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The Phlegraean Islands - Campania

This group of islands (province of Naples) created by powerful underwater-volcanoes includes Ischia, Procida and the uninhabited Vivara. They were colonised in the VIII century B.C. by Greek sailors who began rich trades with their countries of origin and gave birth to flourishing markets (especially in lschia). The first name of the island was Greek Pitecusa and this name remained for a long period. After the Roman age came the Kingdom of Naples followed by Norman, Suevian, Angevin, Aragonese and Bourbon periods.

The history of these islands is therefore very old, but also closely linked to the geologic youth that on one hand created the lively and fascinating sea-scenery of all the islands and lschia's renowned baths and rich vegetation, but on the other hand also caused the past earthquakes, eruptions and deep changes in the landscape. Despite their ancient history, the islands did not preserve many important medieval or archaeological traces. In the case of Procida, this is due to its being a satellite-island, whereas in the case of lschia the answer seems to lie in the island being first covered by lava and then by buildings. In the specific case of Ischia there also seems to be a myth about a city called Aenaria. Today only its name still remains. Its position is not known (maybe near Ischia Ponte), nor the reason of its disappearance, apparently caused by a bradyseism.

Ischia

The rich Mediterranean vegetation and the big pine-woods gave Ischia the name of "green island, while its extolled baths make it the 'island of well-being'. Its 46.5 km2 make it the largest Phlegraean island. It lies about 15 miles from the continent, 5.5 miles from Procida and 19 miles from Capri, Its highest point is Monte Epomeo with a maximum altitude of 787 metres.The principal attraction of this island are its baths and its everchanging landscape: visitors never tire of admiring it and find new environments each time they return. The many hot springs gushing out at high, medium and even cold temperatures are rich in minerals and have helped people for centuries in curing illnesses. The excellent level and variety of its tourist facilities place Ischia among the most exclusive Mediterranean destinations.The most important hotels are equipped with private facilities for thermal therapy, mud baths and beauty treatments. There are 6 villages and towns on the island: Ischia (divided into Ischia Ponte and Ischia Porto), Barano d'Ischia, Casamicciola Terme, Forio, Lacco Ameno and Serrara Fontana (includes Sant'Angelo).

 
Procida

This isle measuring less than 4 km2 is known as the girlfriend of the sea' and is the Italian island with the highest population density. Procida is connected to the small island of Vivara by a bridge. The built-up area centres around the islands very lively and busy harbour (Marina Grande and Sancio Cattolico) and at the foot of the hill where the first houses were built. The first settlement was given the very significant name of Terra Murata (walled up land) and built in a position that defended it from the attacks of the Saracens. At a later time the acquired tranquillity enabled the island to look for new spaces both in the southern area of Chiaiolella and in the countryside. The island's history follows that of the nearby Ischia: it was inhabited by the Greeks and Romans; from the VIII century it was repeatedly attacked by the Saracens; finally it was included in the kingdom of Naples. It has a great sailing tradition: its ships have crossed all the seas of the world, its dockyards have always had an excellent reputation and its men (be they commanders or only sailors) have always proved their bravery or skill. A series of roads enables the tourist to visit even the most isolated spots. Distances are relatively short, which is why we suggest you visit the island on foot or by bicycle.

 
Vivara

This is what remains of an underwater crater. Its emerging cone has been attacked and demolished by the waves and the winds. It is a small 34-hectare half-moon-shaped island with only a 3-kilometre coastline. This uninhabited island has become a national park to protect its geographic features, its original vegetation and, principally, its migratory and permanent avifauna. A little less than 200 migratory bird species have been recorded, and this extraordinary richness also helps to explain the existence of a hunting lodge built in 1681. Obviously, all types of hunting is strictly forbidden on Vivara. A bridge supporting the aqueduct of Procida and Ischia that crosses the few meters of sea separating Santa Margherita Vecchia from Chiaiolella di Procida and Punta della Carcara was built in 1969. Today, the bridge is used as ground-connection between Vivara and Procida.

Food & Wine
There is a great number of restaurants and pizzerias serving local specialities such as fish-soup, prickly lettuce pizza and "coluccio" bread. The local cuisine is excellent: try the exquisite dishes based on fish, rabbit cooked in hundreds of different ways and the delicious citrus salad seasoned with oil, mint and capsicum. The famous wine "Falerno" and Ischia's other delicious wines represent the best of Campania's wine selection.

 

For more information:

EPT Napoli - Local Tourist Board
P-zza dei Martiri, 58 - 80121 Napoli ITALY
 
www.eptnapoli.info/home.asp

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