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The Island of Alicudi – Aeolian Islands

Sea from Alicudi Island

The Island of Alicudi in Italy belonging to the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands, in Sicily. Administratively it belongs to Lipari, an Italian municipality in the metropolitan city of Messina. The inhabitants of the island are called arcudari in Sicilian. In ancient times it was known as Ericussa, from the ancient Greek Ἐρικοῦσσα (“rich in heather”).

History of the Island of Alicudi

The island of Alicudi is the westernmost of the Aeolian archipelago and is located about 34 nautical miles (almost 63 km) west of Lipari. It is dominated by Mount Filo dell’Arpa, whose toponym derives from the dialect term harp or harpazza with which the buzzard is indicated.

The plan of the island is almost circular, with an area of about 5 km², with steep and rugged coasts, and constitutes the emerged part, from the 1,500 m depth of the sea floor up to 675 m s.l.m. of the culminating point, of an extinct volcano, which rose around 150,000 years ago and remodeled by successive eruptions and Quaternary phenomena.

Tipical panorama from Aeolian Islands

Beaches in Alicudi

The beaches of the island of Alicudi are pebbly and rocky and the winter storms make them move back or forward, sometimes leaving a few strips of dark sand. The tour of the island is possible, but presents the risk of falling stones, moved by the wind or by wild goats, and requires swimming around some rock formations. Going up the steep mule tracks, currently well maintained in summer by the Legambiente volunteers, you immerse yourself in the Mediterranean scrub composed of heather, caper, broom, olive tree, mastic, carob, Artemisia arborescens, Cyclamen repandum, Narcissus tazetta, Orchis longicornu, Erysimum brulloi, Centaurea aeolica and Cytisus aeolicus, locally called sgùbbiu. In the area of the old crater and on the summit flanks, the cooler environment features ferns, expanses of asphodel (locally cipuddazzu), a few residual chestnut trees, heather and other shrubs.

The fauna of the island of Alicudi

The fauna is very varied and rich; migratory birds such as pelican, purple heron, gray heron and pink flamingo appear in spring and autumn. Among the sedentary species there are the imperial crow, the wild pigeon, the mallard, the greater shearwater and the lesser shearwater, locally called araghiuni. Among the birds of prey the peregrine falcon, the lodolaio, the queen’s falcon and the cuckoo falcon. Among the mammals, the wild rabbit.

Pink Flamingos

Folk about the Island of Alicudi

An old tradition tells of fishermen able to ‘cut’ the waterspouts and storms. The “cut” would take place through a ritual that allowed them to save themselves from the dangers of the sea. Through precise hand movements they would be able to cause the storm to fade as it approaches the boat until it becomes a thread that breaks into two parts, leaving the crew unharmed. The best-known tradition is that of flying women or mahare arcudare, women capable of transforming themselves into crows and cats, of casting the evil eye and of casting spells, but above all they had the power to fly up to reach Palermo, where they went to night. In some cases they flew to Tunisia, taking with them objects never seen on the island.

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