Ischia is an enchanting island. It’s the largest of the Phlegrean Islands in Italy and much of what tourists see are the lovely beaches, quiet, tranquil surroundings and the thermal waters. Yet, there are many ancient treasures hidden in plain sight.
While visiting Ischia, staying at my favorite hotel, L’Albergo Regina Isabella, we would walk from the hotel down into Casamicciola or take the moto around the island. We would do this several times a day and each time we would pass the Basilica of Santa Restituta (Piazza Santa Restituta, Lacco Ameno, Ischia). It’s just next door to the hotel and looks like a lovely old church. There’s a sign for the Museo & Scavi Archeologici S. Restituta. Yet, since my beloved, is not one for museums, we would always hurry past this pretty church.
Well, if a girl wants to fly solo, she gets to do things her own way……so, long after he returned to work, I returned to the island to explore this archaeological museum and what a lovely surprise was waiting for me. I entered Basilica S. Restituta and crossed its small courtyard where a lovely old woman took my €3 entry fee. Inside was a bunch of dusty religious garments in glass cases and shards of pottery tossed in among some paintings. Surely, I thought, you get what you pay for – what could I expect for €3?
Ahhhh, to my surprise, the investigative reporter in me, spied a tiny staircase just outside. So, feeling very much like Henrietta Jones, I descended into a labyrinth of wonder. Scavi, archaeological excavations, dating back to neolithic times. Dear Lord, that’s like 13,000 years ago. It was amazing, everything was in place just as archaeologists have found it, in situ. The most moving thing is the ancient necropolis, cemetery, where the graves of many, many children can be seen. Their bodies are still entombed in terracotta urns less than a meter long.
I don’t remember how long I spent down there but I do remember a pleasant surprise around every corner, down every tiny alley. I couldn’t wait to run home and tell the ragazzo…….all of a sudden, in his cute English, he now says “I want to see, I want to see.” Certo……ci vediamo, a presto!
NOTE: To get to Ischia, take the ferry to Ischia Porto. Turn right out of the marina and grab the Number 1 or 2 bus at the bus station on your left. It takes you straight to Lacco Ameno.