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9 min.

Well, my love affair with Lipari, one of the most beautiful Aeolian Islands, started a bit like a huge dislike…

Do you know those first nightmarish dates? When fate seems to row against you, tensions arise, but somehow there’s such an attraction that you fall in love in a matter of seconds, and with each passing day, initial mishaps only make you smile? It was just like that 🙂

I was supposed to stay three days mid-October to attend a tourist buyers-sellers workshop, and I already felt the time was too short and the journey too uncomfortable. Still, the adverse weather, the lack of an essential plan B in this area of the year, and organizational chaos on-site shortened the stay to minimum terms made the trip exasperating and nullified the workshop.

A truly surreal nightmare! Despite everything I wrote in this introduction, Lipari conquered me. Once on the hydrofoil bringing me back after only one day, I felt like I was leaving a place I had knew forever… oh, I do love overwhelming passions!

The island of Lipari, precious pearl of the Aeolian Islands

Things to do in Lipari

Well, do as much as you can, and you won’t regret it! The island of Lipari is a true pleasure for all our senses and represents the essence of Italy as now we only too rarely experience.

Everything here is “typical” and simply beautiful: white houses with flat roofs, the cobbled alleys, Baroque towering churches, the scents of rosemary, capers and gorse being the leitmotiv to any stroll, the bright colors of bougainvillea that cover everything and I guess never wither, the delicacy of hibiscus and heather that dot the island, the white and black beaches following one another, the other six Aeolian islands that surround it and the sea, a crystal clear sea that reflects and enhances everything.
No coincidence, both Greek and Latin mythology, and classical literature have dedicated so many verses and countless pages telling about this tiny place in the world …

Downtown Lipari

Lipari town center can be visited walking in only a few hours. If you have little time, you can leave your luggage at Luigi’s store in front of the hydrofoils jetty and start walking uphill from Marina Lunga along Il Corso as liparese people call Corso Vittorio Emanuele, their main shopping street.

Halfwayway I suggest you take the first picturesque street on your left up to Piazza Mazzini, known as Sopra la Civita. Its panoramic terrace is wonderful, but unfortunately, they are working on the square, and I was told it’s like that since 2011. So Italian…

The square is dominated by the Castle, one of the most important and best-preserved museum complexes in the Mediterranean. Inside this ancient fortress, you can admire the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, the remains of the Monastery of the Holy Savior whose cloister is worth a detour, the interesting Aeolian Archaeological Museum (6 € for adults, 3 € from 18 to 25 years old and free for children), the most panoramic necropolis ever and then don’t miss a scenic walk along the perimeter of the walls.

Leaving the Castle behind you, walk downhill along pretty Via Garibaldi, with its souvenir shops, the flower-filled side alleys, and the incredible outlet on Piazza S. Onofrio, known as Marina Corta. This square is probably the typical Italian piazza foreign people have in mind: lots of restaurants and bars, fishing boats, local people knowing each other, kids everywhere, the church of the Souls of Purgatory right on the pier, and on the right the suggestive seventeenth-century church of St. Joseph.

In Marina Corta, I spent my last super cool hours in Lipari. I sat by the sea at the Chitarra Bar, taking notes and letting my gaze wander while enjoying a very traditional homemade pistachio granita. Moments of perfect happiness …

Sightseeing on the island

As you might have guessed the island of Lipari is relatively small, but the things to see outside the old town are not that few and above all they are scattered around; I, therefore, recommend you get in touch with a local transport rental service to rent an ecological and silent e-bike (like those I told you about in the post on Cinque Terre and eastern Liguria e-bikes excursions) or a scooter or even a fantastic and very cool Citroen Mehari.

Unfortunately, I had not enough time to let me carry away by the island’s beauty as I usually do, and I then headed to Laura who drove me around with her taxi making me discover the local history, traditions, and the best viewpoints. A beautiful tour and a great guide 🙂

The first stop on my tour was Canneto, a charming seaside resort a few kilometers from the main town on the other side of Monte Rosa. Laura explained that this beautiful sandy cove originally housed the families of miners employed in the local quarries of pumice.

We then stopped to admire the so-called Spiagge Bianche (i.e., white beaches): a candid bay owing its crystal clear sand and water to pumice sediments. Useless to tell you my desire to postpone the hydrofoil to stay here for a swim and relax in the still-warm sun!

Acquacalda also deserves a stage: the settlement was built on the volcanic cone of Mount Chirica, which last erupted in 1600 dripping in different ways and timings and therefore creating distinct white areas of very light pumice stone (so light as to float!) and darkest ones composed by black shiny obsidian, like in Punta Castagna. Nothing is as stunning as nature … In this area of the island, you can still see the industrial installations for the extraction of pumice stone, closed in 2000 with the inscription of the Aeolian Islands into the Unesco World Heritage’s list “for their geologic and volcanology uniqueness.”

Arrived in Quattropani we enjoyed a spectacular view of Salina! Beautiful.

Once there, do me a favor: take the old street to Chiesa Vecchia (i.e., Old Church). I had no time because I stopped buying Malvasia, capers, and other local yummy products, but Laura told me that there is the most amazing view. So, please do take a pic for me!

Near Pianoconte, the landscape changes, and you find yourself among gardens and vineyards. In this area, you also get the ancient Terme di San Calogero, active until the ’70s. If you come up here, I recommend the Memory Museum that traces the local customs through the history of the baths and the pumice quarries.

Before getting back to town, don’t miss the Quattrocchi Belvedere. From this square, you can admire the island of Vulcano,  among the so-called rocks of the Ants and the picturesque cliffs of Pietralunga and Pietra Menalda. The perfect panorama!

L'isola di Lipari, perla delle Eolie

While I was there, the island hosted a blog tour with the best international travel bloggers, and my friend Rick wrote this post about his own experience.

Getting to the Aeolian Islands

Be aware that as I type this paragraph I laugh, like hysterically laughing …

From my place on the Italian Riviera (Liguria), the cheapest and easiest way (200€) seemed to be a Volotea flight from Genoa to Catania, followed by a three-hour car to Milazzo and then a USTICA hydrofoil till Lipari. Would I recommend it to you? I do not know! It literally went all wrong due to delays at the airport, with the bus, and then the adverse sea conditions that forced me to stay in Milazzo, losing an entire day (I stayed at the Hotel la Bussola on the waterfront, and this I can recommend). Probably on sunny days, with calm seas and punctual transport, the result is a pure fairytale journey …

Other options are the hydrofoil from Messina or Reggio Calabria, with Ustica or Siremar lines, or by ferry from Naples.
Depending on your starting point, even flying to Palermo and taking a hydrofoil to Stromboli and then to Lipari might be a good solution.

Where to sleep

This I can recommend without hesitating: the hotel Cutimare in Acquacalda is perfect for a relaxing holiday! From its panoramic terrace, the view of Salina, Panarea, and Stromboli is a dream and the sea nearby is the icing on the cake.

On their website you can check seasonal rates and special offers.

Where to eat

Here is the paragraph that really counts for the islanders and for those who visit them: good food!

Respecting the local tradition, I had lunch at Ristorante Filippino on the City Hall square and had an amazing meal: excellent fresh fish cooked to perfection.

For dinner, I opted for the Trattoria del Vicolo, in a narrow side alley of Corso Vittorio Emanuele, and I do recommend it! It’s family-run, and both husband and wife love their place and love to welcome their guests. The typical products are matched and cooked with an inspired flair and are a real pleasure. You’ll let me know!

I also suggest you grab something at Essepiù via Garibaldi. It’s a small, definitely touristy restaurant, but their cuisine is excellent. Here I found a delicious homemade caper jam perfect to go with cheeses and salted bread 😉

Now I should also mention the holy Sicilian granita, but the topic deserves a dedicated post… history and authentic recipes are coming soon!

L'isola di Lipari, perla delle Eolie

Meanwhile I’ll click on “publish” sipping the Malvasia I bought in Lipari …

P.S. the other beauties composing the Aeolian Islands are Alicudi, Filicudi, Salina, Vulcano, Panarea, and Stromboli, and I’m already planning a sailing holiday to visit them!

For a GPS version of this post, check GPSmyCity, an app I heartily recommend!

So we came to the floating island of Aeolia, where Aeolus lived, son of Hippotas, dear to the deathless gods. A wall of unbroken bronze surrounds it, and the cliffs are sheer. In those halls his twelve children live as well, six daughters and six fine sons, and he has given his daughters to his sons in marriage. They are always feasting with their brave father and good mother, with endless good food set before them. All day long the house is full of savoury smells, and the courtyard echoes to the banquet’s sound, while at night they sleep by the wives they love, on well-covered well-strung beds.

          We came, then, to their city with its fine palace, and Aeolus entertained me there for a month, questioning me on everything: Troy, the Argive fleet, and the Achaeanreturn. And I told him the whole tale in order. When I asked, in turn, to depart with his help, he too denied me nothing. He gave me a leather bag, made from the flayed hide of a nine-year old ox, and imprisoned all the winds there. The son of Cronos had made him the winds’ keeper, able to raise or calm them as he wished. He placed the bag in my hollow ship and tied it tight with shining silver wire, so not even the smallest breath might escape. But he first called on the West Wind to blow and set my ships and their crews on our homeward course, though it was not to benefit us, ruined by our own foolishness.

The Odyssey, book X, verses 1-25

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Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.