Saturday, April 27, 2013

Picturesque Ischia di Castro

Loggia attributed to Antonio da Sangallo  the younger   
It was a bright, sunny Saturday  when we drove  north towards Lake Bolsena  to attend a conference  held in the icy cold  main hall of a castle  under restoration.  
view from the Rocca 
  When the drafts (and the long-winded speakers) became unbearable I escaped to the sun filled piazza to wander through  the narrow streets  of the oldest part of Ischia di Castro, the part the local residents call “di dentro”.

beyond the Duomo  begins "di dentro " 

Farnese lily  and laundry crown this portal
Lilies  (or iris) carved above many of  Ischia’s doorways remind us that this was  once  a Farnese stronghold.

 The huge Rocca Farnese, designed by Vignola,  was one of the first  “homes” of the Farnese. As they rose to power family members commissioned other Farnese palaces including the fabulous Palazzo now the French Embassy in Rome and the   pentagonal palace in Caprarola.  

stairway to the Rocca 

Under the Rocca’s shadow lies a labyrinth of tiny  lanes hung with  drying laundry. 
Cats snooze in the sun  and   keys   are left dangling in the door locks.  

 Inside a former bread oven/ cantina  we met a bee keeper preparing  his beehives.
wine cask transformed into bar 

a wicker baby carriage  pre-WWII

in the magazzino 
Comparable  to  a cellar or garage, the magazzino  is where families store discarded furniture, old bottles, the wine supply and anything else  not urgently needed in the home.

 Visiting a family’s magazzino  or cantina  shows what happens in a country where garage sales do not exist.  After  a few generations  the old cast offs  have become  antiques.   

Ischia   is   one of the less well known of Viterbo province’s   60 towns, each  with its own  personality and history.
 A stroll through the picturesque historic center is a perfect  respite from the stress of modern city life.

curious cats  
During summer  Ischia becomes more cosmopolitan for many of the  modest houses have been purchased as holiday homes  by  Romans wishing to escape the Eternal City‘s stifling heat.

conversation corner 
 There is also a small foreign community appreciative of the town's laid back lifestyle and inexpensive real estate.

shrine connecting two buildings 

Fascist period  doorhandles  and Cactus Madonna 

Excellent  food at honest prices 
entrance to Gigiotto trattoria

pappardelle al cinghiale 

Where to eat  in Ischia di Castro? Definitely  Gigiotto, on the main piazza. 
 Do you have a favorite small town in Italy? 
Hope you share with friends  (use the  icons here below)and add a comment.    


  1. Great photographs and captions - makes one mouth water and start working the options to come and stay for an extended period of time. Thanks for the consistent write-ups, history and local color.


  2. Thanks Paul..I had to have a plate of fettuccine al sugo di cinghiale for dinner after I finished writing this.
    It was good, but not as good as that in the photo...notice the vapor hovering over the plate.

  3. ottimo! Mi piaciono molto anche le sfumature colte nelle foto per trasmettere lo spirito del "colore" locale. Cari saluti

  4. Grazie Patrizia...non sei tu nella prima foto? sulla loggia?

  5. You never fail to be an entertaining wealth of information Mary Jane! Another great post. As you well know my favorite small town would have to be Vetralla in Italy for the outstanding day and with you and your dear Fulvio and Guilia!! The day with you in Vetralla felt like I was dropped into an Italian dream!I look forward to coming and exploring more in the future, you may grow quite tired of me!Ciao!

  6. Just received from the owner of the castello, about who built it:
    "The traditional attribution is to Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane – around 1525 – on a more ancient Farnese Palace
    Pierluigi Farnese son of Paolo III sign a letter on 1527 "Dal mio Palazzo di Ischia".
    Ranuccio il vecchio, grand father of Paolo III, is born and died in the palazzo di Ischia"
    Thank you Stefano, for the correction.l will make changes as soon as possible