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For the comune, see Ischia . For the part of the human hip, see Ischium


Maronti beach, east of the spit of St Angelo.


Ischia ( Pron. "Ee-skee-ah") is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Seamarker, at the northern end of the Gulf of Naplesmarker. The roughly trapezoidal island lies about 30 km from Naplesmarker and measures around 10 km east to west and 7 km north to south with a coastline and a surface area of . It is almost entirely mountainous, with the highest peak being Mount Epomeo at 788 meters.. The island has a population of over 60,000 people.

Ischia Porto is the name of the main comune of the island. Other community areas include Barano d'Ischiamarker, Casamicciola Termemarker, Foriomarker, Lacco Amenomarker and Serrara Fontanamarker.

The main industry is tourism, centering on thermal spas that cater mostly to European (especially German) and Asian tourists eager to enjoy the fruits of the island's natural volcanic activity, its thermal hot springs, and its volcanic mud. For many of the inhabitants on the Italian-speaking island, German and English are second languages. This is because of the large number of German- and English-speaking tourists who visit the island each year. The Ferrandino Family, who still live on Ischia, are the rightful owners of the Castello Aragonese.

Geography

The roughly trapezoidal island is formed by a complex volcano immediately SW of the Campi Flegreimarker area at the western side of the Bay of Naplesmarker. The eruption of the trachytic Green Tuff ignimbrite about 56,000 years ago was followed by caldera formation. The high point on the island, 789-m-high Monte Epomeo, is a volcanic horst composed of the Green Tuff ignimbrite deposit that was submerged after its eruption and then uplifted. Volcanism on the island has been significantly affected by tectonism that formed a series of horsts and grabens; at least 800 m of uplift has formed as a result of resurgent doming during past 33,000 years. Many small monogenetic volcanoes were formed around the uplifted block. Volcanism during the Holocene produced a series of pumiceous tephras, tuff rings, lava domes, and lava flows. The latest eruption of Ischia, in 1302 AD, produced a spatter cone and the Arso lava flow, which reached the NE coast.

Name

Virgil poetically referred to it as Inarime and still later as Arime. Martianus Capella followed Virgil in this allusive name, which was never in common circulation: the Romans called it Aenaria, the Greeks, Pithekoussai . "Pliny derives the Greek name from the local ceramic clay deposits, not from píthēkos (monkey); he explains the Latin name as connected with Aeneas' beach-head" (Princeton Encyclopedia) The current name appears for the first time in a letter from Pope Leo III to Charlemagne in 813 (iscla from insula) though there is an argument made for a Semitic origin in I-schra, "black island".

History

Ancient times

An acropolis site of the Monte Vico area was inhabited from the Bronze Age, as Mycenaean and Iron Age pottery finds attest. Euboeanmarker Greeks from Eretriamarker and Chalcismarker arrived in the 8th century BC to establish an emporium for trade with the Etruscansmarker of the mainland. This settlement was home not only to Greeks, but a mixed population of Greek, Etruscanmarker and Phoenicianmarker inhabitants. Because of its fine harbor, the settlement of Pithecusae became successful through trade in iron and with mainland Italy; at its peak, Pithecusae was home to about 10,000 people.

The ceramic Euboean artifact inscribed with a reference to "Nestor's cup" was discovered in a grave on the island in 1953. Engraved upon the cup are a few lines written in the Greek alphabet. Dating from c. 730 BC, it is one of our most important testimonies to the early Greek alphabet, from which our own Latin alphabet descends via the Etruscan alphabet. The inscription also seems to be the oldest written reference to the Iliad.

In 474 BC, Hiero I of Syracuse came to the aid of the Cumaeans, who lived on the mainland opposite Ischia, against the Etruscansmarker and defeated them on the sea. He occupied Ischia and the surrounding Parthenopean islands and left behind a garrison to build a fortress before the city of Ischia itself. This was still extant in the Middle Ages, but the original garrison fled before the eruptions of 470 BC and the island was taken over by Neapolitans. The Romans seized Ischia (and Naples) in 322 BC.

Christian era until the 16th century

In 6 AD, Augustus restored the island to Naples in exchange for Caprimarker. Ischia suffered from the barbarian invasions, being taken first by the Heruli then by the Ostrogoths, being ultimately absorbed into the Eastern Roman Empire. The Byzantines gave the island over to Naples in 588 and by 661 it was being administered by a Count liege to the Duke of Naples. The area was devastated by the Saracens in 813 and 847; in 1004 it was occupied by Henry II of Germany; the Norman Roger II of Sicily took it in 1130 granting the island to the Norman Aldoyn de Candida created Count d’Ischia; the island was raided by the Pisansmarker in 1135 and 1137 and subsequently fell under the Suebi and then Angevin rule. After the Sicilian Vespers in 1282, the island rebelled, recognizing Peter III of Aragon, but was retaken by the Angevins the following year. It was conquered in 1284 by the forces of Aragon and Charles II of Anjoumarker was unable to successfully retake it until 1299.

Local view, The Fungo (mushroom)


As a consequence of the island's last eruption, the population fled to Baiamarker where they remained for 4 years. In 1320 Robert of Anjou and his wife Sancia visited the island and were hosted by Cesare Sterlich, who had been sent by Charles II from the Holy See to govern the island in 1306 and was by this time nearly 100 years of age.

Ischia suffered greatly in the struggles between the Angevin and Durazzo dynasties. It was taken by Carlo Durazzo in 1382, retaken by Louis II of Anjou in 1385 and captured yet again by Ladislav Durazzo in 1386; it was sacked by the fleet of the Antipope John XXIII under the command of Gaspare Cossa in 1410 only to be retaken by Ladislav the following year. In 1422 Joan II gave the island to her adoptive son Alfonso V of Aragon, though, when he fell into disgrace, she retook it with the help of Genoamarker in 1424. In 1438 Alfonso reoccupied the castle, kicking out all the men and proclaiming it a Castilian colony, marrying to his garrison the wives and daughters of the expelled. He set about building a bridge linking the castle to the rest of the island and he carved out a large gallery, both of which are still to be seen today. In 1442, he gave the island to one of his favorites, Lucretia d'Alagno, who in turn entrusted the island's governance to her brother-in-law, Giovanni Torella. Upon the death of Alfonso in 1458, they returned the island to the Angevin side. Ferdinand I of Naples ordered Alessandro Sforza to chase Torella out of the castle and gave the island over, in 1462, to Garceraldo Requesens. In 1464, after a brief Torellan insurrection, Marino Caracciolo was set up as governor.

In February 1495, with the arrival of Charles VIII, Ferdinand II landed on the island and took possession of the castle, and, after having killed the disloyal castellan Giusto di Candida with his own hands, left the island under the control of Innico d'Avalos, marquis of Pescaramarker and Vastomarker, who ably defended the place from the French flotilla. With him came his sister Costanza and through them they founded the D'Avalos dynasty which would last on the island into the eighteenth century.

16th-18th centuries

Throughout the 15th century, the island suffered the incursions of pirates and Barbary privateers - in 1543 and 1544 Khair ad Din, called Barbarossa, laid waste to the island, taking 4,000 prisoners in the process. In 1548 and 1552, Ischia was beset by his successor Dragut Rais. With the increasing rarity and diminishing severity of the piratical attacks later in the century and the construction of better defenses, the islanders began to venture out of the castle and it was then that the historic centre of the town of Ischia was begun. Even so, many inhabitants still ended up slaves to the pirates, the last known being taken in 1796. During the 1647 revolution of Masaniello, there was an attempted rebellion against the feudal landowners.

From 18th century until today

With the extinction of the D'Avalos line in 1729, the island reverted to state property. In March, 1734 it was taken by the Bourbons and administered by a royal governor seated within the castle. The island participated in the short-lived Republic of Naples starting in March, 1799 but by April 3, Commodore Thomas Troubridge under the command of Lord Nelson had put down the revolt on Ischia as well as on neighboring Procidamarker. By decree of the governor, many of the rebels were hung in a square on Procida now called Piazza dei martiri (Square of the Martyrs). Among these was Francesco Buonocore who had received the island to administer from the French Championnet in Naples. On February 13, 1806, the island was occupied by the French and on the 24th was unsuccessfully attacked by the English.

On July 28, 1883, an earthquake destroyed the villages of Casamicciola Termemarker and Lacco Amenomarker.

In 1936 Ischia had a population of 30,418.

Today, Ischia is a popular tourist destination, welcoming up to 6 million visitors per year, mainly from the Italian mainland as well as Germany (approximately 5,000 Germans are resident on the island), although it has become an increasingly popular destination for the well-to-do Eastern Europeans (particularly Russia and Poland). Ischia is easily reached by ferry from Naples, with an approximate travel time of between 40 minutes and one  hour. The number of thermal spas on the islands makes it particularly popular with tourists seeking "wellness" holidays.

Ischia in literature and the arts

The Britishmarker classical composer William Walton settled in Ischia in 1949 and lived on the island for the remainder of his life, dying there in 1983.

In 1948, American author Truman Capote stayed in room number 3 in the Pensione Lustro in the town of Forio on the island. He wrote an essay about his stay there, which later appeared in Local Color, published in 1950 by Random House.

Parts of the Hollywood film The Talented Mr Ripley were filmed on the island. Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen lived on the island for a short period, and is said to have finished Peer Gynt there in 1867. The Hollywood Hit The Crimson Pirate was also filmed on the island. French novelist Pascal Quignard set much of his book Villa Amalia on the island. Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor was also filmed on the island.

Hergé's The Adventures of Tintin ends in Ischia, which serves as the location of Endaddine Akass's villa in the unfinished book Tintin and Alph-Art. W.H. Auden wrote his poem "In Praise of Limestone" here.

Main sights

Castello Aragonese.

Aragonese Castle

The Aragonesemarker Castle (Castello Aragonese, Ischia Ponte) was built on a rock near the island in 474 BC, by Hiero I of Syracuse. At the same time, two towers were built to control enemy fleets' movements. The rock was then occupied by Parthenopeans (the ancient inhabitants of Naplesmarker). In 326 BC the fortress was captured by Romans, and then again by the Parthenopeans. In 1441 Alfonso V of Aragon connected the rock to the island with a stone bridge instead of the prior wood bridge, and fortified the walls in order to defend the inhabitants against the raids of pirates. Around 1700, about 2000 families lived on the islet, including a larisses Convent, the Abbey of Basilians from Greece, the Bishop and the Seminar, the Prince with a military garrison. There were also thirteen churches. In 1912, the Castle was sold to a private owner. Today the castle is the most visited monument of the island. It is accessed through a tunnel with large openings which let the light enter. Along the tunnel there is a small chapel consecrated to Saint John Joseph of the Cross (San Giovan Giuseppe della Croce), the patron saint of the island. A more comfortable access is also possible with a modern lift. After arriving outside, it is possible to visit the Church of the Immacolata and the Cathedral of Assunta. The first was built in 1737 on the location of a smaller chapel dedicated to Saint Francis, and closed after the suppression of Convents in 1806 as well as the Nunnery of Clarisses.

View From La Mortella.
Ancient Tree La Mortella.


Gardens of La Mortella

The gardens, located in Forio-San Francesco, were originally the property of English composer William Walton. Walton lived in the villa next to the gardens with his Argentinian wife Susanna. When the composer arrived on the island in 1946, he immediately called Russell Page from England to lay out the garden. Wonderful tropical and Mediterranean plants were planted and some have now reached amazing proportions. The gardens include wonderful views over the city and harbour of Forio. A museum dedicated to the life and work of William Walton now comprises part of the garden complex.

Villa La Colombaia

Villa La Colombaia is located in Lacco Ameno and Forio territories. Surrounded by a park, the villa (called "The Dovecote") was made by Luigi Patalano, a famous local socialist and journalist. It is now the seat of a cultural institution and museum dedicated to Luchino Visconti. The institution promotes cultural activities such as music, cinema, theatre, art exhibitions, work-shops, and cinema reviews. The villa and the park are open to the public.

Others

  • Sant'Angelo (Sant'Angelo, in the comune of Serrara-Fontana)
  • Maronti Beach (Barano d'Ischia)
  • Church of the Soccorso' (Forio)


Town twinning

Ischia has had a twin town relationship with Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker, USAmarker, since 1984, although the relationship is presently inactive. Many migrants from Ischia also settled in the port town San Pedro, California and the college town of Princeton, New Jersey

Environmental Problems

On 14 June 2007, there was a breakage in one of the four high‑voltage underwater cables forming the power line maintained by Enel S.p.A — although never authorised by the competent Italian authorities — between Cuma on the Campania coast and Lake Ameno on the island of Ischia. Inside each cable there is an 18 mm‑diameter channel filled with oil under high pressure.

The breakage of the Enel cable resulted in the spillage of oil into the sea and into other environmental matrices — with the consequent pollution by polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs, the use of which was banned by the Italian authorities as long ago as 1984), aromatic polycyclic hydrocarbons (APHs) and linear alkyl benzenes (aromatic hydrocarbons) — in the ‘Regno di Nettuno’ a marine protected area, and the largest ecosystem in the Mediterranean Sea, designated as a ‘priority habitat’ in Annex I to the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and comprising oceanic posidonia beds.

See also



References

  1. Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
  2. http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=0101-03=
  3. http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=0101-03=&volpage=synsub
  4. His poetical allusion was apparently to the mention in Iliad (ii.783) of Typhoeus being chained down ein Arimois
  5. The plural likely indicated Procida as well.
  6. Columbia-Lippincott Gazeteer, p. 849
  7. "A Message from the Peace Commission: Information on Cambridge's Sister Cities," February 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
  8. Richard Thompson. "Looking to strengthen family ties with 'sister cities'," Boston Globe, October 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
  9. [1]Retrieved 2008-12-09
  10. Subject: Environmental catastrophe in Ischia


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