1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ischia

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23123911911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 14 — IschiaThomas Ashby

ISCHIA (Gr. Πιθηκοῦσα, Lat. Aenaria, in poetry Inarime), an island off the coast of Campania, Italy, 16 m. S.W. of Naples, to the province of which it belongs, and 7 m. S.W. of the Capo Miseno, the nearest point of the mainland. Pop. about 20,000. It is situated at the W. extremity of the Gulf of Naples, and is the largest island near Naples, measuring about 19 m. in circumference and 26 sq. m. in area. It belongs to the same volcanic system as the mainland near it, and the Monte Epomeo (anc. Ἐπωπεύς, viewpoint), the highest point of the island (2588 ft.), lies on the N. edge of the principal crater, which is surrounded by twelve smaller cones. The island was perhaps occupied by Greek settlers even before Cumae; its Eretrian and Chalcidian inhabitants abandoned it about 500 B.C. owing to an eruption, and it is said to have been deserted almost at once by the greater part of the garrison which Hiero I. of Syracuse had placed there about 470 B.C., owing to the same cause. Later on it came into the possession of Naples, but passed into Roman hands in 326, when Naples herself lost her independence. The ancient town, traces of the fortifications of which still exist, was situated near Lacco, at the N.W. corner of the island. Augustus gave it back to Naples in exchange for Capri. After the fall of Rome it suffered attacks and devastations from the successive masters of Italy, until it was finally taken by the Neapolitans in 1299.

Several eruptions are recorded in Roman times. The last of which we have any knowledge occurred in 1301, but the island was visited by earthquakes in 1881 and 1883, 1700 lives being lost in the latter year, when the town of Casamicciola on the north side of the island was almost entirely destroyed. The hot springs here, which still survive from the period of volcanic activity, rise at a temperature of 147° Fahr. and are alkaline and saline; they are much visited by bathers, especially in summer. They were known in Roman times, and many votive altars dedicated to Apollo and the nymphs have been found. The whole island is mountainous, and is remarkable for its beautiful scenery and its fertility. Wine, corn, oil and fruit are produced, especially the former, while the mountain slopes are clothed with woods. Tiles and pottery are made in the island. Straw-plaiting is a considerable industry at Lacco; and a certain amount of fishing is also done. The potter’s clay of Ischia served for the potteries of Cumae and Puteoli in ancient times, and was indeed in considerable demand until the catastrophe at Casamicciola in 1883.

The chief towns are Ischia on the E. coast, the capital and the seat of a bishop (pop. in 1901, town, 2756; commune, 7012), with a 15th-century castle, to which Vittoria Colonna retired after the death of her husband in 1525; Casamicciola (pop. in 1901, town, 1085; commune, 3731) on the north, and Forīo on the west coast (pop. in 1901, town, 3640; commune, 7197). There is regular communication with Naples, both by steamer direct, and also by steamer to Torregaveta, 2 m. W.S.W. of Baiae and 121/2 m. W.S.W. of Naples, and thence by rail.

See J. Beloch, Campanien (Breslau, 1890), 202 sqq. (T. As.)