre-piece nail. The
rewarding power emphasises of protection of the symbol. Firstly
signified by the aesthetic design and finally the import of the
symbol. The swords which cut the four winds serve as protection
from the storms represented in the cardinal points of the Arabic
half moon and the centre-piece nail to protect the larger shield
(embodies Baroque artistry which is equipped with the powerful
Spanish shields to defend itself during the bloody battles). Given
the ancient traditions and import, the symbol of Lipari is
ultimately an amulet to protect from misfortune.
Historical research conducted by Francesco Bertè in conjunction
with Professor Antonietta Rosa Raso.Lipari 10 February 2005
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