Campania, a region where the religious feeling has always been very strong, has an extraordinary number of churches and many are undoubtedly among the most beautiful in Italy. Ischia is no exception and it is an experience not to miss for visitors of this wonderful island to explore the narrow streets of its villages in search of these amazing examples of Mediterranean architecture. Some of them, according to architecture historian Kenneth Frampton, inspired the famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier for his masterpiece, the Notre Dame du Haut chapel in Ronchamp.
The best known is undoubtedly the church of Santa Maria del Soccorso in Forio. It is located on the homonymous steep promontory bearing the same name, with a suggestive view on the harbour to the North, on the entire village dominated by the green Mount Epomeo to the East and the boundless blue sea to the West. The essential façade offers a mixture of Gothic elements (the small bell tower with a pyramidal spire), Renaissance elements (the gray stone portal), Baroque elements (the base of the cross at the center of the facade with the two simple cymatiums on the sides). Simply extraordinary is the majolica decoration, representing religious subjects and floral motifs, on the parapets of the semi-elliptical landing at the entrance and of the two flights of stairs that connect it to the churchyard.
Not far away is the Arciconfraternita of Santa Maria Visitapoveri (church of the confraternity of St. Mary who visits the poor), where the famous Angel statue, used forthe traditional Easter procession, is kept. It is located in a corner of Piazza Municipio, and it draws immediately your attention because of the double facade, the entrance one dominated by a central bell tower with two pyramidal obelisks on the sides. Inside there is a beautiful eighteenth-century floor by the Chiaiese, an important family of Neapolitan majolica craftmen, who decorated also the staircase of the Soccorso church. Truly unmissable are the six beautiful ovals made by the well-known Forio painter Alfonso Di Spigna, who was also prior of the congregation.
Also in Forio, the orange tall dome of the recently restored church of San Gaetano dominates the port, while its powerful lateral buttresses mark the space of Piazza Medaglie d’Oro. It was built in the mid of the 17th century with the legacies of the Forio fishermen, whose generosity was inversely proportional to their poor lifeconditions. The frequency with which it appears in the paintings of the artist Peperone testifies to its popularity among the island inhabitants.