INFORMATION ABOUT THE ITALIAN ISLANDS

Other Islands

 

Alicudi

Is the westernmost of the eight islands that make up the Aeolian archipelago, a volcanic island chain north of Sicily. The island is about 40 km (25 mi) west of Lipari, has a total area of 5.2 km2 (2.0 sq mi), and is roughly circular.

History

The island was formed by the long-extinct Montagnola volcano, roughly 150,000 years ago. It has been suggested that the last evolutive act of the island took place only 28,000 years ago.
The island was first populated as long ago as 17th century BC, as some archaeological evidence from this period has been found. Roman ceramic fragments, dating from many centuries later, can be found on the eastern coast of the island. The modern name of “Alicudi” is a corruption of the island’s ancient Greek name of Ericusa (island of Erica), derived from the plant known as the Erica, more commonly known as heather, which still grows on the island’s slopes. For many centuries, Alicudi was the target of frequent incursions by pirates. Consequently, the island’s population was forced to find shelter in small houses constructed on high terraces and also meant that simple agriculture and cultivation of the peach were the foundations of the modest island economy.

 

 

Budelli

Is an island in the Maddalena archipelago, near the strait of Bonifacio in northern Sardinia, Italy. It is part of the La Maddalena National Park. Budelli is located several hundred meters south of the Razzoli and Santa Maria islands. It has a surface of 1.6 square kilometres (0.62 sq mi) and an overall coastal span of 12.3 kilometres (7.6 mi). The highest point is Monte Budello, at 87 metres (285 ft). Budelli is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It is especially renowned for its Spiaggia Rosa (“Pink Beach”), in the south-eastern part of the island, which owes its typical color to microscopic fragments of corals and shells such as Miriapora truncata and Miniacina miniacea. Budelli is one of four uninhabited islands in the Maddalena archipelago: the others are Caprera, Spargi, and Razzoli. The island was purchased in October 2013 for €2.94 million. The buyer was a New Zealander, who intends to protect the ecosystem on the island. However, the Italian government has passed laws to begin the process to repossess the island.

 

 

Burano

Is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy; like Venice itself, it could more correctly be called an archipelago of four islands linked by bridges. It is situated near Torcello at the northern end of the Lagoon, and is known for its work and brightly coloured homes.

History

The island was probably settled by the Romans, and in the 6th century was occupied by people from Altino, who named it for one of the gates of their former city. Two stories are attributed to how the city obtained its name. One is that it was initially founded by the Buriana family, and another is that the first settlers of Burano came from the small island of Buranello, about 8 kilometres (5 miles) to the south. Although the island soon became a thriving settlement, it was administered from Torcello and had none of the privileges of that island or of Murano. It rose in importance only in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles, being introduced to such a trade via Venetian-ruled Cyprus. When Leonardo da Vinci visited in 1481, he visited the small town of Lefkara and purchased a cloth for the main altar of the Duomo di Milano. The lace was soon exported across Europe, but trade began to decline in the 18th century and the industry did not revive until 1872, when a school of lacemaking was opened. Lacemaking on the island boomed again, but few now make lace in the traditional manner as it is extremely time-consuming and therefore expensive.

Main sights

Burano is also known for its small, brightly painted houses, which are popular with artists. The colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot. Other attractions include the Church of San Martino, with a leaning campanile and a painting by Giambattista Tiepolo (Crufixion, 1727), the Oratorio di Santa Barbara and the Museum and School of Lacemaking.

 

Capraia

Is an Italian island, is the northwesternmost of the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, and the third largest after Elba and Giglio; it is also a comune (municipality) belonging to the Province of Livorno. The island has a population of about 400.

History

The Greeks called the island Aegyllon or Aegyllion, its current name may have originated in the Etruscan “carpa” – stone – a word that comes from the archaic Greek “Kalpe” – sepulchral stone. The Romans called the island Capraria, its name possibly then morphing to reflect the presence of wild goats (Greek: copros). In the 4th century AD it housed a cenobium, where the church of St. Stephen now stands. The early 5th century poet Rutilius recorded that the island was “a mess” and that there were many monastic communities by his time. In 1055 it was raided by Saracen pirates, and later the Republic of Pisa owned it. It became part of the Republic of Genoa after the Battle of Meloria, being assigned to the patrician Jacopo de Mari (1430). In 1540 the Genoese built the Fortress of St. George on a pre-existing fortification that the African corsair Turgut Reis had demolished. The Genoese also built three coastal watch towers (part of a system of Genoese towers) to protect against pirates.

900

Marettimo

Is one of the Aegadian Islands in the Mediterranean Sea west of Sicily, Italy. It forms a part of the municipality of Favignana in the Province of Trapani. From Trapani, it takes about an hour to reach the island.

Flora and Fauna

The island is home to about 500 plant species, many of them indigenous and very rare, among the most endangered being Bupleurum dianthifolium, Brassica macrocarpa, Scilla hughii and Thymus richardii subsp. nitidus; the last was chemically investigated. There is a sizeable population of donkeys and horses on the island. There are wild goats, rabbits, eagles, peregrine falcons and plenty of screeching gulls.

History

The ancient name of the island was Hiera, part of the Greek name Hierà Nèsos which means “Sacred Island” in Greek. Indeed, its Latin name used by Pliny was also “Sacra”. The name Marettimo probably comes from the words mar (sea) and timo (thyme) due to the profusion of thyme on the island. However, it may stem from a local pronunciation of the word “maritimo”.
The island was an important observation point during Roman times, hence the Casa Romana, where it was easy to observe passing maritime traffic. The sea routes between Italy and North Africa and Italy and Spain (via Sardinia) would pass Marettimo. Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi (1099–1165 or 1166), the Moroccan Muslim geographer, cartographer, Egyptologist and traveller who lived in Sicily at the court of King Roger II, mentioned this island, naming it(the island of Malitima) on page 583 of his book Nuzhat al mushtaq fi ihtiraq ghal afaq, otherwise known as The Book of Roger, considered a geographic encyclopaedia of the medieval world. There is a well restored Byzantine-Norman church adjacent to the Casa Romana. There are several impressive grottos around the island’s coast and innumerable spots for excellent swimming in pristine waters on the western coast accessible only by boat.

900

Pantelleria Ancient Greek Cossyra

Is an Italian island in the Strait of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, 100 km (62 miles) southwest of Sicily and 60 km (37 miles) east of the Tunisian coast. Tunisia is visible on clear days. Administratively Pantelleria is a comune belonging to the Sicilian province of Trapani. With an area of 83 square kilometres (32 sq mi), it is the largest volcanic satellite island of Sicily. The last eruption occurred in 1891 below sea level, and today phenomena related to volcanic activity can be observed, such as hot springs and fumaroles. The highest peak, called Montagna Grande, reaches 836 m (2,743 feet) above sea level.

Natural areas

A large nature reserve is on the island, and a natural lake, called Specchio di Venere (Venus’ mirror). It formed in an extinct volcanic crater, and is fed by rain and hot springs. The lake is 12 m (39 ft) deep and is popular for swimming, hot springs, and mud bathing. Other natural attractions are paths to the sea, a large network of trekking paths, hot springs, and a popular natural sauna fed by vapours filtering through rocks in a small cave.

Monuments and other buildings

The island has scattered typical one-level buildings called dammuso of unknown but probably remote origins. A dammuso is a dry stone building with thick walls that usually appear black due to the extensive use of volcanic rock. They have characteristic domes on top painted white to avoid overheating. The domes collect rainwater that is directed to a large tank (usually below the building) or to the nearby soil for use in the dry season. Most of the other constructions were destroyed during the Second World War. One notable exception is the castle Barbacane, a renaissance building formed by an irregularly quadrangular plant with internal court joint to a squared base tower.

Transportation

The island is served by Pantelleria Airport, which is served by Alitalia, connecting Trapani and Palermo, and other companies in summer, connecting the island with Italian cities such as Milan, Rome, Venice, and others. Ferries reach the island from Trapani, and is near the main east-west route through the Mediterranean.

900

Ponza

Is the largest of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago, located 33 km (21 mi) south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is also the name of the commune of the island, a part of the province of Latina in the Lazio region.

Greek and Roman periods

In ancient times the island was called Tyrrhenia. Legend says that Ponza is what is left of the lost island of Tyrrhenia. Ponza is said to have been connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, which sank into the sea with most of the island below the water, with the parts remaining above sea level. The same exact phenomena happened at Capri. According to legend, there was a large city on the ancient island. There has been significant archaeological progress recently that shows this may be true. For example, it was discovered that the harbor floor of nearby Pozzuoli had sunk and risen several times in the last 5,000 years, revealing sunken Roman temples.
Ponza was first colonised by Etruscans. The island was heavily forested with giant trees in ancient times, but the forest is gone and the hills are covered with man-made terraces. Most of these terraces are no longer being used to grow food and grapes and are falling apart, due to lack of maintenance. The tallest hill on the island, called Monte Guardia, still has the rotting stumps of the extinct giant trees over eight feet wide. Crops are grown on these terraces like grapes for wine and cactus pears and fig trees. Ponza is also suspected to be the island of Aeaea in Homer’s Odyssey, as the island of Circe the sorceress, where her cave or grotto was. Today it is known as Grotta della Maga Circe on the west side of the island, between Capo Bianco and Chaia di Luna beach. She was said to have lived in this cave in the winter months, spending the summer atop nearby Mount Circe on the mainland of Italy. This is where the Circe turned Odysseus’ men into animals and cast her spell on and seduced him and lived with him for over a year. On the west side of Ponza is the Grotta di Ulisse O Del Sangue, which means Cave of Ulysses of the Blood. The Grotto or cave is almost directly underneath the hill/peninsula called Il Belvedere, which has the Giardino Botanico Ponziano a botanical garden with a villa and the remains of a castle. These caves or grottoes are popular destinations to visit by boat only. Archaeologists are now investigating Ponza in search of evidence of Homer’s Odyssey.

History

The island was inhabited from neolithic through Roman times. According to local legends, Ponza was named after Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea who tried Jesus of Nazareth for heresy. Pontius Pilate’s family owned a grotto on Ponza, which is still named after him. The Pontius Pilate legend of Ponza’s name has recently come into dispute amongst historians, because the name “Pontia” appears in Strabo’s Geography. This pre-dates the birth of Pilate. It is not known if this is the same name as Ponza or a similar name. Pontia means “Land of Bridges” in Latin and Ponza has many natural arches and natural bridges, so that may be the origin of the name Pontia.

900

Procida

Is one of the Flegrean Islands off the coast of Naples in southern Italy. The island is between Cape Miseno and the island of Ischia. With its tiny satellite island of Vivara, it is a comune of the Metropolitan City of Naples, in the region of Campania. It is very densely populated with its about ten thousand people on a mere 4 km2 (hence more than 2000 people per km2).

Creation of the island

Geologically, Procida was created by the eruption of four volcanoes, now dormant and submerged.

History

Procida was reached by some objects from Mycene in the 16th / 15th centuries BC. Traces have been found on Vivara, an islet off its southwest coast. During the 8th century BC the first Greek settlers to this island were immediately replaced by other Greeks coming from Cuma. The island is mentioned by the Roman satirist, Juvenal, in Sat. 3, 5, as a barren place. Later during Roman rule, Procida became a renowned resort for the patrician class of Rome.

Modern era

During the rule of Charles V the island was granted to the D’Avalos family. Pirate raids continued during this period. Particularly notable was one in 1534, led by the infamous Turk admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa. In 1744 King Charles III made Procida a royal game reserve. In this period the Procidan fleet reached its zenith, backed by a period of flourishing shipbuilding. The population rose to approximately 16,000. In 1799, Procida took part in the revolts that led to the proclamation of the Neapolitan Republic. With the return of the Bourbon dynasty a few months later 12 Procidans were beheaded. The Napoleonic Wars brought several episodes of devastation due to the island’s strategic position in the naval engagements between French and English. In 1860, after the fall of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the island became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy.

 

900

Salina, Sicily

Is an island in the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily, southern Italy. It is the second largest island in the archipelago. Salina is divided between three comuni: Santa Marina on the eastern coast, Malfa to the north, and Leni to the south-west. From Leni down towards the sea is the village of Rinella, Sicily. Above the village of Leni is Valdichiesa in the center of the island. The other smaller villages are Capo Faro, Pollara and Lingua.
Events

There is an annual Caper Festival held on Salina during the first week of June every year. The first week in October is the Eolian Food and Wine week. There is the SalinaDocFest, an International Festival on Narrative Documentary that takes place in Salina every year since 2007.
History

A Greek settlement, from the fourth century BC through to the times of Imperial Rome, once lay on the modern-day site of the small town of Santa Marina. A number of tombs from this era have been discovered further inland. Several traces of Greek and Roman culture have been found on the island. In the Hellenic Age the island was named “Didyme” a Greek name which refers to the two mountains as “twins”. The island was inhabited as far back as the Bronze Age and has been developed and then abandoned many times over the subsequent millennia. Areas on the island, including the two mountain peaks, were designated as a natural reserve in 1981.

Main sights

The salt lake in Lingua was once a site for production of sea salt, hence the name Salina (“salt mill” in Italian).
On the slopes of the Fossa, several Roman tombs have been excavated. Sanctuary of the Madonna del Terzito, located between Malfa and Leni in the saddle known as Valdichiesa between the twin volcanoes, and built in 1630. The religious centre of Salina, it attracts pilgrims on the main feast day of July 23 every year. In the 18th century the ruins of a typical Imperial Roman villa were noted here but have since sunk into the ground.
Transportation

Salina has two ports, Santa Marina and Rinella, served by ferries and hydrofoils from Hydrofoil service is active from Naples, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Messina and Milazzo. There is a regular bus service connecting all the villages on the island. A main road connects Lingua, Santa Marina, Malfa and Pollara and a side road runs between the two volcanoes to Leni and Rinella.

Area: 27 km2
Population: 4000

900

 

San Pietro Island

Is an island approximately 7 kilometres (4 miles) off the South western Coast of Sardinia, Italy, facing the Sulcis peninsula. With 51 square kilometres (19.7 sq mi) it is the sixth largest island of Italy by area. The approximately 6,000 inhabitants are mostly concentrated in the fishing town of Carloforte, the only comune in the island. It is included in the province of Carbonia-Iglesias. It is named after Saint Peter. The island is connected by regular ferry service to Portovesme and Calasetta.

History
The island has been known since ancient times. The Phoenicians called it Enosim or Inosim, while for the Greek it was Hieracon Nesos and for the Romans Accipitrum Insula (Sparrowhawk Island). The latter derived from the presence of the small Eleonora’s falcon, which is still present on the island. San Pietro is home today to remains from the Phoenician, Roman and Sardinian civilizations. According to a legend, the island is so named because St. Peter visited the island in 46 AD. In the 18th century the then-uninhabited San Pietro was colonized by people of Ligurian language and ethnicity, coming from the Republic of Genoa’s colony at Tabarka after it had been taken over by the Bey of Tunisia. Today most of the population has retained a variant of Genoese dialect, called Tabarchino, which is also spoken in the northern part of the next Sant’Antioco island, in Calasetta, of same origin.

 

900

Santo Stefano

Is an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the west coast of Italy, and part of the Pontine Islands. It has a circular shape, is less than 400 metres (1,300 feet) in diameter, and is located 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) east from the nearby island of Ventotene.
Overview

Like the rest of the archipelago, the island was created by volcanic activity. It is dominated by an old prison built by the Bourbons, completed in 1797 and in use until 1965. It has 99 cells 4.50 by 4.20 metres (14.8 by 13.8 ft) around a central watchtower. Built for 600 inmates, it had 800 in 1817 (and 400 on Ventotene). People imprisoned included Carmine Crocco, the most important brigand during the Italian unification, and the anarchist Gaetano Bresci, who killed King Umberto I in 1900. He was imprisoned there for a year before being found hanged in his cell. During the Fascist regime, other prisoners were the future President of Italy Sandro Pertini, Umberto Terracini, Giorgio Amendola, Lelio Basso, Mauro Scoccimarro, Giuseppe Romita, Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi. The island has been uninhabited since the closure of the prison, except for tourists that visit by boat during the day. The island has had several names, such as Partenope, Palmosa, Dommo Stephane and Borca since Roman times. The island was put up for sale in 2012 for the price of €20,000,000. This did not include the prison.
Wildlife

This island once harbored an endemic lizard, the Santo Stefano Lizard (Podarcis sicula sanctistephani). It became extinct in 1965, probably due to feral cats and a snake species.

 

900

Stromboli

Is a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily, containing one of the three active volcanoes in Italy. It is one of the eight Aeolian Islands, a volcanic arc north of Sicily. This name is derived from the Ancient Greek name Strongul? which was given to it because of its round swelling form. The island’s population is about 500. The volcano has erupted many times and is constantly active with minor eruptions, often visible from many points on the island and from the surrounding sea, giving rise to the island’s nickname “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean”. The most recent major eruption was on 13 April 2009. Stromboli stands 926 m (3,034 ft) above sea level, and over 2,700 m (8,860 ft) on average above the sea floor. There are three active craters at the peak. A significant geological feature of the volcano is the Sciara del Fuoco (“Stream of fire”), a big horseshoe-shaped depression generated in the last 13,000 years by several collapses on the northwestern side of the cone. Two kilometers to the northeast lies Strombolicchio, the volcanic plug remnant of the original volcano.

Settlement

From a helicopter, The two villages San Bartolo and San Vincenzo lie in the northeast while the smaller village Ginostra lies in the southwest. Administratively, they are one of the frazione of Lipari. In the early 1900s a few thousand people inhabited the island, but after several emigrations the population numbered a few hundred by the mid-1950s.

Stromboli Volcano

Mt. Stromboli has been in almost continuous eruption for the past 2,000 years. A pattern of eruption is maintained in which explosions occur at the summit craters, with mild to moderate eruptions of incandescent volcanic bombs, at intervals ranging from minutes to hours. This Strombolian eruption, as it is known, is also observed at other volcanoes worldwide. Eruptions from the summit craters typically result in a few short, mild, but energetic bursts, ranging up to a few hundred meters in height, containing ash, incandescent lava fragments and stone blocks. Mt. Stromboli’s activity is almost exclusively explosive, but lava flows do occur at times when volcanic activity is high: an effusive eruption occurred in 2002, the first in 17 years, and again in 2003, 2007, and 2013-14.
Area: 12.6 km²
Country: Italy
Region: Campania
Population: About 500

 

900

Torcello

Is a sparsely populated island at the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon, in north-eastern Italy. It is the oldest continuously populated region of Venice, and once held the largest population of the Republic of Venice.

Famous residents

Ernest Hemingway spent some time there in 1948, writing parts of Across the River and Into the Trees. The novel contains representations of Torcello and its environs. In addition, numerous famous artists, musicians, and movie stars have spent time on the island, a quiet refuge.

History

After the downfall of the Western Roman Empire, Torcello was one of the first lagoon islands to be successively populated by those Veneti who fled the terra ferma (mainland) to take shelter from the recurring barbarian invasions, especially after Attila the Hun had destroyed the city of Altinum and all of the surrounding settlements in 452.[2] Although the hard-fought Veneto region formally belonged to the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna since the end of the Gothic War, it remained unsafe on account of frequent Germanic invasions and wars: during the following 200 years the Lombards and the Franks fuelled a permanent influx of sophisticated urban refugees to the island’s relative safety, including the Bishop of Altino himself. In 638, Torcello became the bishop’s official see for more than a thousand years and the people of Altinum brought with them the relics of Saint Heliodorus, now the patron saint of the island. Torcello benefited from and maintained close cultural and trading ties with Constantinople: however, being a rather distant outpost of the Eastern Roman Empire, it could establish de facto autonomy from the eastern capital. Torcello rapidly grew in importance as a political and trading centre: in the 10th century it had a population often estimated at 10,000-30,000 people although more recent estimates by archeologists place it at closer to a maximum of 3,000. In pre-Medieval times, Torcello was much a more powerful trading center than Venice. Thanks to the lagoon’s salt marshes, the salines became Torcello’s economic backbone and its harbour developed quickly into an important re-export market in the profitable east-west-trade, which was largely controlled by Byzantium during that period. The lagoon around the island of Torcello gradually became a swamp from the 12th century onwards bringing malaria-carrying mosquitos, and Torcello’s heyday came to an end: navigation in the laguna morta (dead lagoon) was impossible before long and the growing swamps seriously aggravated the malaria situation, so that the population eventually abandoned the island and left for Murano, Burano or Venice.

Sights

Torcello’s numerous palazzi, its twelve parishes and its sixteen cloisters have almost disappeared since the Venetians recycled the useful building material. The only remaining medieval buildings form an ensemble of four edifices. Today’s main attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, founded in 639. It is of basilica-form with side aisles but no crossing, and has much 11th and 12th century Byzantine work, including mosaics (e.g. a vivid version of the Last Judgement). Other attractions include the 11th and 12th century Church of Santa Fosca, in the form of a Greek cross, which is surrounded by a semi-octagonal porticus, and the Museo Provinciale di Torcello housed in two fourteenth century palaces, the Palazzo dell’Archivio and the Palazzo del Consiglio, which was once the seat of the communal government. Another noteworthy sight for tourists is an ancient stone chair, known as Attila’s Throne. It has, however, nothing to do with the king of the Huns, but it was most likely the podestà’s or the bishop’s chair. Torcello is also home to a Devil’s Bridge, known as the Ponte del Diavolo or alternatively the Ponticello del Diavolo (devil’s little bridge).

Region: Veneto
Province: Province of Venice

 

900

Vulcano

Is a small volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, about 25 km (16 mi) north of Sicily and the southernmost of the eight Aeolian Islands. It is 21 km2 (8 sq mi) in area, rises to 499 m (1,637 ft) above sea level, and contains several volcanic centers, including one of four active non-submarine volcanoes in Italy.

History

The Romans used the island mainly for raw materials, harvesting wood and mining alum and sulfur. This was the principal activity on the island until the end of the 19th Century. When the Bourbon rule collapsed in 1860 a British man named James Stevenson bought the northern part of the island, built a villa, reopened the local mines and planted vineyards for grapes that would later be used to make Malmsey wine. Stevenson lived on Vulcano until the last major eruption on the island, in 1888. The eruption lasted the better part of two years, by which time Stevenson had sold all of his property to the local populace, and never returned to the island. The villa is still intact.

Mythology

The Ancient Greeks named the island Therassía. The island appeared in their myths as the private workshop of the Olympian god Hephaestus, protector of the blacksmiths; he owned another two at Etna and Olympus. Strabo also mentions Thermessa as sacred place of Hephaestus but it is not clear if it was a third name for the island, or just an adjective.
Similarly the Romans believed that Vulcano was the chimney of the god Vulcan’s workshop and therefore named the island after him. The island had grown due to his periodic clearing of cinders and ashes from his forge. The earthquakes that either preceded or accompanied the explosions of ash were considered to be due to Vulcan making weapons for Mars and his armies to wage war.

Science

Since Vulcano island has volcanic activity, this island is a place where thermophiles and hyperthermophiles are likely to be found. In fact, the hyperthermophilic archaea Pyrococcus furiosus was described for the first time when it was isolated from sediments of this island by Gerhard Fiala and Karl Stetter.

Comments are closed.