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© Jeff Matthews
entry Aug 2015
Islands of Sicily
I was undecided—towing fees would be enormous. "Middle of the Pacific Ocean, please, and step on it." What else have they got? Ah...
There were some
in the Caribbean, Maine, and, lo and behold,
Italy—those were listed, strangely, as the Island of
Italian constitution specifies that “Sicily, with
the Aeolian islands, the Aegadian islands, the
Pelagie Islands, Ustica and Pantelleria, constitutes
an autonomous region.” (Sicily, of course, is
the Big Island, but for the rest of this discussion, I
am not counting it as an island. It's the mainland.
This is about the islands around Sicily.) The
above-mentioned islands and archipelagoes are part of
the Italian region of Sicily. There are big and small
islands, all in all over 100. None of the small ones
are inhabited; 18 of the larger ones are. Taken
together, the islands around Sicily make up a bit more
than 1% of the total land area of the region of
Sicily. That is, about 285 km² out of 26,000 km² for
all of the region of Sicily. About 33,00 persons live
on the islands around the Big Island of Sicily.
(named for the Greek god of the wind) - Group of seven
main islands: Lipari (the largest; thus, the Aeolians
may also be called the Lipari islands), Vulcano,
Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi and Panarea.
Strombol (pictured)i and Vulcano are both active
volcanoes and erupt frequently. Scientifically,
the archipelago is part of a "volcanic arc" that
includes the nearby island of Ustica (mentioned below)
and a series of submerged volcanoes to the north named
Magnani, Vavilov, Marsili and Palinuro, as well as two
that are unnamed. The Aeolian islands are on the
UNESCO World Heritage List because of their scientific
importance (from the UNESCO description):
The Aeolian Islands provide an outstanding record of volcanic island-building and destruction, and ongoing volcanic phenomena. Studied since at least the 18th century, the islands have provided the science of vulcanology with examples of two types of eruption (Vulcanian and Strombolian) and thus have featured prominently in the education of geologists for more than 200 years. The site continues to enrich the field of vulcanology.
together have a total stable population of about
14,000 persons, but, as an increasingly popular summer
vacation destination, are swarmed with at least
200,000 visitors during that period.
the Pelagies - The Pelagie Islands are the three small islands of Lampedusa, Linosa, and Lampione, located in the Mediterranean Sea between Malta and Tunisia, south of Sicily. To the northwest lies the island of Pantelleria and the Strait of Sicily. Geographically, Lampedusa and Lampione belong to the African continent. The islands have been largely deforested and are relatively barren even of what used to be native olive groves. The stable population is about 4500. Although the island is a potential vacation spot for tourism, the recent geopolitical situation in North Africa has made it less and less desirable since the island is a main goal for refugees from that continent, most of them embarking in Libya. The Libya-Lampedusa refugee smuggling route is notoriously perilous, even deadly. The refugee population of the island threatens to overwhelm facilities to handle them. The island is the site of a marine protected area, instituted in 2002, concerned with preserving the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. (pictured: northeastern cliffs of Lampedusa)
the islands of the Stagnone - These are four islands (termed a 'microarchipelago') of San Pantaleo (Mozia), Isola Grande, Schola, and Santa Maria that make up the perimeter of and small islands within the Stagnone lagoon, off the coast of Marsala in the west, the largest lagoon in Sicily. San Pantaleo (Mozio) was an ancient Phoenecian colony, and the whole lagoon is today a protected regional nature preserve.
the Cyclopean Isles - another microarchipelago, these isles (pictured) are located in the shadow of Mt. Etna in the east. The Cyclopean isles are thought to have been at one time joined to the mainland. The isles consist of Lachea, the large faraglione (rock), the small faraglione, and four other prominent rocks arrayed in the form of an arc. The name reveals the role they play in Homer's Odyssey. Indeed, these isles were the abode of the one-eyed monsters called the Cyclopes. The rocks in the water are said to be the missiles hurled by the blinded cyclops Polifemus at the fleeing Ulysses:
Ustica - The single island of Ustica is 67 km/41 miles NW of the city of Palermo on Sicily. It is about 3.5 km long and 2.5 km wide and has a stable population of about 1300. It is not part of the relatively nearby Aeolian group. It is isolated and surrounded by relatively deep water, which makes is attractive for scuba diving, the main tourist draw. It shows evidence of stone-age inhabitants and may have been settled permanently from the Aeolians. It has been more or less constantly inhabited in historic times: Phonecians, Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans; as well, there was a Benedictine monastery built on the island in the 6th century AD. It was the site of battles between Christian and Muslims and the victim of numerous Saracen raids. It was fortified by the Kingdom of Naples in 1759 and in more recent times served as an island of exile for political prisoners under Mussolini in the 1920s and '30s. In spite of the scarcity of water, there is an ongoing attempt to develop tourism.Ripping off the peak of a towering crag, he heaved it
Pantelleria - is a single island in the Strait of Sicily, 100 km/62 mi southwest of Sicily and 60 km (37 mi) east of the Tunisian coast, which can seen in the distance. The island is part of the Sicilian province of Trapani. It has an area of 83 km2 (32 mi2) and is the largest volcanic satellite island of Sicily. The island is the summit of a largely underwater volcanic complex that last erupted in 1891 below sea level. The stable resident population is about 7700. The island is of enormous anthropological interest because of the presence of unearthed dwellings and artifacts dated at 35,000 years old. As well, there are ancient tombs similar to the Nuraghe of Sicily. In historic times, the island was in hands of the Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and then Norman Italy. Pantelleria was also crucial in WWII to the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943 since planes could be based within striking distance of Sicily. Pantelleria has an airport and is a popular tourist destination, holding as it does a large nature preserve, a natural lake (pictured), hot springs, and many items of archaeological and geological interest.
credits: top - "Isola di Sicilia": Hanhil based on
NordNordWest derivative work: Yiyi -license CC
BY-SA 3.0 at Wikimedia Commons;