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The Italian island of Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands and lies in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the northern coast of Sicily. The island is located between Vesuvius and Etna and is around 30 km from Sicily. Lipari is a relatively small island, measuring just under 40 sq. km, with one main town, also called Lipari, and 4 other villages: Pianoconte, Quattropani, Acquacalda and Canneto. Lipari Town is a lovely place to take a stroll and has a number of elegant town houses, along with some more modest houses, with flower strewn balconies set along pretty little streets. The island's inhabitants are very welcoming to visitors and tend to have a cheery disposition. There are many souvenir shops on the island and a good selection of cafe's and restaurants serving good, local food and drink. There are traces of the island's history throughout the island with Greek tombs that lie open to the sky. However, perhaps the most impressive visitor attraction on the island is its castle.
Lipari is the most practical base for visiting the Aeolian Islands. Fast ferry connections from Sicily all stop here, and there are plenty of boats and hydrofoils to the other islands.
Messina is an Italian city and is sometimes referred to as 'the door of Sicily' and lies on the Strait of Messina in the north east of Sicily. The city's port has played an important role in the city's growth and fortunes and supports tourism for the city and surrounding area and is also home to commercial and military shipyards. Since 1548, Messina has been a Roman Catholic Archdiocese and Archimandrite and is also home to the University of Messina which was founded in 1548 by Ignatius of Loyola. A popular tourist attraction in the city is the 12th century cathedral which guards the remains of King Conrad who was ruler of Germany and Sicily during the 13th century. Following a huge earthquake in 1908 the cathedral had to be almost completely rebuilt between 1919-1920 and then again in 1943 following a fire that was caused by Allied bombing during the Second World War.
Ferry services from Messina operate to one of two ports in Calabria (Villa San Giovanni and Reggio Calabria) or on a longer ferry ride to Salerno, just south of Naples.