Island with a view

Casamicciola from the sea"Of volcanic origin, the island of Ischia is one of the most fascinating places in Italy thanks to the conjunction of time, history, art and natural beauty. Here live together the sea and archeology, spas and flavors, folklore and modernity. Of the many possible routes to get to know and appreciate, we chose one that favors glances to the visitor. An island tour through scenarios that tell on it, where you can "see" as well as watch. Scenarios can enchant and fix mind not only for the beauty and evocative power of a panorama.

It is best to lease or rent a scooter or, if you are trained, even a bicycle. In the latter case, the crisp air of September will help you to get even the most daring area, challenging the midday heat and the steep slopes due to the highly irregular morphology of the green.

It begins early in the morning, from the village of Ischia Ponte. Churches, ancient buildings, the voices of fishermen and traders. Streets that intersect with each other and reveal secrets and surprises. Walking down Via del Seminario, at angles to pharmacy, there is a small road, Vico Marina, which leads to the first stop on our itinerary. It’s the Palazzo Malcovati, authentic treasure chest away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and directly overlooking the sea.

Set in a square, surrounded by picturesque and decorated houses with a vine-covered facade, the building stands on a tower built in the second half of the sixteenth century as a result of an order of the Royal Court of Naples which favored the construction of maritime towers for defense against pirates. In this place suspended between land and sea have stayed, among others, Eugenio Montale and Joseph Brodsky, here the director Anthony Minghella has imagined the home of Dickie Greaeleaf in the film "The Talented Mr. Ripley", based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith . If the weather is clear, and the air clear, the natural reserve of Vivara and the island of Procida seem close at hand.

The village of Celsa is also the site of the Aragonese Castle, one of the wonders of the island. We choose to watch a little far more than is usually the case. Take Via Gian Battista Vico, then left to Cartaromana. A large open space at the end of the road, you can admire the Castle in all its magnificence and harmonious beauty. Below us the Sant’Anna rocks, to the left of Torre de Guevara, and in the distance Vivara, Procida, Cape Misenum, Capri and Sorrento. A skyline of unparalleled beauty.

 

It’s time to reach the municipalities of Barano and Serrara Fontana, places that have preserved more than others within the rural landscape and the spectacular coast. Immediately after the hamlet of Testaccio, on the road leading to the sea, a belvedere opens onto the beach of Maronti. Three kilometers of beach covered with a sandy mantle, particular and unique composition. Perhaps the most beautiful beach of the island, surrounded by hills whose cliffs, sloping to the sea, appear the dark recesses known as "cave", where are set the hot springs. In the background, the village of Sant'Angelo, which contemplate another viewpoint, that one of Serrara. Along this road, gently uphill, we realize how close we are to the mountain. The gaze suggests, first, and then a gust of wind that enters the clefts, out from the cracks and lies in the valleys, in a rural landscape of eternity and immutability. Once there, where the climate is always fresh, you will be enchanted by the sense of peace and would like to stay as long as the summer, when the landscape offers new colors and Serrara Fontana becomes a natural stage for festivals, religious events and music concerts. In the shade of a large pine tree, the landscape appears docile and at the same time impressive, very sweet and nice with the checkerboard of fields marked by soft arteries of dry stone walls that slope down to the sea. In front of Sant’Angelo and its headland, we immediately want to reach it for a dip in the beach of Cava Grado and a providential snack. First, however, between Ciglio and Cuotto, the eyes rest on the rural architecture of the stone houses, valuable evidence of creativity expressed by rural communities on the island.

 

To reach the next stage of this part from the village of Panza, we go along Campotese and take a narrow road uphill. After about half an hour, we get to the lighthouse of Punta Imperatore which dominates a large part of the territory of Forio. Almost an aerial view that embraces Citara and the beautiful coastline, the white Church of Soccorso and the ancient towers of the town. Behind us the Mediterranean maquis goes down to the precipice of coves that are treasures of pure water, while the majestic scenery of the mountain, in the rockier side, from lighting design. Thanks to the wind that sweeps the sky, the sun’s rays are reflected in a crystal stone on Ischia giving an unforgettable sight. If it is near the time of sunset, you should wait here, in the company of peregrine falcons that are exercises in remaining aloof flight distances and seagulls, many who throw themselves into the sea with wings still as hang gliders. In Lacco Ameno, on the north side of the island, is a must stop at the viewpoint of Monte Vico. Another breathtaking view of large amplitude: Piazza Santa Restituta, the elegant pedestrian course, the characteristic Fungo, the Archaeological Museum of Villa Arbusto, the coastal road that leads to Casamicciola, the hills of Tabor and Rotaro. The temptation is strong to photograph, but it would take a 360° lens. The landscape is there in front of us, when we look in the viewfinder, there's more. Just delimiting it, it disappears.

 

At dusk we return to Ischia Porto. We stop on the harbor, natural jewel among the most beautiful in the Mediterranean Sea. We choose the park Pagoda, on the left bank, as a last observation point of our journey. The large ships of maritime transport and fishing boats pass by the old wood corroded by salt and light entering the port. In front of us on the other side of the harbor, building a Pompeian red color almost surrounded by the vegetation is Villa Dohrn, now a research center in benthic ecology. The first lights of evening, reflected in the mirror of water are the restaurants and nightlife of the Rive Droite, a certainty in Ischia by night. They may be more or less crowded, according to the season or fashion of the moment. Sometimes they close and reappear with a new name. In other cases, they simply change look. Those that really matter, are almost the same, timeless meeting places that animate the island nights. But that’s another story.

 

by Giuseppe Mazzella

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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
  • Cities: 6
  • Inhabitants: 58.029

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