Lacco Ameno is the smallest of the six towns on the island, covering only 2.7 square kilometres. It lies on a slight slope on the northern coast, at the foot of the hills at the base of Mount Epomeo, and has a popular beach and baths grouped round a small harbour. It is divided into several hamlets, such as ‘Fango’ and ‘Pannella’, which are situated inland, the ‘Marina di Lacco’, and the ‘Fundera’ and the ‘Cala di S Montana’, which lie on the coast. In the past the town was known as ‘Villa di Casamicciola’ - that is a mere hamlet of Casamicciola.
The name ‘Lacco’ comes from the Greek ‘lakkos’ which means ‘cavity’ or ‘ditch’. The adjective ‘Ameno’ - which means ‘laughing’ - was added on the 4 January 1863 by royal decree. Subject to positive bradyseism, one part of the coastline has sunk several metres below sea level. The so-called ‘Grotta di Mario’ (Mario’s cave) was so named because a certain Mario, head of the people’s party of the Roman Republic, fled there in order to hide from his rival Silla. It was probably a ninfario or natural temple dedicated to the sea nymphs and lies 3 metres below sea level.
Another evident example of bradyseism, which the island’s entire northern coastline is subject to, is the peculiar rock once known as the ‘triglia’ (mullet) and nowadays called the ‘fungo’ (mushroom) due to its shape. According to old Laccese fishermen’s tales, the part of the rock underwater hides places where boats would be pulled down. However, some academics believe that the rock was once thrown down by the volcano Epomeo during one of its eruptions long ago and that it then rolled down to the sea.
The town’s symbol is the youthful African saint, Restituta. The story goes that she died upon reaching San Montano Bay. Santa Restituta is the patron of the island and Lacco Ameno’s inhabitants are as fond of her as though she were a daughter of theirs. Until a few years ago it was customary for every Laccese family to call one of their daughters Restituta. Today the saint is celebrated during May with a street festival, which lasts three days and involves the whole island.
Before the 1950s Lacco Ameno was just a fishing village. With the arrival of Angelo Rizzoli, who fell in love with the place and built luxurious hotels and spa complexes (R Isabella, Royal Sporting, La Reginella), it has become one of the most important tourist centres of southern Italy.
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