The Internet's most comprehensive Travel website for Italy
Use quote marks to search for exact names eg "Hotel Florence"

Lipari Island in the distance

Boats in Lipari harbor

A store in Lipari town

Panorama of the town of Lipari

Cathedral cloister, Lipari

Welcome to Lipari
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 11,000
Official website:
Wikipedia: Lipari
Map: MapQuest

Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands (37.6 sq. km.), sitting about 25 nautical miles off the north east coast of Sicily.   The island group is an archipelego formed by successive waves volcanic activity in the long ago.

Sitting under the Mediterranean sky, and consisting mostly of pumice and obsidian, Lipari is a very popular place, particularly in the summer months.  How popular?  Well, it's resident population is about 11,000 souls, but the summer number swells to around 200,000, making it (like Capri) one more of those overly crowded paradises for which Italy is justifiably famous.

In addition to its largest center, Lipari town, there are four villages, including Pianoconte, on the west side of the island, Quattropani in the  northwest, Canneto on the eastern shore and Acquacalda on the northern shore.  Dotted round the island are various still steaming fumaroles in natural settings, and thermal baths and spas that have been enjoyed long before Roman times and which are enjoyed now by modern day hedonists (like us).

Evidence of Lipari's volcanic origins are not hard to find.  Dotted around the island one can find a few steamy fumaroles indicating continuing activity down below the surface, and there are abundant outcroppings of volcanic black obsidian and white pumice. Indeed, pumice and obsidian mining which have been going on for centuries, continue to play an important role in the local economy.

The island has been continously inhabited from at least 5000 BC, or earlier, and it has seen its share of bloody mayhem over its long history.  The Greeks have been here, so to the Carthaginians, the Etruscans, the Romans, and Byzantines.  Arab pirates and raiders produced much loss and caused the near abandonment of the Island, but in due course, they were soundly trounced by the Normans, under whose protection Lipari was repopulated.

The remainder of Lipari's history closely parallels that of all of Sicily, which we won't repeat here except to note that after Barbarossa ransacked the place and deported everyone, the Island was once again repopulated under the rule of Charles V with Spaniards.  The massive walls around the central part of Lipari town were built on the old Greek acropolis during his reign starting around 1556 AD.

The massive earthquake of 1783 caused widespread destruction of much of medieval Lipari town.  Since then, there has been significant reconstruction and extension of the town.  Most of the buildings and monuments of interest remain within the medieval walls, however, including the cathedral and an archaeological "zone".

The very impressive archaelogical museum, Museo Eoliano, also within the walls, holds a miscelleny of artifacts from the bronze age to the present, and covers a variety of subjects from vulcanology to paleontology to the maritime history of the Tyrrhenian and Mediterranean.

In the summer months, only a few authorized vehicles are allowed in the town center.  But for pedestrians, finding your way around Lipari town is easy, particularly if you board one of the small local buses to get you from place to place.

There are only two main roads, the Via Garibaldi and the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, intersected by three principal streets, Via Maurolico, Via XXIV Maggio and Via Umberto.  Follow Via Garibaldi south to the Marina Corta a long-time popular waterside hangout for locals and visitors alike.

Around the Marina there is an abundance of cafes, restaurants and night clubs.  Here you can also catch a ferry to Sicily and some of the other islands in the archipelago.  If you arrive at Marina Corta in the morning, savour a traditional Lipari breakfast: granita caffe con panna e brioche (coffee on crushed ice with a brioche or bread).

There are many other local foods and wines you will want to try during your stay.  The extra virgin olive oil, wines, cheeses, aubergine, locally grown capers, fish, rabbit, combine in many of the dishes one can select for a liesurely, and sometimes luxurious, lunch or dinner.  One wine of note is the Malvasia desert wine produced on Lipari and other Aeolian islands.  Your sweet tooth will be entirely satisfied with pastries such as Nacatuli and Spicchitedda and connolo alla siciliana.

If you can, we highly recommend you travel the coastal road in a large circle around the island and pay a visit to the other villages, each interesting and charming it its own way.  And, as we usually advise, do your best to visit Lipari outside the high season.  July and August are crowded and hot, hot, hot.

By Vian Andrews, October 11th, 2005

Region of Sicilia

38 30′ 00″ N, 14 56′ 00″ E


By Car:  Travel west from Messina to Milazzo, or east from Palermo on Sicily's northern coast.  Take the ferry from Messina to Lipari town.


Ferry services


Villa Augustus

Gattopardo Park Hotel

Coast of Lipari Island



Tell us about your trip to Lipari.  What were your favorite places to visit, stay, and dine.  Contribute
Place of Exile: During the Fascist era, Mussolini had many of his political opponents exiled to Lipari, including Emilio Lussu, Carlo Rosselli, and Giuseppe Ghetti.