Aenaria, the underwater city

aenaria-la-baia-1It was called Aenaria - from Latin “aenum” which means “metal” - the Roman citadel existed since the fourth century BC up to 130-150 A.D. and suddenly was destroyed by a volcanic eruption or an earthquake. It was in the stretch of water closed between the Aragonese Castle and the cliffs of St. Anna. It was an industrial center where people worked the metal (lead, iron, copper) and the clay. Today this town is submerged at a depth of about 9 meters.

The discovery of Aenaria was made by two divers Pierino Boffelli and Rosario D’ Ambra in September 1972. During a dive they found a piece of galena, the mineral from which we get the lead and two lead ingots of about 36 Kg. With the writing CN-ATELLI-F-MISERINI ie Cneo Atello and Cneo son and the Misurini’ family cups that were to be the owners of the old shop where he was working as lead. Boffelli and D’Ambra also found the walls built with the typical Roman system known as “opus reticulatum”. The news of the discovery was given by “Il Giornale d 'Ischia”, the weekly publication of the time, the number 20 of October 8, 1972.
“Probably we are faced with a discovery that suggests the existence of a small town”, the newspaper wrote at the time that had as the front-page headline: “Maybe a city submerged in the waters of Cartaromana”. The first archaeologists who studied Aenaria - Giorgio Buchner and Don Pietro Monti - were the same ones who were studying Pithekoussai, the oldest Greek colony of the West located in today Lacco Ameno on the opposite side of the island. Aenaria was the Roman city as Pithekoussai was the Greek city and Aenaria marked the passing of economic importance: the Greek colony was setting and was born a Roman colony. How did Aenaria disappear and why?
Don Pietro Monti, the priest-archaeologist in his book “ Ischia, archeologia e storia” says that the cause of destruction and immersion of the citadel should be assigned to Montagnone-Maschiatta eruption, which was accompanied by strong earthquakes and volcano-settling tectonics in the north-western Ischia”.
After the discovery, Aenaria suffered a long oblivion cast aside by the great expansion of mass tourism and the “rediscovery” of cultural tourism and for some years the Archaeological Superintendence of Naples with the contribution of Fondazione Roma-Mediterraneo increased research confirming the existence of the citadel with its factories, its streets, its products. Thus was born “Ancient Aenaria”, a project of enhancement and enjoyment of the underwater city.

It has been done a multidisciplinary study of the Bay of Cartaromana developed through major campaigns of underwater excavations, which have led to fundamental archaeological finds brought to light part of the ancient submerged towards the rediscovery of the roots of culture and civilization.
Because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean, the island was in fact one of the focal points for trade and cultural exchanges in different historical periods. The walls have been identified are of extreme importance not only for the local history but for the entire international scientific community, because they represent new pieces for the reconstruction of the ancient topography Ischia.
The project aims to redevelop the same time as an opportunity and employment development, by organizing guided tours in the archaeological underwater by a boat with a glass bottom, waiting coming soon Underwater Archaeological Park with paths visiting divers and the upcoming opening of the Museo Civico in the so-called Tower of Michelangelo.
Even now, the project initiative of the company “Marina di Sant’Anna”, in addition to purely scientific results achieved, is a tourist attraction point for the entire village of Ischia Ponte, a tool for the protection and conservation of biodiversity of the inlet in harmony with the directives of the AMP Neptune’s Kingdom, a new opportunity for employment development in the field of Cultural Heritage and a stimulus for a different training program that is offered to the Municipality of Ischia.
«I am particularly proud of this initiative, as they return to the world after 2,000 years, the memory of an ancient civilization and glorious as that of the ancient maritime city Aenaria is priceless», says Prof. Emanuele, President of the Fondazione Roma -Mediterraneo.
“This is the principle that has always inspired the activities of the Fondazione Roma-Mediterraneo: recover the traditions and history of the area that was the cradle of Western civilization, and make it the active tool for the economic and social development of the countries that form, through the unique combination of culture and territory, heritage and landscape».

Concludes prof. Emanuele.

The Ancient Aenaria will be available for visits with guided tours to submerged archaeological remains by boats with mirrors by the “Marina of St. Anne” by calling for reservations 081-985510 and 984 854. The ticket price for the tour - which takes about 70 minutes, of which 20 minutes of screenings in the multimedia room and 50 in the sea - is 18,00 euros per person, but requires a minimum of 8 participants, or a minimum share of 150.00 euros.
Reservations required.


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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
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