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Vulcano (Messina Province) is the island of Vulcano, once called Hiero Thermessa, pop. 717, post-code 98050, tel. 090, is once of the most interesting in the Aeolian archipelago, because of the exceptional nature of its landscapes and the variety of its volcanic phenomena. With an area of about 21.2 sq km, alt. 500 m, it presents a wide plateau in the south part, Monte Lentia in the west, and to the north the little peninsula of Vulcanello, created by an eruption in 183 BC and joined to the rest of the island by a slender isthmus.

On the island there used to be three craters, one of which, as a result of erosion by the sea, presents an interesting cross-section of a volcanic cone, with lava flows and stratifications of pyroplastic material.

The south zone consists of stratovolcanoes (Monte Avia, Monte Lucia and Monte Saraceno) sloping down towards the dip of Vulcano Piano.

At the center of the island is the crater of Vulcano Fossa, characterized by two craters (Fossa I and Fossa II) responsible for the eruptions in historical times, which have mainly been explosive in nature, with lava streams, among which that of Pietre Cotte on the northwest slope dates from the end of the 18th century.

The activity of this volcano has been reported since ancient times: the earliest account is Thucydides (5th century BC); subsequent to this some fifteen explosive eruptions have been recorded; the most recent eruption, with the explosion of material and the ejection of projectiles, known locally as "breadcrust" bobs, occured between 1888 and 1890.

Since then there has been constant activity of the fumaroles with the emission of gas. Off the beach near the faraglioni (isolated rocks in the sea), there is the boiling sea-water phenomenon, caused by underwater fumaroles, jets of gas bubbling up through the sea. The medicinal value of these thermal vaters, together with the mud baths, in the treament of various diseases made the island famous.

The economy of Vulcano depends today largely on tourism. Last century is was based on the minding of minerals: there used to be sulphur refineries and an alum and boric acid factory.

Of memorable interest is a visit to the ancient Grotte dell'allume (alum caves) and to the Grotta dei Rossi, not visible from the sea, as also a boat-trip round the island, with excursions to the Grotta del Cavallo and Vulcano Gelso, where on the beach of the same name there is an old lighthouse.

Links to other sites about Vulcano include:

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My latest book on CD is titled Sicily - A Reference for Researchers and is now available. With a file for each town (plus many other files), it relates the history of Sicily as reflected in the photos, records and festivals of its towns. It contains over 2500 text and photo files and can be ordered at CD order.

Order Italy Kathy Kirkpatrick

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© Kathy Kirkpatrick 1997-2008