Stromboli is an Italian volcanic island of the Aeolian archipelago, in Sicily, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, with an area of 12.2 km².
The term is of Greek origin Στρογγύλη (Strabone), and from the Latin Strongylē (Pliny), with secondary juxtaposition to στρόμβος strómbos. The epithet of origin from the Greek is στρογγυλός strongylós ‘round’.
Geographical Features –
The island of Stromboli belongs to the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands, in the north eastern part compared to Sicily and in a more northern position than the other islands. The geological origins of the island of Stromboli date back to about 200,000 years ago, when a first large active volcano emerged from the sea, in a NE position with respect to the island.
Among other things, Stromboli gives its name to a type of volcano characterized by an effusive volcanic activity called Strombolian.
Today only the solidified conduit (neck) represented by the Strombolicchio islet remains of the ancient volcano. Today this last islet houses a lighthouse of the Navy, uninhabited and automated.
Historical Notes –
Stromboli is an island that was already known and inhabited since ancient times. The prehistoric village of San Vincenzo is indeed known. The island of Stromboli has always based its economy on typically Mediterranean agricultural productions: olive trees, vines (low cultivated Malvasia in terraced gardens), figs but also on fishing and seafaring.
The volcano is called by its inhabitants (strombolani) Struògnoli, or even Iddu (He in Sicilian), in reference to the divine nature that was once attributed to uncontrollable natural phenomena.
The economy of this island ensured a thriving civilization until the nineteenth century, so much so that in 1891 (according to ISTAT) there were about 2,700 inhabitants.
Gradually this situation started to worsen especially after the unification of Italy, also due to the succession of eruptions and earthquakes (in particular the 1930 eruption). To this he gave a blow the advent of the downy mildew that in the thirties exterminated the vine, which forced many farmers of Stromboli to emigrate to other countries including, above all Australia and America; was the period in which the island seriously risked being left abandoned and deserted.
Roberto Rossellini put a certain remedy to this state of abandonment, also in political terms, after the war, which, with the 1949 film Stromboli, land of God (with Ingrid Bergman), brought the island and its extraordinariness to the attention of the public.
Stromboli, together with the Aeolian Islands, thanks to their volcanic origin, represents an extraordinary scenario of ecological, landscape and naturalistic diversity where even the human settlement, dating back to the 5th millennium BC, has greatly influenced the structure of the territory.
The vascular flora, typical of the central Mediterranean regions, has about 900 species, while scientific information on non-vascular flora (such as fungi, algae and lichens) are more deficient. In the Aeolian territory it is not difficult to find exotic species such as eucalyptus, acacia and alnus; instead, the presence of Pinus is due to the more or less recent result of reforestation. The floristic population is composed of plants widespread in the Mediterranean area with a prevalence of herbaceous plants that constitute about 80%; the remaining 20% is composed of woody plants. The flora and fauna heritage is due to colonization processes in which man has certainly played a predominant role with the introduction, active or passive, of numerous species. From a biogeographical and ecological point of view, endemic species such as the podarcis raffonei and the elyomis quercinus liparensis, which are found in very limited areas, are of considerable interest. The native woods, intact from human manipulation, can be admired in all their beauty in Stromboli in the town of Fico Grande, in Vulcano in the area of Gelso, in Lipari in the Pirrera area and, moreover, in areas that are difficult to access for man. This factor has allowed the ecosystem to remain intact in its natural aspect, since it was difficult for man to have access to these areas. These woods are mainly composed of holm oak, heather, honeysuckle, manna ash and arbutus. The impoverishment of the forest heritage has led to the substitution of the arboreal plants with the Mediterranean maquis, shrub vegetation which, to date, covers most of the Aeolian territory. The Mediterranean scrub is made up of fragrant broom (Spartium junceum), cysts (cistus monspeliensis – creticus – salvifolius) and endemic broom (Genista tyrrehena) which can be found in their most luxuriant form at a height of 350 m, thanks to the high nighttime humidity even in summer. Bougainvillea, prickly pears, dwarf palmettes that spontaneously decorate the landscape with their colors and shapes are easily identifiable throughout the Aeolian territory. One of the crops that has distinguished itself over the centuries and which, to date, represents a large production reality, is that of the caper. The latter is exported in special amphorae since Roman times. Bumping into caper plants is really simple because they are easily found throughout the territory, they are perched on the embankments and rocks. The caper, besides being one of the pivots of the local cuisine, is a great source of income along with the Malvasia. Both of these products are exported all over the world. Among the aromatic shrubs, which deserve particular attention also for the culinary use that is made of them, we find rosemary, thyme, heliotropy and lentisk. The fruit trees, which deserve particular attention for their diffusion, are the fig, the almond, the plum, the carob and the prickly pear.
From the faunistic point of view, greater interest is attributed to the endemic species due to their biological and conservation characteristics, which is why they become the reason for studying speciation processes. These species are exclusively limited to the Aeolian territory. The number of endemic species is very small, just think of the focal species podarcis raffonei and aple its subspecies of gliride, still detectable in some woodlands of Lipari. In the Aeolian territory there is a large number of invertebrate species. Among the insects there are five species of beetles, one of moth, one of homoptera, two of disderidi spiders, three of Collembola and five of pulmonate molluscs. Among the insects, the Sphinx is of notable interest, an extremely widespread butterfly with ash-brown wings and a sturdy streaked red and black body that reaches the dimensions of 10 cm. Normally, island faunas are poorer in species due to the ecosystem circumscribed by the sea.
This factor significantly determines the biogeography and ecology that makes these environments unique in their kind. Populations of species spread throughout the Mediterranean area, such as Tarentola mauritanica, Rattus Rattus, Coluber viridiflavus, Bufo viridis, Mus domesticu, Podarcis sicula and Hemidactylus turcicus, are of considerable interest because the natural barrier, which results in a genetic barrier, makes these species are unique in their kind. A practical example is given by the study of some Aeolian mammals such as the rat and the dormouse which show how they are larger than the same Sicilian species. A very interesting aspect, for birdwatching enthusiasts, is the passage in the spring and autumn periods of migratory birds such as wild geese, quails, cigeri, cormorants, flamingos, pelicans, ducks, red herons and cranes. Among the resident birds, Berta Maggiore and Minore, the Mediterranean Falco, the Falcone della Regina, the Lodolaio, the Poiana, the Falco Cuculo, the Gabbiano Reale, the Maltese Sparrow, the Cardemillino, the Corvo Imperiale are of great interest.
The only amphibian present is Bufo viridis, a species capable of tolerating prolonged periods of drought. It is not difficult to come across, during the naturalistic excursions in the hinterland in the Biacco, in the “sierpi niura”, so nicknamed for the dark color of the adult individuals. It is a harmless animal to humans but useful, given its diet based primarily on small vertebrates, including mice. Of little relevance are the farms that fail to meet local needs. Among those present, sheep, goat and cattle are of some importance. Another species that is widespread throughout the Aeolian territory is the wild rabbit which, in recent decades, has experienced a large drop in attendance due to the reckless hunting that took place especially in the 80s. Today, fortunately, a protected nature reserve has been created which it occupies most of the territory and totally prohibits hunting practices.
A separate chapter deserves the lizard of the Aeolian Islands, now present in very small numbers in fragmented areas of the island of Vulcano, in some rocks of Strombolicchio, in the barrel of Filicudi and in the stack of Salina. The species, which once inhabited the entire archipelago, is present only in these areas due to the introduction of the rural lizard (podarcis sicula) by humans around 7000 BC The two species differ in color tending to darker than the Aeolian lizard and some macules under the throat. The reduction of its natural habitat by man and the competition with P. sicula, constitute a very serious threat so as to be considered one of the Italian vertebrates at greatest risk of extinction.
Finally, among the animals that have left a significant imprint in the autochthonous communities is the donkey, dialectically called “u sceccu”. There are traces of it starting from the first century. B.C. , it had a marked importance until a few decades ago, because, due to its considerable resistance, it was used for hard work in the vineyards. He acquired so much importance that the peasants reserved for him a special space called “Sarduni”. To date, it is possible to admire the donkey employed not only as a means of loading or transport, but also in folkloristic events.
The marine environment deserves a separate chapter, which has become a popular destination for scuba divers around the world thanks to its crystal clear waters, rich life and countless archaeological finds. The intense volcanic activity that distinguishes the archipelago, composed of 12 connected volcanoes, has shaped the seabed creating a varied environment full of cliffs, submerged volcanoes and caves. The seabed offers rare and extraordinarily beautiful shows, just think of the obsidian walls shining with reflections, the expanses of poseidonia and the seabeds that vary from the white of the pumice to the intense black of the volcanic sand, embellished by the numerous archaeological sites. The seabeds, with altimetric variations over 1000 m mainly rocky, formed by magmas and explosive eruptions, leave little room for the sandy bottoms which, where present, thrive on oceanic posedonia. The affected area is influenced by the marine currents coming from the Strait of Messina, from the Levantine ones, from the Atlantic ones and from those from the Mediterranean basin. The high biodiversity of the marine vegetation and the conspicuous presence of pelagic algae constitute an environment rich in settlements and benthic and planktonic species, creating a perfect nesting environment for numerous fish species such as: Aguglia, Aguglia Imperiale, Alice, Aragosta, Lobster, Squid, Castagnola rosso, Seahorse, Gray mullet, Grouper, Monkfish, Saury, Red Snapper, Red shrimp, Conger, Lampuga, Pompano, Sea pike, Murmur, Musdea, Hake, Hake, Look, Sperm, Sea bream, Pagello, Pagro , Palombo, Priest fish, Bluefish, Swordfish, Octopus, Amberjack, Sarago, Sardine, Red scorpionfish, Cuttlefish, Sea bass, Tuna, Tracina, Triglia and Vopa. It is also possible to see starfish, black corals, equine actinias, turbot and various species of jellyfish that reserve unpleasant encounters if they come into contact with the skin. The most fascinating encounter in which you will encounter, in the Aeolian sea, is surely the one with the cetaceans that, thanks to the abundant presence of fish species, find in these waters an ideal environment for their survival. The most common species are: the sperm whale, the common dolphin, the Zifio, the Stenella, the common whale, the Grampo, the Globicefalo, the Steno, the Bottlenose dolphin and the Pseudorca.
Environmental Safeguard Actions –
The safeguard actions of the Stromboli microsystem must be aimed at an ecological recovery both in terms of flora and fauna. This recovery must also be commensurate with the need to redirect the agricultural economy towards agro-ecological forms of protection.
To this we must add the indisputable necessity of the implementation of a protocol that allows to regulate tourism towards eco-sustainable forms both as regards the marine environment and the terrestrial environment.
An interesting initiative could indeed be to provide tourist companies or tourists with isolated rules of behavior and information sheets on the ecological system of the Aeolian Islands.