Lipari

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Lipari (Sicilian: Lìpari, Latin: Lipara, 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 town. It has a permanent population of 11,000; during the May–September tourist season, its population may reach up to 20,000.

Contents

Geography

Lipari is the largest of a chain of islands in a volcanic archipelago that straddles the gap between Vesuvius and Etna. The 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, Quattropani in the northwest, Acquacalda along the northern coast, and Canneto is on the eastern shore north of Lipari town.

Geology

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 9000 BC (C14 exams by Keller). The last recorded eruptions occurred in the fifth century CE when the airborne pumice covered Roman villages on the island. The volcanos are considered active, though steaming fumaroles may still be seen and hydrothermal activity. 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 internationally.

History

Ancient history

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 5000 BC, though a local legend gives the eponymous name "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 charred stratum.

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