The highest municipality of the island is also the least populated. With a peak of 789 metres the area is predominately hilly and big parts of it are used for agriculture. The municipality in the south of the island is divided into the villages of Serrara, Fontana, Noia, Calimera, Pananto, Ciglio, Succhivo and Sant’Angelo.
From the village square of Fontana one can climb on top of the Monte Epomeo, the highest peak of the island. But the municipality has also its own seaside resort: pretty Sant’Angelo, in the south of the island.
Serrara Fontana is a chain of tiny villages following winding lanes through green hills and rocks. In old times the peak of the Mountain was home to a group of hermits. The coastline is limited, but has some small beaches in Sant’Angelo and Cava Grado. The last part of the long Maronti beach with its steam geysers and hot thermal seawater can be easily reached from Sant’Angelo by boat. Nearby the oldest spa of the island, which dates back to Roman times: the Cava Scura.
The genuine, wild beauty of Serrara Fontana, far away from the hectic of modern life, attracts artists and dreamers with its breathtaking views and lovely walks. Very special the pretty little village of Sant’Angelo which unites in its centre the elegance of a historical centre with the charms of a fishermen’s harbour.
It can be said that the municipality has several "firsts": it is, in fact, in terms of population, is the least populous of the six municipalities of the island of Ischia is, however, the higher it rises 366 meters above the level the sea. It is also the only municipality on the island that extends from the sea with the village of Sant'Angelo to the highest peak of the island where there is a wonderful forest called "falanga".
Serrara Fontana was born from the merger of the towns of Serrara (capital) and Fontana, along the slopes of Mount Epomeo at about 360 m above sea level with a mainly agricultural economy.
However, the municipality, also consists of several villages and towns. The most famous is St. Angelo, a small fishing village, is one of the most beautiful and fascinating island and has become a tourist center of the foreground, almost exclusively. Not surprisingly, the so-called Tower of Sant'Angelo, a massive tuffaceous rock tied to the rest of the island by a narrow isthmus, is today the symbol of the entire mountain community. Some of the names of places indicate the presence of man since prehistoric times, is also substantiated by archaeological finds, ranging from the Iron Age to the Magna Greece, the Hellenistic period to come to the Middle Ages. The Calimera village, for example, derives from the greek kalè emera, good morning in Italian, since this is one of the first sites on the island to be irradiated by the rising sun.
In the Middle Ages, however, was the name Fontana, due to the presence of an abundant source of potable water, about which he had to rise to the farmhouse. Source that most recognize the source of quarry Pallarito and was destroyed by a landslide about 200 years ago. The name Serrara, however, is more recent and means "range". Compare with the village officially with the founding of the parish in 1641. The town offers many interesting things to see, like in the village of Fontana, the parish church of St. Holy Mary, built in 1374, to S. Angel of the church of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in 1923 to high, or Epomeo the hermitage of San Nicola, with the nearby church, both carved in green tuff prior to 1459.
But these are not the only buildings excavated in the tufa, in fact, scattered 'throughout the town, you can find features and details of buildings used as homes and cellars dug in the rock that has the ability to maintain a comfortable temperature in both winter and in summer.
PLACES TO VISIT
HERMITAGE OF SAN NICOLA
At the top of Mount Epomeo the hermitage and chapel of San Nicola are cut out of the rocks. The chapel where the hermit is entombed dates from 1459 and has a bas-relief of S. Nicola of Bari from 1504.
This lovely fisher village is the most southern point of the island. Built into the hill it is completely closed for traffic. The islet “La Roja” with the romantic ruin of an old watchtower connected to Sant’Angelo by an isthmus forming the beach and the harbour of the village. The narrow lanes and the central square around the harbour with elegant bars and restaurants make Sant’Angelo meeting point of the national and international jet set.
CHURCH OF OUR LADY DEL CARMINE
Interesting the paintings of Our Lady and Saint Lucy, but also the marble altar from the 18th century. From the square of the church one can admire a fantastic panorama.
MOUNT EPOMEO (788 metres)
Ischia’s highest peak offers unforgettable walks and great views. The best starting point is the village square of Fontana, longer walks start from Forio or Casamicciola. Those who want to avoid the walk can rent a mule near the church of Fontana in the early morning. From the peak you can admire not only the entire island, but also the Bay of Naples, the Peninsula of Sorrento and the island of Capri.
The beauty and the silence of the mountain have attracted hermits throughout time. A tiny chapel dedicated to San Nicola was cut out of the rocks in the 15th century. In the 18th century an ex commander of the Aragonese Castle chose to live here with 12 companions praying but also observing the sea and warning the island’s population in case of danger.
Peasants, who hid there during pirate attacks, have carved several caves and grottos out of the green tufa rock. In some of these grottos snow for drinking water was conserved.
THE HOUSES IN THE ROCKS
The stone houses can be found in various areas of the island, but mainly in the area between Serrara and Forio along the slopes of Epomeo. These grottos cut into the rock or blocks of stone hollowed and transformed into houses were initially used as shelters from attacking pirates, but some are still inhabited today or used as wine cellars.
The houses in the rocks are a curiosity that is hardly ever seen in other places and they testify to the spirit of initiative of the local population. Some of the most beautiful examples can be seen in the village of Ciglio, near the rock of “Noa’s ark”. The high area of Pietra dell’Acqua (Water stone) has basins cut into the rocks.
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