Volcanoes of the Isole Eolie
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Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands)

Last modified on 31 May 1996

Map of the Eolian Islands, taken from Pichler (1981).

This enchanting view (to the east) is from the Chiesetta di San Bartolo on Alicudi and shows, from left to right, the neighboring islands of Filicudi, Salina, and Lipari. From other vantage points, also Stromboli and Vulcano could be perfectly seen, while Panarea was not visible because it lies in line behind Salina. Taken on the afternoon of 30 August 1994.

Sunset seen from Leni, on the south side of Salina, 26 September 1995. The Isole Eolie offer frequent and ever-changing displays of this kind.


The Eolian Islands (also known as the Aeolian, or Lipari, Islands) lie off the northeastern coast of Sicily. The south coast of Vulcano lies about 25 km NW of the northern tip of the Milazzo peninsula; Stromboli lies about 75 km to the north of that point. The archipelago consists of seven major and numerous small to very small islands. Lipari, the largest of the islands (see table below), is also the most populated and the administrative center of six of the seven islands (Comune di Lipari); Salina is politically independent and has three individual towns (comuni), Santa Marina di Salina, Malfa, and Leni.

Alicudi 5.2 675 100 Filicudi 9.5 774 250 Salina 26.8 962 2300 Lipari 37.6 602 8500 Vulcano 21 500 450 Panarea 3.4 421 300 Stromboli 12.6 924 (or 926) 400


Photo above: Most remote and westernmost of the Aeolian Islands, Alicudi has retained much of the "savage" character that all of these islands once had. Rising steeply from the sea, the island does not offer much opportunity to build streets; thus there is only one leading from the port to the largest hotel on the island - its length may be at best 300 m. Everything else is stairs. The principal means of transport on Alicudi is donkeys.
The highest place on the island is 675 m-high Montagnola, with its neighboring peak Filo dell'Arpa (662 m).
Geologically, Alicudi is more recent than previously believed. In a recent paper by Manetti et al. (1995b), an age of 28 ka is given for the youngest volcanics on the island, a cluster of lava domes (Filo dell'Arpa) within a small summit caldera both of which are visible in the image. Photo taken on 30 August 1994.

Geological sketch map of Alicudi, simplified version after Manetti et al. (1995b)


Photo above: Significantly more complex than Alicudi, Filicudi has several small villages, a street network, and more varied volcanic centers. The highest point is Monte Fossa Felci (named identically as Salina's highest peak) reaching 774 m. It is the high peak visible slightly off the center to the right. Important secondary volcanic centers are Montagnola (got it? This name is used frequently as well in the Eolie) and Capo Graziano. The youngest of these features is the dacitic lava dome cluster of Montagnola (visible behind left slope of Monte Fossa delle Felci), probably extruded some 35,000 years ago. Photo taken 30 August 1994.

Geological and structural sketch map of Filicudi, after Manetti et al. (1995a). Click on image to see the large (85 k) version and legend.

View of the well-preserved lava dome complex of Monte Montagnola from the SE, 9 September 1995. The village of Pecorini lies in the area below the dome. Monte Fossa Felci lies out of the image to the right.

View from Valdichiesa, on the E flank of the Fossa Felci complex, down towards Filicudi Porto and the lava dome complex forming Capo Graziano, on 10 September 1995. The islands of Salina (left) and Lipari (right) are visible in the background. View is to the SE.


Photo above: Salina, the second largest of the Isole Eolie, is seen here from the southwest, from the aliscafo (hydrofoil) connecting Lipari with Filicudi/Alicudi. The notably regular peak in the center is Monte dei Porri (860 m), superseded in height by Monte Fossa delle Felci (962 m) to the right: this is the highest mountain of the archipelago. On the left-hand slope of Monte dei Porri there is the vast amphitheater-shaped crater of Pollara, site of a violent late Quaternary eruption (maybe 13,000 BP). The western (left) half of this crater lies below the sea. One of the most suggestive places in the Eolie, Pollara has its most amazing spot in Punta Perciato, an impressive natural arc that forms the westernmost tip of the island and is well visible in the enlarged version of this image. Distant neighbor, Stromboli island lies on left margin of the photograph. Photo taken 30 August 1994.

Simpified geological map of Salina, from Barca & Ventura (1993). Click on the image for large version and description.

More about Salina and its volcanoes


Stromboli seen from the north on 18 March 1992.

Simpified geological map of Stromboli, from Hornig-Kjarsgaard et al. (1993). Click on the image for large version and description.

More about Stromboli


Panarea seen from the SW on 7 November 1990.

Panarea was until recently believed to be one of the oldest of the Aeolian islands. However, recent studies have revealed that eruptive activity has occurred as recently as during the early Holocene (less than 10 ka ago). More info about this surprisingly complex island will be available soon!


Photo above: Panoramic view of the southern part of Lipari, from the summit of Monte S. Angelo, on 15 September 1995. Notable features are annotated (visible in the large ca. 150 k JPG version of the photo).

Simplified geological map of Lipari, taken from Crisci et al. (1991).

More about Lipari and its volcanoes


Photo above: Vulcano, the southernmost island of the Eolie, has given name to all volcanoes in the world. Site of spectacular activity in the Ancient times and through the 19th century, the crater visible in this photo (Gran Cratere or Fossa Grande) has last erupted in 1888-1890. The long repose period since then and the charm of the place has allowed the rapid development of a settlement, merely a cluster of small houses thirty years ago, now an ever-growing accumulation of villas and hotels. Second to Vesuvio, this is Italy's most dangerous volcano due to the presence of this community in a more-than-irrational proximity to the crater.

The Gran Cratere is filling the foreground of this image; behind (and slightly to the right) lies the peninsula of Vulcanello, formed only during the past <2500 years; in the central background is the complex island of Lipari with its Monte S. Angelo forming what appears to be the highest point (although that is Monte Chirica, at 602 m). The twinned cones of Salina's Monte dei Porri (left) and Monte Fossa delle Felci form the left skyline. Image was taken from below the highest part of Gran Cratere (391 m) on 18 April 1995.

Geological sketch map of Vulcano island, from Ventura (1994). Click on image for large version and explanation.

More about Vulcano

To the REFERENCES page


This page contains information about how to get to the Eolian Islands, where to find places to stay, and how to move from one island to another. You will also find some important contact addresses and fax numbers (e-mail still is not very widespread in this ambient).

Go to the travel info page for the details

To STROMBOLI home page

To BB's volcano home page

To Vesuvio Decade Volcano

To The Central Italian Volcanoes