Barano town is situated east-southeast of the island and borders Ischia Town in the north and Serrara Fontana in the south. Casamicciola Terme lies to the west of it. It lies in an area known as ‘mer(o)copp’ which means ‘highland district’ and includes the hamlets Piedimonte, Fiaiano, Buonopane and Testaccio.
Barano is like a balcony overlooking the crater of Vatoliere or what our writers of the last century called ‘the valleys of Renan’ - named after the sixteenth-century writer, a greater admirer of the beauty of this spot. The name ‘Barano’ comes from ancient times, taking on an adjectival form with a pre-Greek and pre-Roman stem ‘Ba(r)ra’ which means chalk precipice or wall, plus the suffix ‘ano’. Thus ‘Barano’ could possibly mean ‘chalk wall overlooking a ravine’. Indeed, the shape of the area round about, like the Vatoliere crater and the high ground opposite Chiummano, which is rather like the lip of a crater, justify such a hypothesis. The road map and town council map contain many names which all correspond to the shape of the land throughout history. In the local dialect, the name is pronounced ‘Varano’, replacing the ‘b’ with a ‘v’. This may be due to the influence of the pronunciation of ‘b’ in Greek and provides evidence of how much influence the Greek culture has had on the island. It appeared for the first time on a memorial plaque of 1374 which celebrates some of bishop B Bussolaro’s works, as the Forian historian G D’Ascia writes in his ‘Storia dell’isola d’Ischia’ (History of the island of Ischia) (1867).
The variety of the landscape is enriched further by the thermal springs of Nitrodi (which are themselves enclosed in a quarry), whose therapeutic properties have been known since the Classical period. Evidence of this are the marble basso-relievo representations of Apollo and the Nymphs (National Museum of Naples) to whom a donation guaranteed the waters’ healing powers. Last but not least, there is the beautiful area of Maronti, a rocky and wild place sliced with natural quarries which join up on that wonderful stretch of sand known as Maronti beach - the longest on the whole island.
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