It’s always all or nothing in Ischia, a small island off the coast of Naples that is the home of my ancestors and husband. In August, it’s all… all tourists, all sunshine (at least when God cooperates), all beach, and all feasts.
We love our saints around here, so we honor them with unique celebrations. When the rest of Italy goes to sleep in August, Ischia throws some pretty big parties. There’s the pageantry of Sant’ Anna in early August that has parade floats traveling in the sea toward Castello Aragonese. There are the more subdued but equally important religious feasts for the patron saints of various towns, including the Festa di San Rocco in Barano and the Festa di San Giovan Giuseppe in Ischia Ponte.
Then, there’s the Festa di Sant’ Alessandro, which took place Aug. 26, with a parade that starts in Ischia Ponte and arrives in Ischia Porto. Since Alessandro is a royal name, the feast celebrates royalty and features Ischitani dressed as the people who long ago lived on the island (after conquering it). In a parade that is part fashion show and part history lesson, you can see how Ischia evolved through the ages.
It begins with the Greeks, who first settled the island as Pithecusa. Through the years, royals from Spain and even the Arab world came to what is now known as Ischia. The garb of these different distinct cultures and time periods is depicted throughout the parade. Animals get in on the act, too, with horses that dance or carry carriages and for the first time this year a falcon and owl. Flag throwers and marching bands are also part of the pomp and circumstance. You can see a parade past on YouTube. In case you’re interested in seeing more of those stunning costumes from the 2015 event, here are a few choice pictures:
Di Meglio uses the written word to help families create memories and stick together. You can follow her on Facebook at Francesca’s Newlyweds Nest and on Twitter @ItalianMamma10.