All pictures taken: Ischia, Italy.
Date: August 2007.
Camera: Panasonic DMC-TZ3.
So this time last week we were busy enjoying our last evening in Ischia. It seems like a lifetime ago now.
The holiday was wonderful. I came back feeling relaxed and refreshed and with my batteries recharged, but I do wish we'd been able to stay longer. We simply did not see enough of the island's many sights, although it was never our plan to explore much further than the hotel's pool or the local restaurants.
We did, however, make a special effort to visit the island's most famous landmark: the brooding, picturesque Castello Aragonese (Aragon Castle) that sits atop a large rock formation overlooking the fishing village of Ischia Ponte (where we were based) and is linked to the island by a 220m long bridge built in the 15th century.
Apparently there has been a fortress on this site since 474BC -- originally built by the Greek ruler of Syracuse -- but it's been owned and adapted by a succession of other rulers -- everyone from Romans to Normans -- ever since. It was bombed by the British in the early 19th century, turned into a prison some time later and today is a privately owned tourist attraction comprising a series of ruins, a museum, crypt, wine cellar, several churches and many streets and terraces offering magnificent views across the Bay of Naples and Ischia itself.
A very small lift -- six people at a time!! -- takes you up to the top, but there's also a mule track that winds its way skywards, part of which is excavated through the rock to create a dark, Gothic-like tunnel (see left).
Up top there's certainly a lot to explore, including the Sun Temple (see below) and a rather macabre nun's cemetery which lies below one of the many churches. Here the nuns' corpses would sit upright on stone chairs -- resembling toilets -- so that their body fluids could be gathered in special vases. Charming, eh?
It was incredibly hot when we visited -- at least 36 degrees C -- and with the sun beating down on us, it didn't take long to work up a thirst. There was a very tasteful coffee shop on one level and then, a bit further along, we stumbled upon the most breathtaking place for a restaurant/bar, where we indulged in an ice-cold Italian beer, before exploring further.
Finally, here's a couple of my favourite pictures of the castle, it was truly an amazing place to visit and photograph.