This summer I was on my home island, together with my love. I wanted to show him, where I am from, so maybe he can understand a little bit more why I am how I am. And maybe forgive me sometimes my ‘strange’ ways of being. Because he has the tendency like most people to mix the fact that I have a German passport so I should be a German. But that is not true. I lived most of my life in Southern Italy, so that’s how I am.
Anyway, besides that we came here for a few days vacation, going around on a rented scooter and do some sight seeing. So we went also to visit the symbol of the island: the Aragonese Castle. You can see it already approaching the island.
The castle has quiet along history. Almost 2.500 years ago, 474 BC Hiero I of Syracuse built the castle on the little islet which is today connected with the island Ischia through a 220-meter-long causeway.
Later the Parthenopeans, the ancient inhabitants who also founded Naples, occupied the castle. Just 60 years after, the Romans already captured the fortress, but to give it back to the Parthenopeans. The castle rock was at that time still connected to the island but because of many eruptions and earthquakes the soil lowered and it became an island. The village founded by the PitheKoussai disappeared in the 2nd century BC.
Later in history the islet with the castle became even the home of the inhabitants of the Insula Major(Ischia) when there were many raids of barbaric and Saracens’ raids.
In the 12th century the Normans came to rule the island. Only 60 years later Henry VI of Swabia conquered the island and for the first time the castle was not anymore used as a fortress but as a residence for noble families.
By the end of the 13th century the Angevin built the port of today Ischia Porto and a bridge to the castle island. Under Alfonso de Aragon the castle got more enlargements. In 1301 Mount Trippodi erupted and the inhabitants of Ischia started to live again on the islet of the castle. But this time they also built houses and palaces, a real little town.
In 1423 the castle became a fortress and a royal residence. In December 1509 in the Cathedral of the castle there was the wedding of Vittoria Colonna and Fernando d’Avalos, Marquis of Pescara. Vittoria lived here for 35 years, dedicating her life to literature and poetry. The most famous poets were among her intimate friends.
After the century long history of the Aragonese, Spanish and Austrian occupation followed. In the end of the 17th century there were only 250 inhabitants left, the Clarisses nuns including.
In the end of the18th century the castle was used as a political prison, with nearly no inhabitants anymore.
Since 1912, the castle was sold to the lawyer Nicola Ernesto Mattera. He started a long series of reconstruction and made it his personal private residence. In 1967 the structures were declared a national monument and had an absolute ban for the private residency of the Mattera family. But still the Mattera family continued to promote cultural events to carry on with restoration.
We entered the castle on a hot sunny day and decided to walk up (instead of taking the lift). We walked through a gallery, clearly visible that it had once been a fortress with a high protection. The small chapel we passed, is consecrated to John Joseph of the Cross, the patron saint of the island. We visited the church which was preparing for an exhibition. Everywhere works for the Ischia Film Festival.
On the highest point there is the Maschio, we can’t visit. From every point of the castle there is a breathtaking view: on Ischia porto, Ischia Ponte, Cartaromana and to the other side to Capri, Procida, Vivara and of course Naples and the main land. I can’t get enough of these views!
We sat in one of the restaurants and had a light lunch with salad and ice-cold drinks (well, my sweetie only likes ice-cold drinks!). I think we spent something like 3 hours and more on the castle. Especially on a sunny hot day it is so beautiful and refreshing to sit in the shade and have some lunch, ice-cream or even a cold drink with loads of ice-cubes in and look on the turquoise water, the white houses and the green nature of Ischia.
Aragonese Castle, Ischia Ponte, Campania/Italy: