Stories of the sea and shipwrecks. The wrecks of the Aeolian Islands

Thanks to their geographical position, the Aeolian Islands have had a remarkable role since prehistoric times in the trade routes of the Mediterranean from East to West, through the Strait of Messina, and the Tyrrhenian Sea area.
The ships that frequented these seas in ancient times connected the Italian peninsula and the Greek world to Sicily, Spain and Africa. Loaded with pottery and amphorae, they transported wine, oil and grain. The Aeolian islands were favourable stopping points, often to stockpile and exchange local resources, such as sulphur and alum from Vulcano, pumice from Lipari and garum from Salina.
The seabed of the Aeolian Islands is an underwater graveyard for ships. Most of the Aeolian wrecks, around twenty of which have been identified, belonged to ships that did not have the Aeolian Islands as a stopover or destination.
These ships would have been surprised to chance upon the islands, and in an attempt to seek shelter, would have broken against the rocks just surfacing in the shallows of Capo Graziano in Filicudi, Capistello and Bagno in Lipari, and the Formiche group of rocks in Panarea. The wrecks cover a very long period from the beginning of the Bronze Age, i.e. from 2000 BC to the 17th century AD.
In the Museum’s underwater archaeology section it is possible to admire the amphorae and pottery produced in Campania, taken from the wreck of the Capistello shallows in Lipari from the 4th century BC, found at great depths of 60 to 90 metres, even up to 120 metres.
Some of the amphorae still had cork stoppers and bore stamps with Greek names.
Among the wrecks discovered in the Aeolian Islands, 2nd-century BC wreck A in Filicudi had the greatest quantity of material; it is where the wine amphorae were found, placed in the centre of the Museum hall almost as if to suggest their original location inside the ship’s hold.
The amphorae, pottery and louterion related to wreck F, from the first half of the 3rd century BC, also come from the Capo Graziano shallows in Filicudi.
Another important wreck, named Relitto Alberti after the person who discovered it, was found in Panarea not far from the Formiche rocks.
The ship’s cargo was scattered at a depth of around 50 metres and contained around 150 amphorae from the middle of the 1st century AD. From Vulcano, on the seabed of Punta Luccia near the east coast, comes the cargo of 25 amphorae and the stump of a lead anchor from a late-republican ship from the 1st century BC. The cargo of the Punta Crapazza wreck, from the 4th-5th century AD, also comes from Vulcano. The ship was carrying a unique cargo consisting of tin ingots from Spain, clods of arsenic sulphide (realgar) used as dye, and peanuts.

Seven islands, dozens of volcanoes

The pure white of the pumice quarries

The senses tell The Sciara del Fuoco

Panarea and its history

Alicudi, where time has stood still

The prehistoric village of Cala Junco

The senses tell The summit craters

Where do Vulcano’s gases come from?

The malleability of Vulcano’s mud

The underwater morphological elements of the Aeolian Islands

The ancient production of salt

Between brush strokes of sulphur and clouds of steam: the fumaroles of the port of Vulcano

The stacks of Panarea

The polis of the living and the necropolis of the dead

Myths and legends about volcanoes

Lipari at the centre of Mediterranean history

Filicudi, a submerged paradise

At the heart of trade in history

The Gran Cratere of the Fossa: when the volcano becomes a sculptor

Lipari Castle, “fused” with the lava

The Aeolian Islands, where volcanology was born

Salina, the green island with twin mountains

The 2002-03 eruption

The salt lake of Lingua

The underwater fumarolic activity of Lisca Bianca

The hidden part of the Aeolian Islands

Tsunamis: a not uncommon phenomenon in Stromboli

Filicudi: small island, big history

The Thermal Baths of Saint Calogerus

“Strombolian” activity in the place where its definition was born

Vulcano, the youngest of the Aeolian works of art

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

The senses tell The Village of Capo Graziano

The summit craters

The senses tell The salt lake of Lingua

“Vulcanian” eruptions

Volcanoes as a natural art form

How pumice is formed

Panarea, where sea and volcanoes become sculptors

The senses tell The Stacks of Panarea

The Sciara del Fuoco

Stromboli, the volcano that breathes

Pollara, between poetry and beauty

Lipari, where history intertwines with volcanoes to create archaeology

Stories of the sea and shipwrecks. The wrecks of the Aeolian Islands

The Village of Capo Graziano

The senses tell The Pumice Quarries of Lipari

Malvasia delle Lipari DOC