The alley of San Gaetano


It is for some years now that the street of San Gaetano seems to have returned a reference point for the walking day and forian night life. The ancient deposits of fishermen and the old houses that overlook it little by little have redone the look, modernizing and becoming more comfortable..

The summer 2012 seems to have finally delivered to the local population and tourists a pleasant place between the classic entertainment and nightlife of the port area, characterized by an offer not just limited to restaurants and entertainment at night but also addressed to culture and local industries.
One gets the feeling that the gnomon of the sundial of the nearby church of San Gaetano is turned back a few decades, when the alley, right during the years of the local tourism development, has experienced its heyday.
We can’t forget summers of the eighties when the alley taverns offered diners a simple yet delicious dishes of local tradition and the piano bar entertained until late hours of night life lovers.
How many stories of love, or lasted only one night, were born under the notes by Vito Colella in his famous Coricò, always crowded premise where you could meet important businessmen, often belonging to the Sachs family, always enamoured of island and still present in the alley with a small gallery of ethnic art, famous artists, wealthy vacationers or just common tourists and local playboy, all united by the desire to spend an evening over the top.
How many young penniless spent their evenings in the corner at the end of the alley, sitting in the doorways of the warehouses of wine waiting for the right time to spend on a tight budget planned for this evening.
How many jugs of house wine and how many courses of peppered mussels were consumed at the tables, the same beautiful and dilapidated today, the tavern “da Pappone”, the latest historian local to resist the passage of time and the succession of crises : maybe mussels that Pappone chooses with great care, the atmosphere will have been naive, that fact “da Pappone” is one of the most enduring of Forio.
Those were also the years in which the ancient Mattera bookshop was open every morning from Mr. Vito who gambled in 1966 on the bookshop, still unpublished on the island.
A precursor of the time of Vito Mattera, who over the years had been able to transform an old tuff cave used by fishermen in an upper cultural room where, between shelves crammed with books of every kind, gathered the few local intellectuals to talk about art, literature and politics.
A coterie that in the heyday of Forio has intrigued even the many famous artists and writers who frequented the island: it was not unusual, in fact, meeting in the “organized chaos” of the bookshop, Alberto Moravia, Natalino Sapegno, Aldo Pagliacci, Guttuso and many others.
Even many of these artists also organized exhibitions of personal straining organizational skills that Vito had to find the right space to accommodate even works of great value; companies that engaged till late at night but then were rewarded by the great influx of public.
Soon, the bookshop became a landmark for the entire population; few forian people have not set foot on those years: for those who love it, some for a gift, for those who buy school books, always finding great availability and kindness.
It was really sad when the wooden door with large windows that gave light to the ancient cave, closed permanently, leaving Forio without a real bookshop, but not ended the desire to continue to spread knowledge: the spaces of the old bookshop, in fact, continued to be used for cultural purposes by the Iacono family, in recent years has opened its tasting Pietratorcia point to the many famous people come to Forio to present their books, or simply to discuss current events or history, completing an interesting fusion experiment between productive and intellectual excellence.
But the smell of paper and ink could not stay away too long from the alley, and behold a few weeks ago, the opening of a small bookstore, Libreria, a few steps from where all began nearly forty years before. And speaking of culture and excellence, just above the point Pietratorcia tasting, in front of the new bookshop, a few months later, the famous local potter Franco Calise opened the doors of his studio, longtime collaborator of one of the most famous potters master of Forio, Taki Calise, active since the early seventies in his shop along the historic course of Forio and the author of some of the most beautiful ceramic works on the island.
Franco Calise could not have chosen better place to return to present his talent to his fellow citizens, now known and appreciated from Rome to New York, he could only settle down where the story of Forio wrote important pages, a few steps from one of the architectural symbol of Forio, the church of San Gaetano, that seems to merge with the works of Calise, it seems to incorporate in its historical foundations, seems to want to animate the shapes with its mysticism.
historical foundations, seems to want to animate the shapes with its mysticism. This is now the alley of St. Gaetano: a unique meeting point between art, architecture, literature, tastes and odours, just a few steps from the sea and forian sunset.

by Antonio Castagliuolo

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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
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