Nativity at high altitude

DSC 3122On our island are so many events that draw the attention and offer moments of pure enchantment, moments that reconcile one with life and give one the joy of living the atmosphere of times gone by. One of these is undoubtedly that of the commemoration of the birth of Jesus at the Hermitage of St. Nicola, which stands on top of Mount Epomeo that even during these Christmas holidays will repeat on January 5 2015. The canvas is repeated year to year, but the experience is always new and different, attracting tourists and villagers who want to escape the chaos of everyday life for the fresh air and peace. Appointment is at 10:00 at Fontana in Piazza IV Novembre to climb all together Mount Epomeo. The bell, with its ancient sound, will bring together the pilgrims, and at 11:00 am, pastor can. Don Giovanni Trofa celebrate Mass during which they will perform Christmas music and sing the ancient “Ninna Nanna” of the folk tradition, written by the parish priest Msgr. Giovanni Mazzella at the end of ‘800. Immediately after all there will be the opportunity to refresh themselves with local food, washed down with wine, white and red, from the cellars of Cesare Mattera, former mayor of the highest and convinced municipality of the island and proud farmer and staunch defender of homegrown traditions.

In a time when the frantic rush prevents us from any reflection, and even enjoying the beauty of our land, now becomes for everyone, welcome tourists and residents often distracted, finding the time and opportunity to assure themselves a break of serenity and of pure enjoyment of the spirit and soul. Despite the man’s hand, the Island of Ischia is still extraordinarily beautiful! The Epomeo, with its hermitage carved into the green stone and the church of St. Nicola, it remains the unparalleled symbol. From there, the Gulf of Naples, the Isle of Capri to the islands of Ponza and Ventotene and Vesuvius appear suggestive images exciting and unique. Creation, of which the Nativity of the Child recalls the charm and mystery, is synonymous of great wonders.
“The building of St. Nicola, on the summit of Mount Epomeo - Mr. Achille Della Ragione reports - is, in the Italian system, one of the most significant examples of rock-cut architecture. The Stone Temple blends harmoniously with the landscape, artifice exploited the early patrons of the place, they were looking for a safe haven to the continuous Saracen invasions and a real scourge lasted centuries and, at the same time, rich in symbolic meaning. To reach the hermitage one can also come from Barano, but the most direct route is from Fontana, going on foot or by mule, a steep path that starts near the parish church. The church, dug into the tufa, already existed in 1459, while the cells of the convent were built in 1587. It was noblewoman Beatrice Quadra to want to make a retreat for nuns, who, however, they could not hold out for long, for the stiffness of the climate, coupled with roughness of the places, later finding a new, more comfortable seat in the Castle.
In the Hermitage lived famous hermits, such as Giorgio Bavaro died in the odor of sanctity and Giuseppe d’ Argouth (1704-1778), former commander of the military garrison stationed on the island, which, to fulfill a vow made to St. Nicholas , he threw away his gun to retire to the hermit life with twelve trusted companions, become like him friars. On the back wall, dating from the mid-eighteenth century is the chapel of the relics, which occupy a space in the altar divided into hundred niches containing jars, blown glass, with ancient human remains of Saints and Blessed. The arch over the main altar has a statue of St. Nicholas from Bari with the child-bearer, dated 1500, by an unknown sculptor of Campania, not influenced by the lessons of the brothers Malvito, active in Naples in those years. The sculpture represents the oldest evidence of the hermitage which we have inscribed with laudatory words, in a contemporary poem by Pontano”.
So on January 5 in addition to living exciting moments, could be without a doubt the appropriate occasion to visit one of the most interesting historical and religious point of view the of our island which is precisely the Hermitage of San Nicola.
One of the proponents of this ascent to Mount Epomeo as well as the traditional “walk in the woods of Falanga” of mid-August holiday is Franco Iacono, lover of the wonders that inhabit our island: “I hope that on Ischia tourists don’t come to spend time and feel the need to experience the excitement of this day. At the same time the residents have awareness of the value of this land, its history and the respect and seek to be worthy of this gift”.
Now we just have to invite everyone for next January 5 in Piazza IV Novembre in Fontana at 10:00.

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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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