Museums of Ischia
VILLA ARBUSTO AND THE DAWN OF MAGNA GRECIA
The Arbusto hill has an archaeological value of its own, dating back to the Greek period, given its panoramic position. In the 17th century, a farmhouse was located there and some time later, in 1785, it became the property of the Abruzzese nobleman Carlo d’Acquaviva, Duke of Atri, who built two villas, a portico and gardens. It was in 1952, when it was Angelo Rizzoli who elevated it to the rank of summer residence (in which he would host personalities from the worlds of cinema, culture and politics), that the Arbusto – which covers 12,000 square metres – became even more evocative, especially in its vast park. Then the Rizzoli heirs decided to put it up for sale, and the municipality (with the then mayor Vincenzo Mennella in the lead) succeeded in acquiring it for public ownership, in order to house the museum.
The museum is divided into themed rooms ranging from Prehistory (Middle Upper Neolithic, Bronze Age), to Prehistory (Iron Age); then the Greek colony of Pithecusae and the necropolis; Pithecusae from the 6th to the 4th century B.C. and Pithecusae in the Hellenistic age, and finally Ischia in the Roman age. With the archaeological museum of Pithecusae, the mythical Dawn of Magna Graecia has become a visible testimony. The rooms in the main building of the villa therefore ‘contain’ the most significant finds from the settlement founded by the Greeks from Euboea, in the second quarter of the eighth century BC, among the first in the western Mediterranean. The people of central Italy borrowed the alphabet from the Greeks of Pithecusa, as evidenced by the three-verse epigram engraved after baking on a famous cup that alludes, in Euboic, to the famous Cup of Nestor described in the Iliad. Glimpses of a time of intense trade and strong political importance that only began to decline after the development of Cumae on the mainland. All in all, it is a museum that adds to the archaeological imagination of the Gulf of Naples, and represents an important moment, because a whole story of culture began and ended happily. ever since Giorgio Buchner, a serious and meticulous German, began to pursue a dream.
And great indeed was the human adventure of Giorgio Buchner who, in 1952, threw his heart over the hurdle and began to scratch under the hill of San Montano, with Joshua, the trusty worker, in search of an extraordinary past.
The post-war period: these were difficult years for archaeology; Pompeii had been bombed; research had no resources. Amedeo Maiuri gave space to the young Buchner, who stubbornly managed to obtain some funding from America, added his own funds and, later, also from the state, until the goal was reached. Giosuè Ballirano was the head of the workers who excavated the finds from Pithecusae, and his aide-de-camp was Giuseppe Simonelli: they were able to perceive moment by moment the hidden and vibrant joy of the great master, who was shy and never complacent about his extraordinary successes, even while the long opening ceremony of the museum was taking place.
Quite a few years have already passed. But this is an image we will never forget.
SANTA RESTITUTA EXCAVATION MUSEUM
The extraordinary tenacity of Don Pietro Monti, who is remembered as a priest and archaeologist at the same time, a leading figure in Ischian culture (he continued to work and study until a very old age), allowed the gradual transformation of this excavation area into a museum entity in its own right, right under the church of Santa Restituta.
Indeed, of the church-pinacotheque, the museum is a continuation. It covers an area of 1,500 square metres and on the upper level comprises six rooms, including the ex-voto room (Sacristy), which is very rich in artefacts. The archaeological area, on the other hand, through its stratigraphy allows direct contact with the ancient periods: the Early Christian, Roman, Hellenistic, and Attic-Euboic. The museum is located in Piazza Santa restituita in Lacco Ameno.
TORRIONE CIVIC MUSEUM
It is the only anti-pirate tower open to the public. It rises behind the blocks of flats sloping down towards the port of Forio. The Torrione was built at the expense of the University in the first half of the 16th century: it was equipped with many cannons, pointed out to sea, which were used several times to bombard Saracen ships.
Until 1787, one of the cannons remained in use as a sign of festivity, during religious celebrations. Transformed into a prison, from the end of the 19th century, the Torrione then housed the sculptor Giovanni Maltese, who died in 1913. The civic museum, which houses the works donated to the municipality by Maltese’s wife, the English painter Fanny Jane Fayrer, is named after the versatile Forio artist, intellectual and poet. The museum is located in Via del Torrione in Forio d’Ischia.
FARMERS’ MUSEUM AT D’AMBRA VINI – OENOLOGICAL ESTABLISHMENT
The wine culture is more than a thousand years old and already predates the Greek settlement (756 BC). D’Ambra vini has opened this museum in its winery, covering an area of 300 square metres, which brings to life precisely the farming culture that has characterised the landscape of Ischia.
The museum is conceived more as a place for historical-scientific analysis, presenting valuable maps and surveys, as well as very precise descriptions of the overall evolution of the island, than as a collection of materials, for which it aimed to develop research on the territory and, therefore, the concept of a territorial museum. The museum is located in the locality of Panza, in Forio d’Ischia
MUSEUM OF THE SEA
Three floors, in the old tower building with the clock overlooking the ancient village of Ponte, which tell, in the intriguing vertical succession of rooms, the story of Ischia’s seafaring industry through precious artefacts and unique materials taken from the daily life of fishermen.
Signs that tell of the exploits of the captains of the last sailing ships, many of which transported barrels with Ischia wine around the ports of the Mediterranean. A fascinating and unmissable story that definitively links (seawater) to… wine. The museum is located in the Palazzo dell’Orologio on Ischia Ponte.
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