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ISCHIA HISTORY OF THE ISLAND


People settled in the island in the Bronze Age, which is proved by archeological evidences found at the foot of mount Monte Vico: items that are dated back to 3500-1200 BC. The results of excavations suggest that prehistoric site of early man was buried under the layer of ash.

According to archeological resources, the civilization was brought to Ischia in 8 BC by the Greeks, who, by settling down in the territory of modern Lacco Ameno, established the most ancient colony  in the west Mediterranean: "Pithecusa" (in Greek means “the city of vessels”). Hellenes sent gold, iron and bronze to the mainland.

During the centuries the art of pottery and winemaking had been developing there and the exchange of goods had been prospering. There is no other region in the territory of Italy where such a rich material for archeologists can be found:  grave goods, hundreds of ornamented vessels, items made of iron, terracotta and bronze.
Despite the fact that Hellenes had lived in prosperity, thanks to soil fertility and factories on production of ceramic goods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions forced them to move to the mainland where they founded a city called Cumae.

In 474 BC, a Greek person Heron took possession of the island as a tribute for protection given during the invasion of aboriginal tribes of Tyrrhenians (Etruscans), who were dissatisfied with newcomers. Heron built the first guard post at the place of Aragonese Castle.

Romans got interested in the island in 322 BC. They expanded their interests till Ischia where, between Heron city and Saint Anne’s mountains, a new economic center called Aenaria (in Latin “aenus” means “bronze” or in Greek “Oinaria” means “the land of wine”) started flourishing.

A port became a crossroad of trading routes from Etruria, Tunisia, and Algeria. Duly appreciating the healing properties of hot springs, Romans became the first people who started to use thermal amenities of the island.
Patrician villas appeared here in the Imperial period. Today the ancient Aenaria is submerged.

During the reign of Emperor Augustus, the Roman regent gave the island to Neapolitans in exchange for his favorite Capri. Since then it cast in its lot with Naples.

During the centuries the island had been under the dominion of Norman, Swabian, Angevine dynasties. In the first half of 15th century the island fell under the influence of Aragoneses. In 15th century Alfonso of Aragon modernized the old fortress by connecting it with the island by means of a stone bridge. Aragonese Castle became the royal residence. Just like the Kingdom of Naples, the island had been under the Spain crown. In 16th century the island was many times attacked by Turkish pirates. Up until now it is possible to see watch-towers designed for recognition of pirate ships throughout its entire territory. Spain garrison was located in special lookout towers.

After the fall of the Spanish in 18th century and up until 1860, the year of the Kingdom of Naples becoming a part of united Italy, Ischia was under the royal Naples Crown.

During the Bourbons’ reign, Aragonese Castle was used as a place for a prison for political prisoners. New roads, waterlines and public facilities were built in 1853, during the reign of Ferdinand II, and that became a great impulse for the development of the island. The lake that appeared at the place of volcanic crater was connected with the sea and became a comfortable harbor that quickly turned to be the main center of connection with the mainland.On the cusp of 18th and 19th centuries the island was involved in peripetias of Napoleon’s wars. In 1799 it became a part of the ephemeral Parthenopean Republic that was defeated by allied Russian-British fleet under command of admirals Ushakov and Nelson. In 1806 the major part of this territory (except for Ischia and Capri) passed to the French. It was only in 1809 when, by the order of King Joachim Murat, the British were expelled from the island. The island was meaninglessly ravaged by soldiers. After the reunion of Italy, Giusepe Garibaldi visited the island with the aim of rest and healing the wounds that he got in battle. 

Eminent Neapolitans built a thermal center in Casamicciola where ordinary people, coming to the island, could use the healing properties of local waters.

Since fifties years of 20th century the island has become a popular place of holidays for a great number of tourists from all over the world.  Forio attracts world-wide famous actors and writers. Lacco Ameno and Ischia have gained world recognition thanks to Milanese entrepreneur Angelo Rizzoli who promoted the development of the island by making a number of unforgettable films such as “Cleopatra” with Elizabeth Taylor. By now more than 69 feature films have been shot on the island.

Royal persons were frequent guests of the thermal SPA. Such people as Nietzsche, Ibsen, Andersen, Morante, Richard Burton, Maria Callas, Charles Chaplin, Clark Gable and many others visited the island. It is considered to be a good form to come to the island. The island has become a favorite holiday place for writers, poets, musicians and representatives of financial and political world.

 
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RELAX TRAVEL & TOURSspacerMarisa Maresca marisa@relaxtraveltours.com
Via Luigi Mazzella 171, 80077 Ischia (Na)
Tel: +39 081 981806; Mobile: +39 3200772396
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