The ancient Hierà (holy), once home to the God of wind Eolo, is the most southern of the Aeolian archipelago’s islands,and is the closest to Sicily (12 miles from Cape Milazzo). It is separated from Lipari by a channel approximately 1.6 km wide. Its surface is 21 km square. From a geological point of view, the island is composed of 4 volcanoes: Lentia, Vulcano Piano, Fossa di Vulcano, and Vulcanello. The only one still to be considered active is the Vulcano della Fossa, which has remained at the fumarole stage.
The island’s volcanic activity was already known in ancient times by the Greeks and Romans who were very impressed by it. Vulcano’s eruptions were characterised by pyroclastic materials. The eruptions were interrupted by inactive periods,during which a fairly consistent period of fumarole activity continued.
During the 1739 eruption there was an emission of obsidianic fall called “pietre cotte”, that can be observed on the north western side of the Fossa. The last violent eruption of the last century lasted from August 1888 to March 1890, giving name to the activity defined volcanic, characterised by the explosion of the layer obstructing the duct and by the shower of “bread crust” bombs. Since then, Vulcano has remained in the fumarole stage only in the Fossa cone and its crater. Volcanologists and geologists still consider Vulcano an excellent laboratory for their research. Other volcanic activities are in the Porto Levante area: these are hot muds and underwater fumaroles used to cure rheumatic ailments. Vulcano has 470 inhabitants, named Vulcanari.