Summer is coming and we’re already dreaming of our next holidays! Sicilian people are very lucky because we have a lot of choices of beautiful places and lots of islands. Among these, I’d like to talk about the nicest ones: the Eolian.

They are sometimes referred to as the Lipari Islands or Lipari group after their largest island is a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily. There are seven islands: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi and Panarea and a set of minor islands and rocks between Panarea and Basilluzzo.

Let’s have a look at each one more closely:

  • Lipari: in ancient Greek Lipàra or Meligunìs which seems to refer to honey, in ancient Greek méli. According to another hypothesis the name derives from a Mediterranean theme from which also the French libe, with the meaning of “block of stone”.
  • Salina: in ancient Greek Didảmē or sister, in reference to the two main mountains of the island, similar to each other.The current name refers instead to a salt water pond in Lingua, once used as a saline.
  • Volcano: in ancient Greek Hierà. The island was consecrated to the god Hephaestus, called Vulcan by the Romans. From the latter comes the current name of the island. 
  • Stromboli: Ancient Greek: Stronghộlē. 
  • Filicudi: Ancient Greek Phoinicodēs or Phoinicùssa; both names derived from fόinix, indicating the dwarf palm, but also purple. 
  • Alicudi: in ancient Greek EricÄdēs or Ericùssa, with reference to the heather plant, in ancient Greek erìkē.
  • Panarea: Ancient Greek: Eugano nymos. The current name, of uncertain etymology, is attested for the first time in the Ravenna Cosmography in the VI-VII century as Pagnarea.

The islands are named after the god Aeolus, king of the winds. According to Greek mythology, Aeolus sheltered on these islands: he lived in Lipari and could predict weather conditions and winds by observing the shape of smoke puffed by an active volcano, probably Stromboli. Thanks to this ability, Aeolus gained great popularity and fame as king of the winds, giving the islands their name.

According to Pliny, these islands were also called by the Greeks Hephaistiàdēs, and consequently by the Romans, along with Aeoliae and Lipari, Volcaniae. The name Lipari, instead, according to the myth comes from Liparo, eponymous hero who colonized the island and became its king.

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