The Municipality of Ischia is situated on the eastern side of the island and boasts the main port.
It has assumed the role of “capital” as most of the public administrative offices are situated there. The port is famous not only for its form and history but also as the largest port in Italy used by small craft sailors.
It is the most populated municipality (approximately 18.000 residents) and divided into two centres Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte, it covers an area of 8,05 square kilometres and its highest point reaches an altitude of 395 metres. It also includes the villages of Campagnano, San Michele and Sant’Antuono.
Two separate centres Ischia Ponte (once known as Borgo Celsa) and Ischia Porto (once called villa Bagni).
Two centres, but each having its own way of living, its own rapport with the sea and tourism, even the buildings, churches and monuments are diverse.
Ischia is the largest town with population of the island, with numerous hotels of every category and an intense tourist movement. It has a shopping center, which extends between the Via Roma and the course Vittoria Colonna. Do not miss the fun and different type of tourist attractions: Just think, among other things, the so-called “rive droite” (the right bank of the port) with a night club, piano bar, disco, folk taverns, wine bars, restaurants, shops with local crafts and boutiques.
The name derives from Ischia Insula Maior corrupted then in Iscla from which the present-day Ischia.
The town has a main town divided into two parts, the capital, only officially named “Ischia” but commonly known as “Ischia Porto”, and the area of “Ischia Ponte”, which takes its name from the wooden bridge (today in masonry ) that until the eighteenth century, linking the village with the Aragonese castle. Few know that the current port of Ischia was originally a small lake Pantaniello said that welcomed inside a small island, on which the Tondo Basilian erected a chapel to St. Nicholas. The lake was little more than two meters deep and there we caught fish fine. In 1670, to eliminate the odor, opened a small mouth. The transformation of the pond, however, the port must be the will of King Ferdinand II. A plaque at the entrance of the harbor recalls the opening of the port by the sovereign in September of 1854. Always to the will of the sovereign is due Portosalvo church, inaugurated in 1857, which opens the port with its Ionic peristyle. Not far away is found, the Thermal Force, the former Royal Palace of Ischia.
Culture, Art and More
Entrance is through a gallery carved from therock, by order of alfonso I of Aragon in 1447. Many ruins from the Renaissance period to be viewed, Visiting hours; 9:00 am to sunset.
Info Tel.: 0817991959.
Seven rooms on three floors displaying photographs of marine life, postcards from 1880 to 1960, nautical and fishing equipment, marine votives, sea shells, antique anchors, amphorae raised from the seabed around the island, seascapes, model ships and a section dedicated to the underwater world. Open to the public April to October 10:00 – 12:00 am/5:00 – 8:0 pm; July and August 6:30 – 10:00 pm; December – March 6:00 – 7:30 pm.
TOWER OF MICHEANGELO
The Tower of Guevara, Duke of Bovino is situated in the Bay of Cartaromana. Built at the end of the 15th century it formed along with the Aragonese Castle an unique defence and alarm system. 16th century frescoes attributed to a student of Raffaello can be seen on the 1st floor. Numerous art exhibitions are held in the Tower during the summer.
These majestic arches, known locally as The Columns were built to bring water from the spring of Buceto to the population in Ischia Ponte and the Castle. It was in use until the end of the 1930’s. Built in 1672 by order of Monsignor Girolamo Rocca a heavy tax on flour was imposed on the Ischitans, to cover the cost.
CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF GRACE
Commonly called the Church of St. Peter it is of particular architectural beauty, has a central aisle, side chapels and a delightful churchyard. 5 canvases by Carlo Borelli Ponticelli are hung above the altars and the dome is covered with enamelled tiles which gleam in the sunshine.
Visit Perrazzo Wines’ centuries old wine cellar on the right Bank at Ischia Port.
A visit to this small factory is highly recommended. The first of its kind on the island it produces liqueurs and locally grown bottled spices – god souvenir presents.
Visit this small perfume workshop in Via Gianturco where the essence of the island can be found, captured in small bottles.
In an old guard house in the Aragonese Castle, built in 1441 by Alfonso I of Aragon, a collection of medieval weapons and instruments of torture and execution from 1300 to 1850 are on display.
CHURCH OF PORTOSALVO
Built following the transformation of the lake into a port in 1854-1856 by order of Kind Federico II of bourbon. On the hill behind the church is the royal Palace, now a military establishment.
NOT TO BE MISSED
The Aragonese Castle
On an islet some 200 metres from the island of Ischia Gerone of Siracuse began building this fortress castle in 474 BC.
After Gerone the Romans settled in the Castle, approximately 83 BC and it was frequented by their nobility seeking thermal cures.
Consequently abandoned it fell into disrepair until 1130 when the Normans conquered the area, following them it was occupied by the Svevi and the Angoini.
Alfonso I of Aragon in 1440, ordered the building of most of the present day Castle and the first wooden bridge connecting it to the village of Ischia Ponte. It then became a garrison for the Italian Kings of the Bourbon Dynasty.
Almost all the inhabitants of Ischia lived in the Castle or its grounds and it took the name “City of Ischia”.
VISITING THE CASTLE
Entrance on foot is through a gallery hewn from the rock by order of Alfonso of Aragon around 1447 or by sing the modern lift. Boiling oil and stones could be thrown down on any invaders from the overhear sky lights.
Passing the chapel of St. Barbara one arrives at the ex-prison. Many political prisoners were held here in 179. The main building Il Maschio housed the living quarters.
The ruined Cathedral still reflects the splendour of by-gone days. The famous poetess Vittoria Colonna married Ferrante D’Avalos here in December 1509.
In the interior of the Castle you can visit the church of the Immaculate from the 18th century, the Clarisse Convent with its cemetery dating from the 16th century, the crypt of the Cathedral with its 14th century frescoes attributed to the School of Giotto, the church of S. Peter a Pantaniello dating from the 16th century.
The church of St. Mary Grace with a panoramic terrace. Gothic arches can be seen on the exterior of the Maschio, ruins of the Temple of the Sun, defensive battlements and a weaponry square of the church of Santa Barbara.