Ischia, the Green Island, between myths and legends: one of the pearls of the Mediterranean.

Like every other islander in the world, I have a deep and intimate connection with my island.. An island is a kind of heterotopic place, a place external to other places. Ischia, like the rest of the islands, thrive thanks to crises that lead to renewal. It has been so since time immemorial and so it will continue to be.

Imagine, after all, the context. Green island, resort island, island of the Greek colonization of the Mediterranean, island of the Grand Tour of the nineteenth century, island of love, island of good food, island of cinema, island of Visconti, island of Rizzoli, Spanish island: many different definitions that add up to a complex realitycapable of maintaining its distinct identity despite constant change.

From my point of view, Ischia is first and foremost a home..
Memories, family, friends, love. Every corner of this rock – as we, the inhabitants of Ischia, define it, containing admiration and contempt at the same time – has contributed to the formation of my personality, my way of knowing the world and relating to it.

Ischia is undoubtedly also a tourist destination.. But not only that. The island of 47 square kilometers has 107 different thermal springs, among which Nitrodi stands out, a spring already used by the Romans, who probably built a small temple here, as evidenced by 12 marble reliefs kept in the Archaeological Museum of Naples. and the Hermitage of St. Petersburg. Defining this case as unique seems like an oversimplification, especially when you consider the range of therapeutic and curative properties that the sources offer.

Well-being in Ischia is in the very DNA of the something that accompanies you from childhood, that in a certain way binds you to the island, pushes you back, almost as if every islander, unconsciously, is a modern Ulysses who longs to return to his Ithaca.

Indeed, in Ischia, myths and legends are blurred.. It is said that the tomb of the giant Typhon is located on the island, who dared to challenge Zeus, was defeated and was buried here. What is certain is that this island of the Campania archipelago has a multi-layered history associated with many turning points in history, both ancient and modern.

Gerone di Siracura seems to have built the first version of what we know today as the “Castle of Aragon”, the undisputed symbol of the the 5th century BC It was an attempt to establish dominance over Pitekussay, the island of monkeys, which at that time in its history had already existed for a couple of centuries as a Greek trading port in the Mediterranean.

Within the same walls built two millennia later by Alfonso I of Aragon., who built the current Aragonese castle, the magnificent poetess Vittoria Colonna stayed there. We owe her another legend of the island: a secret romance with Michelangelo Buonarroti. It is said that the “Divine Artist” reached it from the tower of the same name in Cartaromana Bay through a supposed underwater tunnel. A legend of love – rejected, please, by historiography – which nonetheless embodies part of the spirit of the island.

Ischia was a mandatory destination for the nineteenth century Grand Tour., as evidenced by the writings, poems, stories, paintings of some of the greatest artists and thinkers of that time. However, tourism as an industry in Ischia was actually invented in the 1950s by Angelo Rizzoli. And it’s also a love story.

He arrived here on his yacht Sereno.. He was fascinated by the wild beauty of the island and began to invest crazy amounts in it. He turned it into an island of the international elite, a destination for movie and music stars that could outshine even the more famous Capri for twenty years, and a popular filming location, a feature that continues today.
A much more poignant love story is associated with the feast of Sant’Anna, the saint of pregnant women, which Ischia celebrates every 26 July with an allegorical parade on the sea and the burning of the castle. Indeed, it seems that the tourists asked the sailors to escort them to the rocks of Sant’Anna as a vow to get pregnant. They went alone, unaccompanied by their husbands. And after a while the “miracle” happened. Hence the proverb, according to which in Ischia you eat, drink and whistle.

The 1950s and the tourist boom are also at the heart of the island we know today, with all its many contradictions.. Growing anthropic pressure has exposed the mistake that was made in the 1980s when a small Mediterranean island became a city. Here lies the origin of many problems, including illegal construction, a national phenomenon linked to the tragic amnesty season that has now engulfed the island and which, with malice and bad faith, are pointed out as the provoking factors of the tragedies that have occurred. island.

However, Ischia, as I like to say, is a laboratory., the results of which are inevitably reflected in the rest of Italy. For example, the fight against plastic began long before this topic became a hot topic thanks to the decisions of the European Parliament. The first step was taken in 2016 when I was mayor of Ischia. However, in 2019, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the island’s six municipalities for a final tender.

Also in Ischia, another model of tourism began to be created., which is increasingly focusing on quality rather than quantity. Ischia experienced its peak, at least quantitatively, between the 90s and the beginning of the new millennium, when it averaged 5 million visitors a year. Now the paradigm is changing, and the credit goes to the new generations, those digital natives who have completed their studies and are now entering the labor market offering new perspectives, new skills, new knowledge.

This is only the beginning of a journey designed to revive the Green Island.. I promised this during the electoral campaign when I presented myself as mayor of Casamicciola Terme. Yes, it is here, where nature has collapsed with all its fury, destroying lives and things, that we are planning a new model of the island. We want it to be green, and we do it by planting trees, restoring and maintaining forests and trails, offering hydrogen and electricity conversions in both private and public transport. We do this by restoring the identity of a thermal island that can offer beauty and tranquility without giving up entertainment, parties on the beach or in the pine forest. We do this with a focus on culture, history, food, wine and music.

We do this by improving the sea and our marine protected area, Neptune’s Realm. which in a decade contributed to the enormous settlement of our seas. We do this by restoring historic buildings such as Pio Monte della Misericordia, where we aim to create, in agreement with some universities, a university center by the sea, or by restoring Antice Terme Bellazzi, the oldest on the island, where Ferdinand II of Bourbon is.

This is a collective, impressive effort that involves all of the inhabitants of the island.. Because this is what happens on the islands: renewal comes from the crisis. Because in the end it doesn’t matter that Ischia is not Ibiza. Ischia is a one of a kind pearl of the Mediterranean. And she deserves unconditional love, as she has always done throughout her history.

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