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Forio d'Ischia, Province of Napoli, Campania

Forio, better known as Forio d'Ischia, pronounced forìo with an accented "i", is the commune with the largest area on the island, though Ischia is more populous.

The architecture of the place is very interesting, with Saracen influences and many sighting towers along the coast. The historical center is especially enchanting, with its narrow lanes, painters' workshops and ceramic workers, and the surroundings are absolutely fascinating, with the many beaches around small bays, the natural thermal pools among volcanic rocks and gardens with luxuriant Southern Mediterranean vegetation.

Info

  • Population: about 17,800 inhabitants in 2017
  • Zip/postal code: 80075 (Forio), 80070 (Panza)
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 081
  • Patron Saint: St. Vito, celebrated on 15 June
  • Frazioni & Localities: Cuotto, Panza

History

According to Giulio Jasolino, one of the most famous Neapolitan doctors of the 16th century, the name Forìo derives from "Fiorio" as it flourished after the destruction of other centers; another etymology derivea the toponym from the Greek phòros (= fertile). A legend tells that a feudal lord, tired of living in the Aragonese castle of Ischia with four thousand people, said "Fuori io" (=Me out) and went to found a new center on the other side of the island.

Forio was repeatedly invaded by the Saracens, who left their signs in the local architecture. From 1938 to 1945 it was aggregated to the municipality of Ischia, together with the other municipalities of the island. In the 1950s many artists from all over the world started to gather here as their "buen retiro", attracted by the beauty of the place and friendliness of the residents.

What to see

  • The tower called Torrione, built in 1480,with a ground floor used as weapons storage, and the upper floor there was the soldiers' accommodation, with a terrace provided with four cannons. 16 similar fotresses were built between 1480 and 1700, plus five more towers in the district of Panza, many of which today are mainly private houses. The Torrione has a municipal Museum on the lower floor, while the upper floor, formerly the house of artist Giovanni Maltese, is now an art gallery hosting his pictures and sculptures collection.
  • The church of Soccorso, dedicated to "Santa Maria della neve" (Saint Mary of the snow), built on a steep promontory, which is with the Torrione the symbol of the town of Forio and one of the most original sights on the Island of Ischia. Founded as an Augustinian convent in about 1350, it took its present form in 1864. The church is accessible climbing 20 steps of piperno stone (a typical magmatic rock), and has in front an atrium with 5 crosses also in piperno. Its white facade is all decorated with 18th-century majolicas representing saints and scenes from the Passion of Christ.
  • The park of Villa La Mortella, originally the property of the English composer William Walton, who lived in the Villa with his wife from 1946 and hired a botanical expert from England to lay out the garden, planting wonderful tropical and Mediterranean plants, some of which have reached amazing proportions.

Where to stay