Myths and legends about volcanoes

Greek mythology placed the forge of Hephaestus in the cavern of volcanoes; the strange noises heard in the caverns of the island of Vulcano were interpreted as the rumble of hammers and the crackling of the fire of the god’s forge. In Christian times, people instead thought they were screams and groans coming from the damned in Hell. For Saint Gregory the Great the volcanoes of the Aeolian Islands were the gates to the Underworld, their mouths erupting the fire of torment that God makes visible to men, to frighten them and lead them to follow the path of salvation.
Numerous legends were born around the volcanoes of the Aeolian Islands. One of the most famous is the hermit of Lipari, narrated by Saint Gregory the Great himself.
The man, who lived in solitude, on the same day of Theodoric the Great’s death in 526 AD, allegedly saw the soul of the king of the Ostrogoths, half-naked, barefoot and with his hands tied, thrown into Vulcano’s crater by Pope John and the patrician named Simmachus whom he had killed.
In 741 AD, Charles Martel, who had stopped the Muslim invasion in Poitiers and saved European civilisation, supposedly ended up in Stromboli’s crater.
Saint Peter Damian tells us, in the life of Saint Odilo, the abbot of the monastery of Cluny in Burgundy who lived between 800 and 850 AD, that a religious man from Aquitaine, returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, had to take refuge on Vulcano because of a storm. Here he found an old hermit who heard the groans and moans of souls tormented by devils, who would become angry when a soul was taken from them because of prayers and alms from the living.
The religious man, having returned to France, reported this to Saint Odilo, who then ordered that all the convents of the Benedictine order be dedicated to the commemoration of the departed on the day after All Saints’ Day. And so All Souls’ Day was established on 2 November, and is still universally celebrated today.

Lipari at the centre of Mediterranean history

The Village of Capo Graziano

The Stacks of Panarea

The senses tell Alicudi

Wine, oil and capers, masterpieces of nature and launching pad of the Aeolian economy

The senses tell The Stacks of Panarea

Where do Vulcano’s gases come from?

Pollara, between poetry and beauty

The senses tell the Lipari Castle

Vulcano, the most famous volcano in the world

The Cathedral of Lipari and the Norman Cloister of the Benedictine Monastery

The senses tell The prehistoric village of Cala Junco

Seven islands, dozens of volcanoes

Salina, the green island with twin mountains

At the heart of trade in history

Myths and legends about volcanoes

Panarea, the island of Stacks

Filicudi, a submerged paradise

The prehistoric village of Cala Junco

The polis of the living and the necropolis of the dead

Lipari Castle, “fused” with lava

Alicudi, where time has stood still

The hidden part of the Aeolian Islands

Lipari, where history intertwines with volcanoes to create archaeology

The fumaroles of the port of Vulcano

The senses tell The summit craters

The Gran Cratere of the Fossa

The salt lake of Lingua

The senses tell the port of Vulcano

The pure white of the pumice quarries

The Aeolian Islands, where volcanoes were first studied


The ancient production of salt

Stromboli, the volcano that breathes

Seven islands with different faces

The senses tell The Gran Cratere of the Fossa

The summit craters

The Sciara del Fuoco

Filicudi: small island, big history

The malleability of Vulcano’s mud