Favorite Quote

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel,
read only one page." St. Augustine of Hippo

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Aragon Castle of Ischia, Italy Part 2

The internet in our hotel has been out for the last 2 days so I haven't been able to continue the blog until now.  So, here's hoping it stays up long enough for me to finish my trip to Ischia.  :)

I am now at stop #11 the Bourbon prison.    According to the information from the castle, the Bourbons of Naples made a prison out of a pre-existing building in 1823.  In 1851 they started sending political prisoners here such as Poerio, Pironti, Nisco, Agresti and many other men of the Italian Risorgimento.  But I looked up information on Alessandro Poerio and Encyclopedia Britannica said that he was imprisoned here in 1815 and died in 1848.  So ..... not sure which to believe.  :)

Next up is stop #12, the olive terrace.  This was once the Castle garden.  It offers a 300 degree view of the Gulf and the sea.  The stronghold rises behind it, but is not open to the public.  The stronghold was rebuilt by Alphonse of Aragon in 1441 as a present for Lucrezia D'Alagno for whom he had fallen in love.  Later, Princess Vittoria Colonna lived there for 35 years.  She escaped from Rome with her father for political reasons when she was 8.  She married Ferrante d'Avalos and drew the greatest artists and "men of letters" from the time to the Castle.  After her husband's death in battle, she moved to various convents around Italy.  She died in Rome and Michelangelo was one of her greatest friends.

I had planned on having a cappuccino at stop #13 which is the Coffee Restaurant "Il Terrazzo" but it was 40 degrees C (104 F) and I just could not even think about anything hot to drink at that point.  So, instead I had several bottles of still water and some pasta.  Here are the views from the terrace.

After leaving the terrace, on my way to stop #14, I stopped to take a few more pictures.

Next up is stop #14, the Church of S. Maria delle Grazie of the Ortodonico.  This church was built at the beginning of the 16th century and was for the fishermen of Ischia.  It overhangs the sea and for this reason it is also known as the church of the Madonna della Punta (Virgin of the Point).

Stop #15 is the ancient watch and defense tower - but for some reason I didn't actually take pictures of the tower.  I think I was enjoying the view too much (and wishing I could jump in the water because it was so hot)!!  Originally access to the tower was from the fortified walls underneath the external staircase.  If you look down (which I didn't do), you can see the remains of the walls, a furnace for making cannon balls red hot and the area of the old Ortodonico field.


Stop # 16 is called "The Footpath of the Sun".  It was one of the main pathways of the Castle.  Here they grew olives, carobs, figs, medlars (a small tree, Mespilus germanica, of the rose family, the fruit of which resembles a crab apple and is not edible until the early stages of decay), pomegranates, Indian figs and ailanthuses (a type of tree from which wood was used to make cabinets).

Stop #17 is the Saint Cristofaro steps.  They led to a small church (that is no longer there) that was dedicated to the saint.

Stop #18 is the Church of the Madonna della Libera.  This was built in the 12th century and it belonged to the Calosirto family.  In 1301, during the last eruption of Epomeo, the people of Ischia made a vow to the Madonna and dedicated the church to her because they believed that the Madonna had saved them from the catastrophe.  She is portrayed with the hands outstretched in the act of blocking the volcanic lava.  The picture is actually a copy of the original that was transferred to the Cathedral of Ischia at the beginning of the 19th century. 

Stop #19 is called Ailanthus alley which was where the Ailanthus trees originally grew (they may actually still grow here but I have no idea what they look like).

Stop #20 is the remains of the temple of Sun.

Stop #21 is the balcony of the temple.  I sure wish I was on one of those boats!

The next 2 pictures are pictures that I took on my way to my next stop.

And now for some reason, I am at stop #1.  The Terrace of the Immacolata faces westward and has a magnificent view of the village of Ischia Ponte and the Spiaggia del Pescatori (Fisherman's beach).  Behind this you can see the summit of Mount Epomeo.

Stop #2 is the Church of the Immacolata.  It was built in 1731 at the direction of Mother Superior Battista Lanfreschi of the adjoining Convent of the Clarisses.  The construction costs, which were very high because of the church's sheer bulk and architectural design was unsustainable for the convent, already heavily in debt.  The convent had to sell their silverware in order to pay for the most immediate costs.  For this reason, the church was never finished and its walls are today completely white.

Right outside of the chapel is stop #6, the cafeteria of the Monastery.  From the garden terrace the tables were immersed among bougainvillea, broom, jasmine and lantana. 

Stop #3 is the Convent of Saint Maria della Consolazione.  It was established in 1575 by Beatrice Quadra and it housed around 40 nuns of the Clarisses' order.  The nuns were mostly first-born daughters of noble families. They were destined for a cloistered life from an early age so that the family estate could be passed down to the family's first male heir.  The convent was closed in 1810 and the 16 remaining nuns relocated first to the palace of the Lanfreschi marquises in Ischia Ponte and then to the convent of Saint Antonio.  They pictures are just of the outside of the convent as I didn't see any doors that were unlocked to see the inside of the convent.

In Part 1 of The Aragon Castle of Ischia I said that I would have some gross pictures in part 2.  I guess the story is grosser than the pictures themselves, unless you are really good at imagining things (which I am).  The next stop is stop #4.  They call this the Nuns' cemetery.  It is situated beneath the church and is made up of a series of areas housing walled draining seats on which the lifeless bodies were placed.  The corpses' flesh slowly decomposed, their fluids were gathered in special vases and finally, the dried-out skeletons were heaped up in the ossuary.  This practice was to emphasize the absolute uselessness of the body.  Every day the nuns would congregate in prayer at this site and meditate on the nature of death and, spending several hours each day in such an unhealthy environment, would often fall victim to disease.  YUCK!

This is the hole where the fluids drained from.

I was very happy to be done here and move onto my last stop #5, Belvedere of the Convent.  It's open on the north-west side and have a view from the village of Ischia Ponte to Porto d'Ishcia.  On haze-free days (this did not happen to be one) you can see the mountains from the mainland.

Finally it was time to head back to Pozzuoli.  I managed to get all 25 stops in, even though I was going out of order.  After a very long hot day I made it back down to the front of the castle.

I took the ferry back to Pozzuoli and Ron took the train down and met me in town for dinner.  There was a flea market going on at the port, with about 20 sellers.  I was so hot and tired I wasn't even interested.  :(

We found a place to eat, but they said they didn't open until 19.00 or 19.30.  WHAT?  They didn't know what time they opened?  Very strange.  So, we walked around until 19.00.

We saw the church, but it was Sunday and a service was going on so we didn't go in.

We saw some hanging fruit and onions.

And went back to the restaurant.  Now they told us they didn't open until 20.30.  So, we found somewhere else.  The food was WONDERFUL and I highly recommend that if you are in Pozzuoli, you come here.

I had "Mixed Formaggio" which is a special of the restaurant.  I thought it would be like Quatro Formaggio but it wasn't.  Ron had his normal which is Diavola with Bufalina.

Here is mine and it was AMAZING:


And the place where we ate:

Then we headed back to the train.  And found a store that reminded us of a very dear friend that lives in Heidelberg (Yes you Tonya!).  :)

She is a shoe Diva!

And one last picture.  This picture was on the train platform.  I was SO hot and tired it made no sense, so I thought I would take a picture of it, and maybe it would make sense later.  Unfortunately, it still makes no sense to me.  :)