Human presence in the archipelago dates back to very ancient times (5500-4000 years ago). Its large quantities of
meant that the Aeolian Islands were the centre of trade in the Mediterranean Sea.
From around 5500 thousand years ago, villages were created on all the islands except Vulcano. Between 3600 and 3400 years ago, the Aeolian Islands increased in importance because they were on the metal trade route. During the First Punic War the islands saw clashes between Rome and Carthage and Lipari was conquered by Rome in 252.
Around 1000 years ago the archipelago was attacked and devastated by the Arab army, which dominated Sicily at that time. 900 years ago Lipari was conquered by the Normans, who built a Benedictine abbey there, and with Roger II, it became a bishop’s seat. In 1544, when Spain declared war on France, the French King Francis I asked the Ottoman Sultan for help. He sent a fleet that attacked the Aeolian Islands, killing and deporting many of its inhabitants.
During the following centuries the archipelago was once again populated by Spanish, Sicilian and Italian communities. At the beginning of 1800 the Aeolian Islands were rediscovered for their DOC raisin wine, malvasia , thanks to trade of which the local economy flourished for around a century. In Bourbon times the island of Vulcano was used as a penal colony for the forced extraction of alum and sulphur .