The Eremo di Santa Maria di Montevergine was built at the foot of the hill of Zaro in the second half of the Eighteenth Century beside a small ancient church , by the will of an old hermit, frà Michele Alemanno. After having spent thirty years in the Eremitaggio di San Nicola on Monte Epomeo, by now an elderly man, he was induced by strict weather conditions on the mountain to look for a new lonely place. The University of Forio granted him the ground in front of the preexisting church, dating back to the seventeenth century, as evidenced by a blade dating back to the 1636 located in the apse of the church of San Francesco di Paola. The University contributed, together with the believers, to the construction of the new building. This allowed the municipality to preserve rights on the patronage of this complex. An historical act of the 31 th of May of 1840, preserved in the municipal archives, documents the municipality's concern for the state of abandonment, even spiritual, of the Eremo and its church, left without a chaplain and managed by three hermits with a questionable behavior. The discussion was long and the proposals were conflicting. One was to entrust the administration of the church to the Reformed Franciscan friars that already ran the monastery in an exemplary way, even satisfying the spiritual needs of the faithful and another proposal was to confide the church to the chaplain. It was this solution to prevail in 1863, when the town decided to dismiss the hermits and to hand the church to the chaplain, who modernized it and expanded it building a garden, a tanker, loggias, dormitories, and other spaces.
The coat of arms over the front door of the Ischia residence, chosen as the logo for our tourist activities, most probably belonged to the Hussey family of Sleaford.
In 1924, the town gave the Church of San Francesco historic convent to the Stead family. The Hermitage was “on the ground floor, a courtyard with a well, hall and two storage rooms, on the first floor a landing, hall, two small convent cells, an open gallery and two small rooms with other steps leading to a ramp up to the next floor where there are three small rooms and another small landing”. Since then the former hermitage has become a private villa. A brief history acknowledging this important London Family, the Steads, who in 1924 took on the development of the house, starting with Mary Helaine Hussey who married Alfred Stead. Mary Helain was the daughter of Lord William Hussey, Baron of Sleaford, who in turn was a descendant of an aristocratic English family whose origins date back to the 15th century. The earliest ancestor of this family mentioned in writing is John Hussey, 1st Baron of Sleaford, Chief Butler of England, member of the House of Lords and chamberlain to the Court of Henry VIII. The coat of arms over the front door of the Ischia residence, chosen as the logo for our tourist activities, most probably belonged to the Hussey family of Sleaford. Mary Helaine Hussey’s husband, Alfred Stead, a famous writer, was the son of Thomas Stead, the British editor and journalist, a pioneer of investigative journalism and one of the most controversial figures in Victorian-era journalism, who died in the sinking of the Titanic. He was considered one of the most famous Englishmen on board the ship, and was bound for New York at the invitation of President of the United States. He is still commemorated in a plaque in Central Park, New York, which he sadly never reached. The initials “AS”, for Alfred Stead, are carved the wood on the grand piano in the living room of the house. The changes made to the premises in this first period of the 20th century gave it its present-day appearance. The oldest part of the hermitage was added a new building intended for living room , with the terrace, on the same level as the living room, serves as the roof of the overpass, a surprising but very effective architectural solution by the English previous owner, who designed it personally . In 1938, the House was donated by Mary Helaine to her daughter, Cleves Stead Marrett, a traveler and a great expert in art, who stayed here for the regions luxury and to escape the English winters. Some shrines on the road next to the house carry their names. In 1940, during the Second World War, the house was confiscated by the Italian authorities as a property of an "English family and enemy" only to be returned at the end of the conflict. The history of this event can still be seen on the site where some coastal defense bunkers can be found. In 1948 the church was renewed ; It was built next to a new part of the building of the Hermitage including massive bell tower and the three naves; the facade was advanced in line with that of the Hermitage . In 1968, Countess Cleves Stead sold the house to the current owners . In 1980, were made some important and necessary strengthening work to the structure, adapting it for tourist accommodation without changing its appearance. And this is how we arrive at today with the “Eremo di Montevergine Ischia Apartments”…!