Sant'Alessandro a procession suspended between history and tradition

sfilata-sant-alessandroA small hamlet embedded in the nature of Ischia Port, a true and proper jewel, rich in history and traditions which annually on 26th August in honour of the name day of Sant'Alessandro,comes to life and as the most beautiful jewel enclosed in an enchanted treasure chest, displays all its splendour. 

Pastel coloured homes, with flower bedecked balconies built following the typical island architecture and its small chapel positioned in the centre of the hamlet (historical artefacts bear witness that it was among the first settlements of the island), narrow cobbled lanes , the whole atmosphere of the hamlet itself changes for the magical day of 26th August and it assumes an even more enchanting and mysterious aura ,a union which not only attracts, but captivates and impressions.
Organised for years by the Pro Loco S Alessandro, the historical procession moves along the main roads of the town of Ischia, leaving from the Aragonese Castle to finish at the hamlet's chapel dedicated to the saint which is the fulcrum of the entire enchanting hamlet.
Throughout the years the event has been enriched with ever newer costumes and participants, also expanding to twinning with other Italian historical processions. Twinnings which have brought greater awareness of the splendid history which our extraordinary island has seen, delegations from the birthplace of some of the main figures in the island's history have added some weight to the Ischian's historical memory, without mentioning the marvellous flag wavers who confer unique sensations every year with their whirling acrobatics.
Hundreds of participants of all ages, residents of the hamlet of Sant'Alessandro but also islanders and tourists alike, take advantage of the chance of living an incomparable experience, participating every year in the procession of 26th August and also taking part in the many preparations preceding this date such as accurate attention to detail in the clothing and the choice of suitable make up.
Positioned by the attentive organisation in historical groups which follow a timed precise programme preceded by a page holding an informative signboard, the participants form a long and colourful procession which begins in the square beneath the Aragonese Castle in Ischia Ponte.
It begins with the Greek colonists ( Ischia is known to have been the first Greek colony in the Mediterranean) who populated Pithecusa, wearing typical clothing of that period, the participants impersonate colonists walking along the antique streets of Ischia. Following, in precise chronological order are the Romans, who chose Aenaria as their ideal island , wearing bright and vibrant coloured clothing, continuing on to arrive at the sumptuous and elegant clothing of the rulers who alternated for centuries on the island of Ischia such as Ferrante, D'Avalos and the splendid Vittoria Colonna but also the anti-pope Baldassarre Cossa and other members of high ranking clergy of that epoch to arrive at the Royal couple of FerdinandoII of Bourbon and consort.
Clothing rich in detail, researched material to mirror the antique images taken from portraits and magically bringing to life characters who made history, not only on Ischia but in the whole of Italy. An enchantment which involves everyone, from children to adults making this event which characterises the Ischian summer really unique.
Colouring and starring in the whole procession are the participants wearing typical Ischian clothing, simple but significant for those going about their daily work on the island in that period. Fishermen intent on selling their freshly caught fish, aided by a cloud of ragamuffins , a woman who ably plaits raffia creating stupendous baskets, a fan seller, peasants who proudly show the fruits of their hard labour in the fields, grapes and figs to eat and wine to drink.
Over the years some participants have choreographed dances and many external groups such as the fascinating "Mammuttones" from Sardinia make it all that much more involving, becoming an unequalled cultural exchange.
Tourists from the world over and television channels from every nation don't miss this important date with history which the historical procession of Sant'Alessandro represents, a unique and unforgettable way to relive the history of the island of Ischia in a few moments and understand traditional and cultural roots.
Having crossed the main roads of the town of Ischia the procession, together with participants and carriages, reaches the hamlet of Sant'Alessandro where traditionally a mass is said in the white chapel dedicated to the saint. After the mass,celebrations with music and tasting of typical dishes and local products are organised.. The products on offer are truly unique, many coming from the culinary traditions of the hamlet of Sant'Alessandro , known only to its inhabitants and have been handed down from generation to generation., a tradition in tradition making even more unique and inevitable the end of summer appointment with the history and traditions of Ischia.

by Maria Funiciello

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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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