The Aragonese Castle
This huge cliff, celebrated by Ludovico Ariosto and inhabited by Vittoria Colonna, represents the emblem itself of the Island of Ischia, due to its extraordinary beauty.
If castles are fascinating, the Aragonese Castle of Ischia is even more mysterious, as it stands out of the sea, detached from the rest of the island. But it maintains a strong bond with the island, which goes beyond the bridge – umbilical cord that connects it physically to Ischia Ponte. Its old name was “insula minor”, matched with insula major, which clearly indicates that it is a different place, a small island beside the mother island. But it was precisely its further insularity that allowed the Castle to keep the genius loci, the historical identity of a wider territory. Most of the events, the battles and Ischian courtly life took place here, on top of this cliff in the middle of the sea, and this can be perceived also by whoever does not know its history. It is enough to cast a glance at the Aragonese Castle to feel like being back in time, in the dreamlike Middle Ages or in a Renaissance coterie, periods that have left more than a trace here.
The ancient walls, the churches, the ramparts of Ischia Castle were built mainly between the 14th and 17th centuries. They blend perfectly with the islet’s dark and indented rock-face, which is also an extraordinary tower garden. When climbing up the Castle, in fact, you discover another world. The austere and closed aspect one beholds from the ground gives way to a citadel made up of sunny gardens and small tracks that always lead to incredible views. The Castle top smiles, animated by sea birds and big cats, olive groves and vineyards. In spite of its reputation, the Castle has today a heart that can be conquered by everybody who climbs its 113 metres by foot or by elevator.
But only when you are on the top can you enter Ischia’s history.
Cocooned in the mystery of time, you will find the 16th-century cathedrals and churches, frescoed catacombs, arches and vaults, walls of many centuries, Bourbon prisons. The silence of the Castle speaks with words in the shape of architecture, like a giant stone book to leaf through with no hurry.
The Tower of Guevara
Is the symbol of Ischia, along with the Castello. It majestically rises in front of the Castello, immersed in an immense green field, a few meters away from the very famous “Scogli di S. Anna” (The Saint Anna rocks).
The Torre di Guevara (commonly called the ‘Torre di Michelangelo’ or the ‘Torre di S. Anna’) is a many-towered house built on the eastern stretch of the island’s coast which looks upon the Castello (the natural result of telluric commotion dating back to the 2nd century A.D. which was completely fortified by Alfonso d’Aragona in 1433 when he pre-arranged and solicited with an organized measure the construction of towers along stretches of the adjacent coast so as to protect the little island).
Within the context of serving as a building for defence, the Torre di Guevara was also a house-fortress, the owners being the Guevara family—dukes of Bovino—right up until the early 1800s. But of Vittoria Colonna on the Castello d’Ischia and Michelangelo’s friendship with the noble castle-dweller have recently substantiated, along with the unfounded belief that Michelangelo had sojourned in the Torre Guevara (an ideal stationing for a ‘loving correspondence’ with his lover), a new, improper name for the building: the Torre di Michelangelo. In fact, in an attempt to confirm the presence of Michelangelo’s presence in Ischia this name has obscured another toponymy— an accredited one—theTorre di S. Anna”, This name is due to the presence of a little church dedicated to Sant’Anna on this very site. The Torre di S.Anna was the designation used when the Guevara family abandoned the building. In fact, Torre di S.Anna was also the name used throughout the cartography of the 1800s.
The building is composed of three levels above the ground, the first floor having a scarp wall which ends with a bull made of live rock. The tower has a square layout and its geometry consists of openings bordered with texture weavings made of thick volcanic rock; this contributes to its accent of marked and intentional sobriety that translates into an image of refined and sophisticated elegance. It has become known as a significant work of the Neapolitan Renaissance.