What can I tell you about Ischia?
When people think of the islands off Naples and Sorrento, they often think of the island of Capri. The problem is that every time everyone thinks of the same place…all go to the same place, Cancun in Mexico and Rome in Italy are two clear examples of what I’m talking about. Because in the end what happens is that the pristine views are covered with tourists, prices increase and authenticity is slowly reduced like a sunset. I’m not saying that Capri is not worth visiting, I would go there immediately, but on balance, Ischia is like the older sister of Capri but so many people don’t know it properly.
So, what can I tell you about Ischia? It is an island similar to Capri for which it takes about 1 hour to reach it from the port of Naples. It is actually a volcanic island with natural spas perfect for relaxation because it enjoys the ideal temperature between the Mediterranean Sea and the boiling water coming from below. I have also seen a local who boiled cauliflower and an egg in a particularly hot section, this to make you understand how the water could be hot, in some parts of the island.
Ischia is a rectangular island of no more than 47 square kilometers, wider from east to west than from north to south. Most ferries arrive at the port in the city of Ischia in the northeastern corner of the island, although some dock at Casamicciola on the north coast.
Island life, attractions and the population cover the coast. The interior of the island is dedicated to mountains and parks, with the exception of a few towns facing south. I spent most of my time going around on foot, by bus and by taxi between Forio, Casamicciola and Ischia Porto. I did not arrive at the center of the island, because I spent a couple of days in Procida.
What to do necessarily
You’ll see and feel a lot about the water and the mud on this island, like attractions and products for sale. The first people who discovered and enjoyed the thermal water and the healing mud of Ischia, were the Etruscans and thanks to them, nowadays, always more people can enjoy it especially during the summer.. Rheumatism, stress and skin disorders are just some of the diseases that can be alleviated by these therapies. Yes, these are the same treatments my grandfather used to do for ten days every summer, the ones I laughed at when I was eight. But I was surprised, really surprised, how much I enjoyed spreading the healing mud.
Parco Termale Negombo
The Spa park is a vast complex of beach, gardens and hydrothermal experiences: whirlpools, Kneipp pools, waterfalls, saunas and steam baths. The water park is built on a hill, and I spent many happy hours wandering through the labyrinth of swimming pools, caves, whirlpools and other creative aquatic creations and art installations, pausing on the hammocks and sunbeds, accompanied by fresh fruit juices. The beach is a private bay lined with sun loungers and sun umbrellas. It can get crowded, but it’s big enough that it does not bother you. An on-site spa offers all kinds of treatments.
My Top 5 Places to do not miss
La Mortella Gardens
The English couple Susana and William Walton built a beautiful and elaborate garden complex near Forio in the last half of the 20th century. This is a great place to get lost among sculptures, fountains, pergolas, ponds, frogs, water lilies, birds and tropical flowers. The museum has Walton memorabilia, a puppet theater and photographs by Cecil Beaton. Pay particular attention to the figures of the Temple of the Sun: They might look like small figures painted innocent, but they have fun in ways a bit hot and sexy. William was a composer, and there are frequent concerts in the recital spaces, the most beautiful of which is an outdoor greek amphitheater overlooking the sea.
The castle complex originally built in 474 BC on a small island off the east coast near the port it is exceptional, historic and captivating. The many battles of Ischia over the centuries, have been undertaken here, and one can only imagine the fights and feasts that this fortress, at the top of the hill, has seen in its time. After entry, follow the self-guided tour through the church, the convent, the cemetery of the nuns (they let their bodies decomposing on the draining seats along the walls), the olive groves, the Bourbon prison, the panoramic balconies and the sightseeing points. There is a hotel inside the castle walls, the Albergo Il Monastero, is accessible only to guests and it is definitely charming.
The Archaeological Museum of Pithecusae retraces the history of Ischia from prehistory to the Roman age. A lot of pottery, ideal if you like this kind of thing.
The former villa of Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti, has exhibits about his life and his work. In the warmer months, it hosts a complete program of shows. Look at that view!
A public bay of hot springs in the southern part of the island near the town of Succhivo, accessible by about 200 steps that descend to the sea.