The island of Salina
Inside the Aeolian archipelago is the island of Salina, made up of six ancient volcanoes and particularly fertile soil. A sort of small oasis, endowed with great charm and therefore deserves to be told.
Origins of the town
The name of the island derives from a small lake in the village of Lingua in the municipality of S. Marina di Salina, from which salt was extracted. The first settlements on the island date back to the Bronze Age, followed by
an alternation between phases of complete abandonment and others of strong development. An important settlement, for example, took place in the 4th century BC, while in the 7th century AD. Salina was one of the most populated Aeolian islands due to the activity of the Lipari volcanoes. The Arab invasions made it deserted until, around the seventeenth century, it became populated again.
In 1544, with the arrival in the archipelago of Abbot Gerolamo Maurando, a thriving business was discovered
economic which had probably already begun in the Middle Ages. Despite this, there is no certainty that there were real organized communities due to the constant threats of pirates since the Byzantine era.
The island is repopulated only at the end of 1500, thanks to the concessions of the Bishop of Lipari, and reaches its peak in the mid-nineteenth century. For 300 years families from all over the lower Tyrrhenian find themselves living together, attracted by work and the illusion of small ownership. The consequent economic dependence on the major island of Lipari, due to the lack of common traditions in the new community, only ended at the beginning of the 19th century. This occurs due to a sudden demand for Malvasia (a sweet wine typical of the Aeolian Islands) which allows the inhabitants of Salina to finally establish themselves in the means of exchange. For ten years, in fact, the commissioners for supplies of the British army, which arrived in Messina to face the possible advance of Napoleon in Sicily, requested the well-known “Aeolian passito” on the tables of their officers. Such a lasting demand allows the island to free itself from the Lipari economy, as well as from its administrative power. However, this flourishing phase of Salina’s history ends in the spring of 1889. It happens that the phylloxera invades the vineyards of the whole of Europe and puts an end to prosperity. Then begins a process of emigration and in fifteen years the population of Salina is halved. However, the island continues to “live” through tourism.
What to see
Considering the great tradition of salina from this point of view, it is interesting to visit its Wine Museum. Inside, the traditional technique for making wine is shown, as well as all the objects used for processing grapes. In addition, in the archaeological section, materials used in ancient times to process grapes and transform them into wine are also exhibited. It is also interesting to visit Lingua, at the southeastern tip of the island of Salina. A small strip of land separates the brackish lake from the sea. This was formerly used to extract salt from the sea, while today it is a stopping point for some species of migratory birds. Here there is also the Faro di Lingua, from which you can see the nearby island of Lipari on the horizon, as well as the more distant Panarea and Stromboli.
What to do
During a stay in Salina, it is advisable to take a tour of Malfa. It is a pretty village located on the north coast of Salina. Its name probably derives from the first settlements of Amalfi, which arrived on the island in the 12th century. The houses are certainly interesting, with their characteristic white color and which rise along a steep cliff. For history buffs, the Saracens Caves are not to be missed. They are located along a slope that leads from the town of Serro dell’Acqua towards Santa Marina Salina. These are ancient rock settlements, dating back to the Byzantine and medieval ages, which served as a refuge for the ancient inhabitants of the island.
In particular, being natural caves, they were ideal for sheltering from pirate attacks.
What and where to eat
The main product of Salina is obviously the sweet wine called Malvasia. Capers are also famous in the area, exported all over the world. To taste excellent dishes of the Aeolian and Sicilian tradition, the following restaurants are recommended: Da Alfredo, Capofaro, Da Silvio and Mercanti di mare.
There are numerous beaches in Salina that deserve to be seen. In Malfa there is one of pebbles, like most of those in the Aeolian Islands. Similar is the beach of Punta Sicario, reachable by a path
dirt road and well equipped with umbrellas. The Rinella Beach is more particular: crescent-shaped and made up of black sand, which contrasts with the crystalline water of the sea that bathes it.
How to come
The fastest way to reach Salina is by ferry, from the port of Milazzo or from Reggio Calabria. From Milazzo there are also companies that allow you to get to Salina also by hydrofoil or by ship. As for the ferry, finally, there is the possibility of reaching the island also from the ports of Naples and Palermo.