Scoglio Isca: the island where Eduardo's theater was born

by Gerardo Russo

Isca is an island close to Punta Campanella overlooking the coastal area of Massa Lubrense, on the Amalfi side of the Sorrento peninsula. Not far from the coast and only two hundred and seventy meters long, the island is known as "Isca rock“, As if to emphasize its small size and extreme accessibility.

Eduardo and the Isca rock: love at first sight

Its strange characteristics, that is, being a bit of an island and a bit of land, attracted the interest of the illustrious playwright. Eduardo De Filippo. However, the island belonged to the banker Vittorio Astarita, who was not willing to sell it. Eduardo then managed to buy it in 1949, through the mediation of some friends who convinced Astarita.

De Filippo used the island to rest among the many tours that his theatrical activity required. It was in Isca that Eduardo met Isabella Quarantotti, his future partner. Isabella was in fact part of a group of bathers who recognized Eduardo on the islet from a boat bound for Positano. They would then spend many summers together on the island. Isca would have remained particularly in Isabella's heart, so much so that he dedicated the work to her "In the middle of the sea there is an island ...”.

Scoglio Isca: l'isola dove nasceva il teatro di Eduardo
Scoglio Isca from the path to the Crapolla fjord.

Writing by the sea

The Isca rock thus became Eduardo's little refuge from the world. A place that nevertheless allowed him to contemplate the world up close, not to forget it completely. The mainland stood there majestically in the background, like a fresco from which to draw continuous inspiration

Perhaps this was the place where the playwright could occasionally be a spectator, admiring the steep slopes of the Amalfi Coast and the nearby archipelago de Li Galli, in addition to the dynamic comings and goings of fishermen among the Tyrrhenian waves.

The rest for the author of Christmas at the Cupiello house it actually took the form of finding the quiet for his work, that of a writer. In fact, many of his works were composed in Isca. The islet was a clear point of observation of that reality that Eduardo represented masterfully. From the rock the profiles of the coasts are still very clear, the colors of the Mediterranean scrub emerge with force and it is not uncommon to meet boat travelers passing by.

"The contract" and the translation of "The Tempest"

Eduardo set the work "The contract", Composed in 1967.

“The large room of one of the many rustic farmhouses that meet along the hilly road that leads from Massa Lubrense to Positano. Full summer but the evening is fresh and the sea air, impregnated by the essence of the luxuriant citrus groves that surround the farmhouse, passing through the open windows, spreads around the balsamic scent of its blend. "

(Eduardo De Filippo - The contract, 1967)

However, the text that was deeply linked to the Isca rock was another. The publisher Giulio Einaudi had proposed to Eduardo to translate a text by Shakespeare in Neapolitan, for the series “Writers translated by writers”. The chosen work was "The storm“, Whose story is set right on a desert island. Eduardo thus gave birth to his adaptation and the colors of the Shakespearean island became a bit those of Isca and nearby Capri. The writing was completed in 1984, a few months after his death.

It may be that "The Tempest" already contained some germs of Eduardo's theater, so much so that it was intertwined with "The art of comedy", Another Edwardian show, from the director Gianfranco Cabiddu in the film"The stuff of dreams”Of 2016. In the various works the uninhabited island emerges as a distant place from known reality. A place where you can turn your role upside down, where reality and fiction merge, a bit like in the theater. Perhaps only on the rock Isca Eduardo could he undress his earthly role as a writer, or rather be able to write without feeling such. The island was also used as a location by Paolo Sorrentino for the autobiographical work "It was the hand of God“.

Scoglio Isca: l'isola dove nasceva il teatro di Eduardo

The road to the island

To admire the Isca rock in the most suggestive way, you can walk the final part of the CAI path 344 which from Sorrento leads to Crapolla fjord. Starting from Torca, a hamlet of Massa Lubrense, take a path that leads to a wild descent of almost 700 stone steps. Along the descent there are several points where you can look out over the nearby Isca rock. After passing the Abbey of San Pietro in Crapolla and finishing the steps, you reach a welcoming beach, isolated and set in the fjord. Here with a few strokes you can reach and contemplate, this time from below, the spectacular islet. Or you can, like Eduardo, turn away and admire the Lattari Mountains that plunge into the sea of the Amalfi coast.



  • AA. VV .; Books and writers of via Biancamano - Publishing cases in 75 years of Einaudi; 2014
  • Ambrogio Borsani; Campania: Adventures of small lands; 2016
  • Eduardo De Filippo; Cantata of odd days - Third Volume; 2015
  • Federico Frascani; Eduardo secret; 1982
  • Maurizio Giammusso; Life of Eduardo; 2015

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