The culture of a society is directly reflected in the architecture of the social environment where people live on a daily basis. In our milieu there was room both for a palace, where the kings and the court of Naples were guests, and for simple stone houses, which the peasants of Forio and Serrara Fontana built directly in the rocks. Our social development can also be recognized by the architecture. Due to the shortage of water during the summer, on the islands of Ischia and Procida, water cisterns were hollowed out under the houses directly in the tuff, and the roofs were built in a curved shape to drain the rainwater into the cisterns. As in the whole of the Mediterranean, the courtyards in the villas of Ischia contribute to reducing the temperature of the air during the summer. The century-long danger of pirate raids has also determined the architecture by the houses were built on narrow streets. Most of the time, a beautiful garden hides behind a tall bricklayer around a house.
Ischia has always attracted people from all over the world. Artists, industrialists, actors and politicians have made the island their second home and built villas according to various architectural styles. From the style of each epoch and the trend of local spontaneous construction a “local image” emerged. Here are a few examples that may help you understand something new.
THE KING PALACE OF ISCHIAS, Palazzo Reale, Ischia Porto -The original small palace, which belonged to the Ischia court physician Francesco Buonocore (1689 – 1768) on the hill directly in front of the lake on Ischia, dates back to 1735. Soon it became practically a luxury sanatorium for the farm. The official court painter Philipp Hackert painted masterpieces for the palace. Likewise, the renowned architect of that time was entrusted with Carlo Vanvitelli’s reconstruction of the palace. Ferdinand II, King of Naples from 1831 to 1859, was very interested in the Palais. At his request in 1854 the port of Ischia. After the Bourbon period, the royal palace was transformed in 1865 into a military health resort. Today it is the seat of the Italian military thermal baths under the name of Stabilimento Balneo Termale Militare Francesco Buonocore, where interesting cultural events are organized, especially in the summer.
THE WATER AQUEDUCT “PILASTRI” – The large bow of the aqueduct separates the municipalities of Ischia and Barano on the main road of the island. The first attempts to solve the water shortage in Borgo di Celsa (today Ischia Ponte) by building a water pipe began in 1580, when the living conditions of the Ischitani became unacceptable due to the drought. Soon, the first attempt failed due to the unexpected costly differences in altitude between the water well Buceto (about 400 m altitude) and the Borgo di Celsa (Ischia Ponte). A positive turn came with the arrival of the new Bishop Girolamo Rocca, who has been resolutely committed to solving the water shortage problem by building a Roman-style aqueduct. But the path was very tedious and long until the bishop finally in the spring of 1685 could bless the fountain of water next to the collegiate church of the Holy Spirit (built between 1636 – 1676) in Ischia Ponte to the delight of the Ischitans.
THE WATCH AND TOWERS. Ischia is also famous for the numerous circular and quadrangular watch and defense towers that were built in the 16th century, mainly in Forio, the Castello Aragonese, Lacco Ameno, Panza, Testaccio and Sant’Angelo for the sighting of pirates in circular and quadrangular , They also served to protect the local population. Barbarossa attacked Ischia in 1544, after which the first attack of Dragut took place in 1548, where he devastated Ischia four years later. The beautiful towers of Forio are now used as living space. An exception is the Torrione (1480) (see our chapter The Museums).
THE VILLA GANCIA, San Francesco bay, Forio d’Ischia – The villa is owned by the sparkling wine maker Gancia family, surrounded by a famous exotic cactus garden. Many Italian VIPS are among the regular guests of the villa
THE VILLA ZAVOTA, Sentinella, Casamicciola Terme – Today owned by Princess Mimosa Parodi Delfino, the villa housed Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1864, who has recovered from it: a plaque at the entrance commemorates this event.
THE STONE HOUSES AND WINE CELLARS – Forio and Serrara Fontana are famous for their stone houses and wine cellars hollowed out in green tufa, which can even be admired directly along the road on an island tour. The tuff used for this purpose proves to be an excellent insulating agent, keeping the internal temperature of the rooms fairly stable.