Around Us / Ischia
Ischia at last… The coast is enchanting; it rises
up smoothly and culminates in a large hill, covered
with greenery, gardens and vines.
Guy de Maupassant, 1885
The island of Ischia is the largest of the Gulf of Naples.
A very popular destination, frequented by tourists from all around the world also attracted by its vibrant nightlife, Ischia deserved to the extraordinary beauty of its landscape the name of Green Island or Garden of Europe.
Aside from the appeal of its landscapes and beaches, what makes Ischia a destination not to be missed are its thermal baths, which have become very famous thanks to the quality of the water.
Some of the most famous thermal baths can be found in the villages of Casamicciola and Lacco Ameno.
The main center, which gives its name to the island, includes the two villages of Porto, a beach and thermal resort, and Ponte, a set of buildings from different periods that nowadays is a characteristic fishing village dominated by the Castello Aragonese (the Aragonese Castle).
This complex was commissioned by the king Alfonso V of Aragon and thanks to the strategic position of the site, the community could take shelter in the castle, in order to defend itself from the enemies and pirates’ attacks.
The Castle is in realty a citadel, with streets, churches, a prison and even a small hotel. There is a magnificent panorama from the terraces suspended high over the sea.
To learn more about the rich history of the island is definitely helpful a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Pithecusae – the ancient name of Ischia – which preserves precious relicts including the famous Cup of Nestor.
One of the most beautiful villages in the isle is Forio, which strongly maintains its traditional character as a fishing village. Here, on the top of a tufa spur, stands the white sanctuary of Santa Maria del Soccorso, a very picturesque little church, where sailors came to give thanks for delivery from danger on the seas.
The church, an Ancient Augustinian convent that was founded around 1350, is located in a particularly beautiful and scenic location on a promontory overlooking the sea. From the beautiful terrace, made of majolica tiles, when certain atmospheric conditions occur, it is possible to see an optic refraction known as green ray. Sunset in this corner of paradise, when the red light of the sun sets fire to the white walls of the church, is a unique experience.
The spectacular gardens of La Mortella, which are near Forio, are well worth a visit. In this residence, house of the musician sir William Walton, you can admire colorful flowers, exotic plants and beautiful water lilies.
Another famous Villa is La Colombaia, the legendary summer home that belonged to Luchino Visconti and includes a permanent museum dedicated to the great director. La Colombaia, located between the sea, the sky and dense woodland, has an amphitheater that hosts important cultural events.
Over all dominates the summit of Mount Epomeo (789 mt), that gives the island its unmistakable profile and offers breathtaking views of the Gulf of Naples.
On the peak of the mountain lies the striking hermitage of San Nicola (15th century), which is entirely dug out of tufa rock.
Finally, it is important to remember the beautiful beach of the Maronti, the biggest and suggestive beach of the Island able to surprise its visitors.
The most memorable words to describe the mood that you feel after visiting this magic of nature are the last lines of the poem farewell to the great poet W.H. Auden:
“though one cannot always remember exactly why one has been happy, there is no forgetting that one was”