Sulfur and the ring pledge

Festa San Vito Forio Ischia 1The name of the second island city in importance and extension, has all the charm of the influences that have animated it and according to some scholars is derived from ‘Fiorio’, symbolizing the flourishing after the destruction of other Hamlets. According to others it is descended from the Greek «phoròs», that is ‘fertile’ or - more likely - from «chorìon» ie «villaggio». The month of June is the most appropriate to visit the “middle ground”, located between the promontories of Punta Caruso - known as Zaro - and Punta Imperatore.

Forio covers 12,85 square kilometres on the slopes of Mount Epomeo that reigns on this part of the island. It retains a unique old town with typical streets, monuments, churches rich in history and towers. It was destination and internationally center of famous men and culture, from Luchino Visconti to Pier Paolo Pasolini through Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia, Renato Guttuso, Auden and Pablo Neruda. The most important festival is that one in honor of San Vito, the patron saint of the city. The folkloric ritual of the procession celebrating the saint, with one of the two statues that represent the saint in wood, one on the left side of the altar in the Basilica dedicated to him and called “Parish” in a 1306 document guarded in the Vatican.

Borne on the shoulders of devotees the exodus of human beings winds and stretches through the streets of the country and marks the beginning of the summer season. The other silver statue, silver, under lock because of some theft, arrived in Forio in 1787 and is exposed to the public only during ceremonies. It was designed by sculptor Giuseppe Sammartino and produced by goldsmiths Gennaro and Giuseppe Del Giudice. Is Forio a journey or a destination? For some it’s just a simple journeytowards folklore and traditions. A stage for the charms of civilization that in the stories of Abbé Alphonse Kannengiesser in his «Souvenirs d’Italie» of 1886 - the French edition of Giovanni Castagnatranslation is described in great turmoil on St. Vito Day and glance of the “great and compact multitude of islanders’ that floods the streets that “seem narrow corridors and are just three meters wide”.

For others, however, it is a point of arrival that does not exclude the start, in which find themselves through new and undefined smell of the earth sunburnt which is mixed with sea breeze forming a picture worthy of being experienced by the senses. In June, the sun is hot, burns and remembers the Sicilian one. An island, Sicily, where born, to be exact in Mazara Del Vallo in the third century. Protector of fishermen and dancers, young and fervent Christian, he was martyred for his faith in 303 by the Emperor Diocletian who imprisoned him and killed together with tutor Modesto and Crescentia, his nurse. The cult spread from Italy, in other places, up to Prague where in the Cathedral are kept some remains, but the bodies of the three presumed to be buried near the town of Marigliano, identified by scholars as oldest Marianus. And on June 15, the day of death of young Vito, which creates and constitutes the link in the feeling of devotion and is a “village festival”, with rides, stalls and music, a widespread occurrence in many places in the south of Italy, by which it transmits the message of salvation.

The cult for San Vito, in Forio, has ancient origins. In the Middle Ages, in fact, there was a temple in some region of Citara. Because of the Saracen invasions, it was later built in the upper part of the “Casale di Forio”. Legend has it that was the Holy Child to save the country’s economy in the nineteenth century. Based on the cultivation of the vine, at that time it raged the terrible blight that was because of the shortage of the harvests. One day a ship from Sicily, with a cargo of sulfur, moored in the harbor. The crew claimed to have been sent to Forio by a young man who, pawned his ring, he asked them to heal the vine handing the precious cargo. Obviously the cure gave the expected results and the popular imagination identified the salvation in young San Vito from Sicily. Forio is a place that because of the hundreds of things to see, absorb and adjust, hides and conceals among its lanes the charm of a place with a millenary tradition. All including a maze of perfume and folklore that testifies the story and is wonderfully beautiful.

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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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