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  • Buonopane - Comune of Barano
    Ischia Travel Guide

    Born and raised in Buonopane, my father, Pasquale, credits his adopted home, the United States, with giving him opportunity. But he says Buonopane is where he learned how to seize that opportunity. The real contadini or peasants still live in Buonopane. You'll find them cultivating their land in the spring, summer and part of fall. They might make wine or sell fresh vegetables roadside. If you ever get the chance to sample, zucchini or lettuce or any fresh fruit from Buonopane, you will find that it tastes more delicious than those same items found in other parts of the island. Many will tell you that Forio produces the best of everything because of the additional sunlight it receives. But the love of Buonopane's people makes the goods from its gardens all the sweeter.

    The hallmark of the piazza in Buonopane is San Giovanni Battista church. It is where my mother's parents were wed, my father was an altar boy, and Mass was held when my father's parents died. For me, it represents my family's circle of life. For visitors, it is a historically significant shrine because the parish dates back to 1524.

    Across the way from the church, you'll find a tiny museum with photos and props from the 'Ndrezzata troupe. 'Ndrezzata is a folk dance performed by the people of Buonopane for centuries. Nonno Giovanni was a clarinet player for the dancing group, and many other relatives and friends have participated and continue to do so today. The group has performed all over the world but can be found right in Buonopane's piazza every Pasquetta (the day after Easter) and June 24, the feast day of San Giovanni Battista (or St. John the Baptist).

    The dance's origin is pretty interesting, especially for someone like me whose mother comes from Barano and whose father comes from Buonopane. According to legend, a fisherman from Barano gave a coral belt to a woman and later found it in the hands of another man from Buonopane. When he confronted the man from Buonopane, he unwittingly involved people from both towns in the melee. It was the Madonna della Porta that brought peace to the neighborhood. The dance ,'Ndrezzata, which is like an elaborate tarantella with numerous pairs of men clacking wooden swords together in unison in a circle, is a celebration of the Madonna who restored tranquility.

    The award-winning band and dance troupe is composed entirely of people who come from Buonopane. Although women have made appearances in the band recently, men are the only ones who perform the 'Ndrezzata. Even the roles of women are assumed by men. As the captain starts the show with his poem (which is spoken entirely in the local dialect), you'll get goose bumps. "Io vengo da Monte Cupo per darvi un gran saluto/Vengo da Tarantiello/cu 'na lanza e 'nu spurtiello..." Then, the dance will whisk you away to a simpler era when people shared values and tradition. And that was more than enough.

    Buonopane's riches don't end there. If you're willing to conquer a spiral staircase that is outside and made of old stone and concrete, you'll arrive at Nitrodi. The water that gushes out of the fountain there has many healing properties. You should never drink it, but those with health problems - especially rashes, acne, rosacea, etc. - have found relief by bathing in the healing water.

    Next page: Piedimonte

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