It is said that the city of Lipari was built before the Trojan War by Liparo.
Starting from the Neolithic age up to the 3rd millennium BC, the population of the island can be defined as varied and multi-ethnic, since it had been populated by groups from Sicily, Greece, Campania and neighbouring areas.
The first human settlements in the Aeolian Islands date back to the 5th millennium BC, when populations from Sicily were attracted by the large quantities of obsidian .
The peak of trade can be traced back to the Upper Neolithic, when Lipari became one of the most populous settlements in the Mediterranean.
The economic awakening and commercial trade activities certainly favoured contact with new peoples; in fact there were regular relations with Mycenaean Greece. It was from here that the islands got their name “Aeolian Islands”, from the Greek-Mycenaean populations of Aeolian lineage, from the legends about the mythical King Aeolus , keeper of the winds, mentioned in Homer’s magnum opus, the Odyssey.
In conjunction with the fiftieth Olympics, at the end of the 6th century BC, the Aeolian Islands were colonised by Greeks of Doric descent, following a serious defeat at Marsala by the Elymians. These peoples that landed in the Aeolian Islands, in an attempt to defend themselves from the offensives of Phoenician and Etruscan pirates, formed a powerful fleet capable of defeating and plundering their enemies.
In the early 4th century BC, Lipari was occupied by the Carthaginians, who made the island one of their best naval stations, thanks to its excellent ports and strategic position. At the outbreak of the First Punic War in 264 BC, Lipari allied itself with the Carthaginians and suffered repeated attacks from the Roman fleet.
During the civil war, Lipari was conquered between 37 and 36 BC by Octavius against Sextus Pompey, and the partisans of Pompey were exiled to Campania. The island began to flourish again and entered the orbit of Syracuse then Rome, which also developed Lipari as a spa resort.
After the Roman period, Lipari was probably a bishop’s seat and a destination for hermits seeking refuge under Byzantine rule. Alongside the enormous inconvenience caused by the eruptions, Lipari had to face the Arab invasions that, in 839 BC, razed the island to the ground, forcing the population into an existence of slavery.
After the long and dark period of Arab and Byzantine rule, Lipari again experienced a golden period thanks to the Norman rule that repopulated the island and fortified the Castle. Under the banners of Roger I, the Great Count, Lipari was returned to the Christian faith with the foundation, in 1083, of a Benedictine monastery dedicated to St. Bartholomew, which is still in excellent condition today.
In 1091, by decree of Pope Urban II, the islands became a fief of the monastery. The much desired and sought-after tranquillity came to an end in 1544 when the pirate Barbarossa, allied with the French, with a fleet of 150 ships struck a blow by burning houses and the cathedral and forcing the entire population into slavery which, at the time, was around 8000 people.
The great dismay of Charles V, sovereign of Naples, led him to build a more imposing wall, and encouraged repopulation through tax exemptions. Despite the commitment of the sovereign of Naples, the concern of the inhabitants for the numerous raids lasted until the disappearance of Turkish piracy around 1700.