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The Island of Panarea – Aeolian Islands

the island of Panarea

The Island of Panarea is an Italian island belonging to the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands, in Sicily. Administratively it belongs to Lipari, an Italian municipality of the metropolitan city of Messina, of which it constitutes a fraction of 241 inhabitants, divided into the centers of San Pietro (the main landing place), Ditella and Drauto. It is the smallest and least elevated island of the Aeolian archipelago, as well as the oldest, and with the islets of Basiluzzo, Spinazzola, Lisca Bianca, Dattilo, Bottaro, Lisca Nera and the rocks of Panarelli and Formiche, it forms a micro-archipelago between Lipari and the island of Stromboli placed on a single submarine base.

Geography of the Island of Panarea

Geology of the Island of Panarea

From a geological point of view Panarea is the oldest island of the Aeolian Islands, with the surrounding islets it is what remains of the eruptive phenomena of a single volcanic basin, now almost completely submerged and eroded by the sea and the wind. Divided lengthwise by a high ridge, only the eastern and southern part of the original island remains, with relatively limited coasts in height, characterized by small beaches and vast flat areas, formerly cultivated with vineyards and olive groves and of which still today you can see the terraces that were used for crops, now abandoned.

Fumaroles and vapors from the Island of Panarea

On the north-east side of the island, on the Calcara beach it is still possible to see fumaroles of vapors that rise from the cracks between the rocks (with suggestive sulphurous colors), the last traces of volcanic activity with temperatures up to 100 ° C. In some points among the pebbles by the sea, due to these heat sources, the water boils until it burns. Other underwater eruptive phenomena are evident in the bubbling of the waters between the islet of Bottaro and Lisca Bianca. On the other hand, the thermal springs indicated on the map just north of Punta Peppe Maria are no longer identifiable. The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology believes that volcanic activity may not have completely ceased, and considers the volcano as dormant.

Glimpes of Panarea coast

The Island of Panarea Natural Reserve – Scogli Vincitori

The oriented / integral nature reserve of Panarea Island and neighboring rocks is a protected natural area located in the municipality of Lipari, in the metropolitan city of Messina and was established in 1997.
Panaraea is an Oriented Nature Reserve, entrusted to the management of the State Forests of the Sicily Region and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Beautiful and can only be visited on foot – cars and motorcycles cannot land there – it has a remarkable natural heritage. Widely cultivated until the first half of the twentieth century, since the sixties of the last century its terraces and its paths have been invaded by spontaneous vegetation. But since 2011 the old streets, thanks to the “Panarea Project” put in place by the “FAI Giovani” of Turin, are regularly cleaned up and made accessible to hikers. Every year in spring, boys from the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) from all over Italy work hard to restore these ancient paths, making it possible to travel around the island and admire the exuberant Mediterranean scrub dominated by heather (Erica arborea), mastic ( Pistacia lentiscus), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), myrtle (Myrtus communis), Montpellier rock rose (Cistus monspeliensis), pink rock rose (Cistus creticus subsp. Eriocephalus), sweet broom (Spartium junceum), spiny broom (Calicotome villosa). All plants present, among olive trees (Olea europaea) abandoned for decades, even in the FAI property, a plot of land of about one hectare which is located not far from the promontory of Punta Milazzese: a beautiful place, from which you can enjoy a splendid view on the islands of Lipari, Salina and Vulcano. From the FAI property, a few minutes’ walk is enough to reach Capo Milazzese, one of the most beautiful spots in Panarea. Here, on an esplanade overlooking the sea, where the remains of a prehistoric village of the Middle Bronze Age (XIV-XIII century BC) are clearly visible, the vegetation remains low due to the wind and salt; and the air is perfumed by the spicy fragrance, somewhat similar to that of curry, of the perpetual of the cliffs (Helicrysum litoreum). If you are lucky, looking up at the sky, you may happen to see the Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae) flying, a bird of prey that returns to the island every year after a long migration from Madagascar.

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