The Beauty of Living on an Island: I Present you Ischia

Very often teachers say: “Divide a page of your notebook into a column. On the right you write about the advantages of living in the city and on the left, you write about the advantages of living in the country.”

Student Commentary

By Annalucia Scotto di Clemente /Matthew Staff || Edited by Amber Alexander

Photo by Studio Voyager 

Generally, it is usual to talk about the difference between living in the city and in the countryside. Even at school, they create their own and real activities on this topic. Very often teachers say: “Divide a page of your notebook into a column. On the right you write about the advantages of living in the city and on the left, you write about the advantages of living in the country.” 

Has it ever happened to you? To me, yes, so many times. Just think, for as long as I did the English B1 certification exam I was asked to explain this difference. But today I want to tell you a little secret. Humans and nature have not only created the countryside and the city but have also created other wonderful places: the islands. When I speak of islands, I am not referring only to Hawaii, Ibiza, Formentera or the Bahamas, but also to smaller islands that are rich in history, culture, love, tradition, and good food. 

Surely most of you know Amalfi, Capri, and Sorrento. These are just some of the islands surrounding the Gulf of Naples and are among the most sought, after destinations by tourists from around the world every year. In addition to these beautiful islands, there is also another island in the Gulf of Naples. This island is called Ischia and is for me, among the most beautiful and magical places in the world. Ischia is the place where I grew up; it’s the place where my family and friends live; it’s the place where I will return in a few days for the Christmas holidays; it’s the place that made me know the man of my life; it’s the place where I ate the best hot croissants at dawn and is the place that gave me the most important sunsets of my life. 

Ischia is a rather quiet island. It is divided into six municipalities: Ischia, Casamicciola, Lacco Ameno, Forio, Serrara Fontana, and Barano. Each municipality has its own traditions, its own dialect, its own festivals, and its own monument of which to be proud. It is an island that seems small, but really is very large, and it is easy to get lost between the streets and alleys passing from one municipality to another. 

Of course, however, I cannot deny that living on an island brings its difficulties. Especially for a teenager, it is not easy to accept what the island offers you and very often you have the desire to go away and build your own future elsewhere. This is because the islands have limitations, and this is also because of the state which allocates to them a minimum quota for their improvement or maintenance. In Ischia, for example, there are no malls. There are not even big chain stores like Zara or H&M, big fast-food chains like Mc Donald’s and Burger King, and there are not even amusement parks where to spend a fun afternoon. But that’s not all. Unfortunately, in Ischia there are not all types of high schools and there are not even universities. An inhabitant of the island cannot move in the city without first taking a ferry or a hydrofoil that take him to Naples and just because of the presence of the sea is easy with the bad weather that the roads flood. For all these reasons, it is easy for a young person looking for their own way to feel trapped on an island and want to escape. That’s what I did. I’ve always wanted to leave, to build my future in the city and to raise my future children in the city. But since I’ve lived in the city, I’ve realized I don’t really like it that much. Rome is chaotic, noisy and dirty. Rome is a city where everything goes fast, where time seems to pass faster and faster without respecting our plans and where nothing is like the previous day. 

Ischia instead is an island that lives mainly in summer from May to September. In this period all the hotels are open, the thermal parks are open every day and ready to offer days of relaxation, wellness, sun, and fun. Also, the restaurants and bars open numerous, and the streets of the villages are filled with tables where you can eat by the sea. Not to mention the beaches and the crystal-clear sea that surrounds them. The sun sets at nine in the evening and seeing a sunset from the beach is among the most beautiful and simple things you can do in life. 

Trust me, I am not here to put in column the advantages or disadvantages of Ischia or Rome. I simply felt the need to present a part of myself to you and share with you a lesson that I have learned in recent months: the importance of roots.  

I never understood the beauty of my island until I left. Sometimes when they asked me where I was, I answered around Naples for fear that nobody would know my island or that they would make fun of me. Today, however, I respond with pride to be of Ischia, and I invite you, dear listeners, to be proud of your roots. Every place has its own history, and we are the ones to record it with the passing of the years. The place where we lived until a few months ago saw us grow, fall and rise. It was the background of our first kisses, the refuge of our first cries, and it seemed to us the most beautiful place in the world the first time we went dancing. 

Ischia is my home, my childhood place where I keep all my memories. I feel so fortunate to have a home where I can keep my indelible memories because some people have no home and no memories. Unfortunately, last 26th of November a landslide from Mount Epomeo destroyed dozens of houses and put an end to the lives of eleven people who died trapped between the collapsed walls of their homes and the mud. Among these victims there were also children, including one of only 21 days. It was a tragedy that brought the entire island community to its knees.  

If after everything I told you, you would ask me to describe Ischia I would describe it as an island folded in to two by pain. I would describe it as an island where there are no Christmas lights along the streets but meters and meters of mud with cars, trees, objects, and everything that the landslide has dragged with it. I would describe it as an island that has turned grey, but you have never completely lost your light. This is because Ischia is an island of hearts that join without hesitation. Immediately after the landslide, students, men and women came together to clean the streets, to cook, and look after those who no longer have a home or to entertain the children given the closure of schools. 

Many people such as journalists, television personalities, politicians, and even people who do not have a decisive role in society have blamed this tragedy on abusive practices. According to them, more houses were built on the island than could be constructed. But it never seems to me that any landslide in history has been caused by “abusiveness.”  

But if I have to say it all, then I leave you saying that I am proud to be from Ischia and to “damage” the island. I am from Ischia, and I practice the “crime of illegality.” I “damage” the sea, the sun, the sunsets in Forio, and the sunrises in Ischia. I am from Ischia and “damage” Mount Epomeo from the top of which you look at Naples, Vesuvius, the lower Lazio, and the Apennines. I am Ischia and I “damage” the rabbit all’Ischitana Sunday and cannelloni grandmother on Monday. I am Ischia and I “damage” the bread of Boccia, the coffee of Calise, and the gypsy of Virgola. I am from Ischia, and I abuse photographs, because I just need an image to feel at home. I am from Ischia, and I commit abusive practices. They are damages of necessity because this whole island is necessary to my person. This island is my home, and no earthquake, landslide, flood, or calamity can hurt its poignant beauty.