If you asked me to pick between Ischia and Capri it would have to be Ischia hands down. With 6 million annual visitors, Ischia is one of the most intriguing popular tourist attractions in Italy. Unlike Capri, it’s much bigger and mountainous which I love. Hitchhiking from one end of the island (port) to the other side (beaches) are some of the happiest memories I have from my vacations there. Nothing I would do any more today…
With a strong German resident population as well as many Eastern European visitors, Ischia thrives on its dynamic tourist trade. The island is easily reached via a forty-five minute ferry ride from Naples. The island is renowned for its natural health spas, its historical attractions and famous cuisine. You can see for yourself by eating at any of the restaurants at the port or in the downtown area.
In 774 B.C. Greece colonized the island and developed a town called Pithecusae. Due to the strategical location of the town, it survived the volcanic eruptions of the area between 770 and 350 B.C. As a result, the area has long been valuable as an archeological site. Evidence suggests the existence of a structured society that underwent periods of success and decline.
In these early eras, the rise and fall of Ischia can be directly linked to the rise and fall of Cumae, an ancient Greek settlement lying northwest of Naples in the region of Campania. As Cumae flourished, it was often at the expense of Pithecusae.
In 474 B.C. Hieron of Syracuse allied with the Cumaens to defeat the Etruscans. After the victory, Hieron occupied and fortified Ischia in order to establish a first line of defense.
In 420 B.C. Cumae and most of the Campania region was overrun by the Oscans. Only Neapolis (Naples) was able to repel the invaders. Ischia fell under the governance and protection of Naples and was able to preserve its Greek heritage for three centuries. The most important industry on the island was its renowned ceramic trade. Still visible today in most of its tourist shops today.
A series of volcanic eruptions interrupted the island’s vibrant economy. The Roman Empire controlled Ischia from the first century B.C. until the fourth century A.D. Uneasiness about the geological stability of the island prevented it from gaining Roman favor. When the Roman Empire declined, Naples, Ischia and Campania were besieged by barbarians.
Near the end of the 5th century, Germanic populations began to dominate the island. In 813, the island was freed by the navy of Sorrento. Ischia then fell back under the rule of Naples for more than 200 years. Through numerous occupations, the island continued to be most influenced by Naples although during the 16th century Alfonso of Aragon initiated many construction projects that still remain today.
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About the Author: Gabriella Sannino has held positions as a marketing consultant, web designer and copywriter throughout her career before opening Level 343, a SEO copywriting company. She lives in the US with her family but still holds an Italian citizenship. Her passions in brand building through social media, marketing techniques and writing strong copy that converts are all part of the strategy. She fancies herself as an Italian rocker, rebel and SEO geek. Her passions include everything Italian, especially Naples. The fact she loves singing old Neapolitan songs in the shower or while cooking are what keep her grounded. See all of Gabriella Sannino’s Articles on Napoli Unplugged.