Post-summer, Lipari is definitely off tourists’ radar.
An island in the cobalt blue and teal colored Mediterranean and also the name of the city, Lipari is located off the northern coast of Sicily. First settled in 580 B.C.E. by the Greeks, Lipari survived a tumultuous upbringing.
Conquered by Arabs and plundered by Saracen pirates in the 9th century, life in Lipari calmed down when in 1090 the Normans overthrew the Arabs. France and Spain also had their hands in the mix. Finally by the mid-1800s, piracy in the Mediterranean had drawn to a close and a safer life in the Aeolian Islands began to reemerge. Eventually Italy laid claim to this 11-island archipelago.
My day in Lipari bore no reminder to the terror of its early days. Now, the sleepy island Lipari has become a major tourist destination during the summer months with nearly double the 11,000+ population as tourists.
When the Royal Clipper docked offshore in mid-October and we went ashore, the tourists were gone and many of the small shops had already closed for the season. Cafes that might have been closed reopened for one last hurrah of tourists.
Map in hand, I had the most wonderful day simply walking through this ancient city, up and down centuries-old cobblestone streets and alleys. Shops no wider than as far as I could extend my arms lined the narrow road from the horseshoe-shaped waterfront.
While there was a guided tour around the island, I wanted to enjoy the quiet and calm. Here are some of the highlights from my leisurely walk, much of which was uphill.
You can also visit the Lipari Museum near the castle, that houses an extensive collection of artifacts dating from prehistoric times. Included are exhibits depicting Aeolian culture that begins with the ancient Phoenicians and Greeks through Carthaginian, Roman Byzantine, Norman and Spanish rule.
Notice all of the shop doors were shut tight. Once tourist season is finished, many of the store owners leave and go to Sicily for the remainder of the year.
A couple of cafés, clothing stores and a pharmacy were about all that were open for tourists. Along the waterfront and beach, a few more cafés accommodated late season tourists.
Considering that the Greeks colonized Lipari about 2500 years ago and that there are still performances held at this site is remarkable.
Back on the Royal Clipper, our captain gave us a ride through the Aeolian Islands that make up this archipelago. The island of Volcano has about 500 permanent residents that live, as you can see, under the volcano.
As the Royal Clipper anchored offshore, we anxiously awaited what we hoped would be a view of Stromboli erupting. Stromboli volcano is in a state of constant eruption with three active craters at its peak. Most nights there’s a spectacular display when Stromboli spews fire like a dragon.
Not very many ships call on Lipari. The massive influx of wealthy tourists during the summer months are mainly Italians plus Greeks and Russians. Hydrofoils and ferry boats connect all of the islands to Sicily.
Cruise lines that include a visit to Lipari are Holland America, Ponant, Star Clippers, Windstar and Silversea.
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