The village of Ischia Ponte
The little houses, the colourful cottages, the fishermen’s houses with geraniums and basil on the windowsills. The massive palaces, the residences of the aristocrats with secret gardens one can glimpse beyond the courtyard.
Black iron gratings interrupting white-washed walls, large terraces overlooking the sea, tiny balconies, alleys as thin as a woollen thread, and the wide flagstone street reaching the foot of the Aragonese Castle.
Ischia Ponte is a place of huge contrasts.
Light contrasts: the pale dawns, the sun playing with water and the never-violated shadows of the side pathways. Size contrasts: the “giant order” of the Castle and the doll’s houses of the Piazzale delle alghe, the old shops where you enter one at a time and the generous width of the Cathedral nave or of the church of the Spirito Santo.
Ischia Ponte is a place of history, because it is one of the oldest villages of the island of Ischia. A flat strip of land beneath the hills of Soronzano and Cartaromana spreading out to the sea, a strip of land, looking towards the mystical east, that in the Middle Ages was already a lively outpost to the citadel par excellence, the Aragonese Castle. When the name of Ischia Ponte was “Borgo di Celsa”, due to the high number of mulberry trees (“gelsi” in Italian), its inhabitants were mainly fishermen and seamen who for their work had to stay in direct contact with the sea.
They were in fact forced to forego the safety of living on the impregnable Castle: there, the land was cultivated, but the fish? the fish were at Borgo di Celsa. By dint of fatigue and nights on the sea, the small cluster of houses among the mulberry trees grew up and slowly edifices, churches and hospitals were built.
When the pirate forays ceased, even the people living in the Castle found it easier not to climb the steps any more and live in Ischia Ponte. Today Ischia Ponte bears the marks of its past, the “difficult” one and the happy one, and it is precisely this unceasing counterpoint that makes it a site with a strong and unmistakable historical identity.