Things to do in Lipari

    Are you planning a trip to the Aeolian Islands and wondering what to do in Lipari? This is the guide for you. If you want to combine sea and beaches with culture, Lipari is definitely the island that has the most to offer. Between churches, museums, villas and murals, you will be spoilt for choice. Don’t miss our guide to the beaches of Lipari.

    Things to do in Lipari: the Citadel area of Lipari

    We start this tour of things to do in Lipari from the Cittadella, the highest area of the island where the Greek Acropolis once stood. This area is also called the Castle of Lipari because there was a fortress here of which only the defensive walls remain. In the Cittadella there are some open-air archaeological excavations, the various pavilions of the Aeolian Museum and also an open-air Greek-style theater.

    The Aeolian Archaeological Museum

    Vase in the Greek Roman section of the Aeolian Archaeological Museum
    One of the painted vases in the Aeolian Archaeological Museum

    The itinerary to discover things to see in Lipari can begin at the Aeolian Archaeological Museum. Its vast collection of artifacts is displayed in several buildings and covers a period from prehistory to modern times. The history of human settlement in the Aeolian Islands during the prehistoric period is illustrated in two different buildings. In the Greek and Roman section you can admire an extraordinary collection of red figurative ceramic vases from the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. and the famous “Lipari Masks”. These are a collection of small theatrical terracotta masks found in the more than 2,550 tombs of the Contrada Diana necropolis. The last section is located inside the former prisons of Lipari. Since 2015 it has housed the museum’s permanent exhibition of contemporary art, with installations by artists such as Mimmo Paladino, Igor Mitoraj and Tahar Ben Jelloun.

    The Cathedral of San Bartolomeo

    The Cathedral of San Bartolomeo in Lipari
    The Cathedral of San Bartolomeo

    Also in the Citadel area, another thing to see in Lipari is the Cathedral of San Bartolomeo. It is the oldest and most important church on the island and was first built in the 11th century. Destroyed in 1544 during a raid by the pirate Ariadeno Barbarossa, it was rebuilt by the Spaniards in the 16th century and frescoed in the next. Of the original construction, it is possible to see part of the cloister, one of the three Norman cloisters left in Sicily. Inside the cathedral there are two important urns, each containing a relic of San Bartolomeo. The first is shaped like a forearm, while the second is shaped like a vessel. Both are carried in procession, together with the statue of the saint, through the streets of Lipari on the four annual feasts of San Bartolomeo.

    Other monuments of the Citadel

    Panoramic view of the citadel of Lipari
    Panoramic view of the citadel of Lipari

    Inside the Citadel there are other monuments that deserve to be included among the things to see in Lipari. Entering the area from Piazza Mazzini, through the gates that open onto the ancient walls of the Castle of Lipari, you reach the ticket office of the Museo Eoliano. On the right is the former church of Santa Caterina, built between the 16th and 17th centuries and now used for temporary exhibitions. Continuing along via Castello, we come first to the Church of the Addolorata, built in the 16th century, and then to the imposing Church of the Immaculate Conception. The latter was built in the middle of the 18th century and has valuable frescoes in the apse. It is also sometimes used for exhibitions. Around these three churches there are two archaeological areas with the remains of Bronze Age huts and some parts of a Hellenistic-Roman city. At the end of the road there is a green area where there are some sarcophagi found in the archaeological area of Contrada Diana. In 1976 an open-air theater was built on the model of the Greek theaters. From here you can enjoy an enchanting view of the sea and Marina Corta.

    Things to do in Lipari: the tour of the center

    After visiting the Citadel, the itinerary to discover things to see in Lipari moves to the center of the town. From the port area, Corso Vittorio Emanuele begins, where you can find many clubs, restaurants and shops. If you go all the way down, you will reach Marina Corta, one of the most beautiful corners of the island. But the center of Lipari also hides other surprises, such as an open-air archaeological park, an eighteenth-century villa where you can also dine, and a small square entirely decorated with murals.

    The Marina Corta of Lipari

    Panoramic view of Marina Corta in Lipari
    Panoramic view of Marina Corta in Lipari

    The tour of the city of Lipari starts from one of the most beautiful corners of the island, the Marina Corta. It is a small port located at the foot of the Citadel, from which excursions to Lipari and the other Aeolian Islands depart. In the square there are several restaurants where you can have lunch and dinner, while on the opposite side there is the Church of the Anime del Purgatorio. Built in the second half of the 16th century, it houses a crib that represents the life of the island and its past trades. Also in this area is the Church of San Giuseppe, which has beautiful Baroque decorations and a barrel vault inside.

    Piazza Arti e Mestieri

    Lipari's murals in the Arti e Mestieri Square
    Lipari’s murals in the Arti e Mestieri Square

    From San Giuseppe Church, take Vico Marte, the street to the right of the building. This will take you to one of the most fascinating corners of the island, even though it is often forgotten by travel blogs and paper guides to things to see in Lipari. It is the Piazzetta Arti e Mestieri, where you can see the so-called Lipari murals that decorate the facades of some houses. They were painted in the eighties thanks to the initiative of Professor Caterina Conti, who asked the artists Luciana Livi and Italo Campagnoli to paint them.

    Contrada Diana Archaeological Park

    Tombs in the Contrada Diana Archaeological Park on Lipari.
    Tombs in the Contrada Diana Archaeological Park on Lipari.

    A little to the east of the historical center of Lipari is the Contrada Diana Archaeological Park. It is named after the street where the first artifacts were found, now called Via Guglielmo Marconi. The park was officially founded in 1971, but the archaeological research began in 1948 with the archaeologists Luigi Bernabò Brea and Madeleine Cavalier. Over the years a Greek necropolis, some remains of the city walls and two thermal buildings have been found. 

    Villa Santa Lucia

    Bird of Paradise flower in the garden of Villa Santa Lucia in Lipari
    Bird of Paradise flower in the garden of Villa Santa Lucia in Lipari

    The itinerary of places to visit in the center of Lipari ends with a small jewel that not everyone knows: Villa Santa Lucia. It is an ancient aristocratic residence dating back to the 18th century, where the first Masonic Lodge of Lipari was located. The current owners have decided to open this little gem to the public, which includes a small museum of majolica and a garden with more than 250 different species of plants. If you are looking for a small oasis of peace and tranquility, you can also choose to stay in one of the two studio apartments that have been created on the lower floor. Exhibitions and cultural events are organized inside Villa Santa Lucia, and three evenings a week there is also the possibility of dining according to the formula of the house restaurant.

    Things to do in Lipari: the kaolin quarries

    Walk through the kaolin quarries of Lipari
    Kaolin quarries

    If you love trekking and nature, then among the things to see in Lipari you cannot miss a visit to the kaolin quarries. These are ancient quarries that were already used in the period between the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. for the extraction of this particular material, which was mainly used for the production of ceramic objects. In the 90’s an intensive period of mining began in Lipari, which lasted until 1969, when it was finally stopped. In 2016 the Tenute di Castellaro acquired the kaolin quarries, restored them and opened them to the public. Access to the quarries is free, but if you are interested in a guided tour, you can arrange it directly with Tenute Castellaro. It is also possible to buy a basket with everything you need for a romantic aperitif at sunset.

    Things to do in Lipari: Viewing points

    In the guide of the things to see in Lipari, the belvederes could not be missing. There are several scattered all over the island and, depending on their position, you will be able to see almost all the other islands of the Aeolian archipelago. If you want to enjoy a breathtaking view, perhaps with the lights of the sunset, or if you want to take home some landscape photos to frame, here are the places to go.

    Belvedere Quattrocchi

    Panorama visible from the Belvedere Quattrocchi in Lipari
    Panorama visible from the Belvedere Quattrocchi in Lipari

    Belvedere Quattrocchi is one of the most famous belvederes of Lipari. It is so called because it takes four eyes to fully appreciate the 360 degree view. This belvedere can be reached either on foot or by bus. The best and most comfortable choice would be the moped, because there is very little space to stop. From this point you can see the beach of Valle Muria, the town of Lipari, the chimneys of Pietra Lunga and Pietra Menalda and the island of Vulcano. On a clear day it is also possible to see Mount Etna.

    The Chiesa Vecchia of Quattropani

    The Chiesa Vecchia of Quattropani
    The Chiesa Vecchia of Quattropani

    In the hamlet of Quattropani, in the northern part of the island, there is another scenic spot not to be missed. It is located in the place where the Sanctuary of Maria Santissima della Catena is located, also known as Chiesa Vecchia (Old Church). The building dates back to 1588 and is characterized by its architectural simplicity and the white color of its façade. Inside there is an 18th century oil painting on canvas and a wooden statue of the Madonna della Catena from the same period. From the clearing in front of the church there is a privileged view of Salina and the other Aeolian Islands. This viewpoint can also be reached on foot or by public transport.

    Geophysical Observatory of Lipari

    Panorama visible from the Lipari Observatory
    Panorama visible from the Lipari Observatory

    In the southern part of Lipari, in Via Contrada San Salvatore, there is another viewpoint not to be missed. Here, since 1967, is the Geophysical Observatory of Lipari, one of the headquarters of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV). Its position makes it one of the most panoramic points of Lipari. In fact, from here there is a 360 degree view of five of the seven Aeolian Islands.

    Belvedere of Forgia Vecchia

    Another very beautiful panoramic view can be found in the hamlet of Pirrera. Here is the Belvedere di Forgia Vecchia, built in 1999, taking the architectural forms of the typical Aeolian loggias. The belvedere is located at the end of a paved path that connects Pirrera to the old crater of Lipari, called Forgia Vecchia. From here you can admire the Canneto beach, Monte Rosa and the islands of Vulcano, Stromboli, Panarea and Salina.

    Sergio Campolo

    I graduated in Economics and Management in Rome, I worked for 6 years in Milan especially in Web Marketing and now I live in Trento. In 2021 I founded The World of Sicily with the aim of making the beauties of this region known to the whole world.

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