Ischia is the largest island in the bay of Naples and is considered by many to be the most beautiful, though Capri is considerably more famous. It is volcanic in origin and still classed as an active volcano, but it has not erupted since 1302.
The island is a 10 km from east to west and 7 km north to south. It has a coastline of 34 km and covers an area of 46.3 km2. It has a permanent population of approximately 70,000 (2019). Up to 6 million tourists (principally from the Italian mainland and Germany) flock to the island for its volcanic thermal spas, its beaches and its food.
There are several towns along the island's coast.
- 1 Barano. A hilly, mostly residential area.
- 2 Casamicciola. In the middle of the northern side of Ischia island, between the towns of Ischia and Lacco Ameno. The name comes from "Casa Nizola" (Nizola's House) a Roman matron who could not walk anymore and who recovered by dipping her legs into the warm water of a stream flowing near her house. The new centre is on the seashore, the most attractive beauties of Casamicciola are on the hills around. On the Sentinella, where the beautiful panoramic view make us understand why the European high society chose Casamicciola as holidays destination, there is the Bourbonic Geophysical Observatory. On the border dividing from the municipality of Ischia, on Monte Rotaro, there are the Bosco del Castiglione (Castle's Wood) on the side facing the sea, and the Bosco della Maddalena (Magdalene's Wood) on the side towards inland. The latter is 45 hectares and occupies the whole Fondo d'Oglio between Monte Rotaro and Monte Cretaio.
- 3 Forio. Biggest city on the island, lying on the west coast, with a handful of interesting sites.
- Ischia: The largest city (often confusing name for tourists). It has two centers:
- 6 Lacco Ameno.
- 7 Serrara-Fontana. A commune that is home to the highest point on the island, Mount Epomeo, as well as the popular holiday port village of Sant'Angelo and the mountain villages of Serrara and Fontana. Walks through Ischia's gardens and parks and beach-hopping around the island are possible from here. Beverages and food can be obtained, e.g. near the Fontana bus stop/main piazza.
Ischia — historically called Pitecusae — was colonized in turn by the Greeks, Syrausansa, Romans, Saracens, Turks, and Aragonese; all of whom were interested in its excellent strategic position, its therapeutic hot-spring waters, and its attractive landscape. The result of all this varied history can be seen in the ruins of various outposts, towers, and "tufa" rock shelters hidden all over the island.
Ischia has become a frequent backdrop for Italian and American movies such as Vacanze ad Ischia, Appuntamento ad Ischia, and The Talented Mr.Ripley. The island has also been used as a cinematic stand-in for the Island of Capri.
The best time for the traveler to visit Ischia is from April to October, however, the weather in Ischia is always changing and visitors should expect both sunshine and rain — whatever the season. Summer, the main tourist season, combines long, hot days with lengthy evenings. Winter can be bitterly cold and wet, with short daylight hours.
Flora and fauna
Also called the "Green Island", Ischia enjoys hot and dry summers and mild winters along with a pronounced fertility which is a result of having almost an entirely volcanic soil. These factors allow Mediterranean plants to thrive all over the island, and sub-tropical and tropical species to successfully occupy niches in the warmest areas.
On the southern side of the island, the continuous exposure to direct sunlight favors tropical and desert vegetation which is mainly represented by palms, cactus' and agave plants with Mediterranean trees hiding in the shade of inlets and bends. On the northern side of the island in the shade cast by Mount Epomeo, you'll find chestnut trees, as well as typical Mediterranean trees such as the holm oak, cypress, and cork trees as well as cultivated almond trees, vines, and olive trees.
Ischia mud originates from the geologic evolution of the island where, over the centuries, many hydrovolcanic eruptions and earthquakes changed the soil composition. The hot waters and muds, all “thermal” or “hypertermal”, i.e. they are at the same time hot or very hot and very rich in mineral content. In spite of their diversity, all the muds have the same standard features: sodium, chlorine, potassium, calcium and sulphur in the form of sulphates and sulphides. Because of the variety of different chemicals found in them, different waters and mud are recommended for different treatments. The Italian Ministry of Health produces a document that has updates on which waters and muds are suitable for therapeutic treatments and illness and diseases which can be treated. According to this document, disease which can be treated are: rheumatic diseases such as arthrosis; respiratory diseases; dermatological diseases such as psoriasis, atopical dermatitis, eczema (except for exudative bladdery forms), chronic seborrhea; gynecological diseases such as pelvis tissue sclerosis; diseases of the gastroenteric apparatus such as gastroenteric or bilious dyspepsia, and intestinal disorders associated with constipation.
Cavascura and Olmitello thermal water
While traveling around Sant’Angelo there are several footpaths that can take you up the hilltops. One of these is a footpath that goes to the thermal springs of Cavascura and Olmitello. To get there, take a taxi boat from the square of Sant’Angelo to the Fumarole beach. Here, with the beach behind you, take the footpath from the right side of the beach which is flanked by oleander trees. The first stretch is steep, with a few houses on both sides, then it levels out and there are Mediterranean bushes and a variety of plants such as figs, capers, prickly pears, etc. On the right, there is a view of the Maronti beach. Passing under a natural arch, turn right to reach the beach. Here is the entrance to Cavascura. There are all types of typical restaurants and at the back of the canyon are the antique thermal springs of Cavascura. Going back, climbing the steps through the vine yards, you will arrive at the antique establishment of Cava Olmitello, which sadly to say is in disuse. Here, as you make your way through the bushes, with only the croaking of frogs, you can imagine yourself traveling back in time when the world was a much simpler place.
While Italian is the native language on the island, most people working in the tourism industry speak at least one other language, with German and English being the most widely spoken second languages. It should also be noted that the island of Ischia also has its own dialect of Italian, which can make it difficult for visitors to understand at times.
Unless you are a millionaire (and order a private helicopter), you will come by ferry or hydrofoil. To reach the harbors, there are many options.
From the coast, e.g. connections from one of the Naples harbours or Pozzuoli (not really cheaper nor faster than from Naples), are available. Arriving from islands (Capri, Procida) is common too. Summarized timetables are available e.g. here, but be prepared for small delays (even 1/2 hr).
From Rome (A1) - From Bari (A16) - From Salerno (A30). It is better to follow the road markings for the Tangenziale (bypass) (exit No. 12) and to go on towards Pozzuoli. Then go out at the Via Campana (exit No. 12) and go on towards the Harbour of Pozzuoli (ferries only), which is about 4 km away. You can also reach the harbour of Naples Beverello (both ferries and hydrofoils). You don't have to turn into the Tangenziale, but to follow the road markings for the Zona Portuale (Harbour area) and, after the exit, to go on for the harbour, which is about 5 km from the highway.
- Naples Campi Flegrei. From this station it is easy to reach the harbor of Mergellina by taxi, bus, tram or underground. Mergellina is approximately 3 km away from the railway station.
- Naples Mergellina. This station is more or less 200 m from the harbor of Mergellina.
- Naples Centrale or Naples Piazza Garibaldi. Both stations enable you to have an immediate access to Piazza Garibaldi, which is located around 4 km from the harbour of Naples Beverello and easily reachable by taxi, tram or bus.
- Pozzuoli. The Cumana railline operates from Montesanto in Naples and follows the coastline for approximately 20 km before ending in Torregaveta (Bacoli). To reach the Pozzuoli harbour you get off at the stop for Pozzuoli. The harbor is a 5-minute walk away.
Taxis in Naples to the boats
It is easy to take a taxi from the rail station or airport to the harbour. In this case take a look at the "Fixed prices table" that any taxi driver must show in his car. Taxi drivers will often try to get tourists to pay more than necessary for the short ride from central station to the port, so be sure to either bargain or ask for the fixed price (prezzo fisso). For example, from the rail station Centrale to the Beverello harbour the fixed price is €9.50 for the taxi, not per person, nothing more (though they may not allow more than four people in a taxi at a time). From the airport to the harbour of Beverello the fixed total price is €15.
Getting off the boat in Ischia
When taking many of the ferries from Naples to Ischia, pay close attention when disembarking. Many people make the mistake of getting off the boat, and disembark at the island of Procida instead of Ischia. It is recommended that visitors ask the people working on the boat if the boat stops at Procida. Also, be sure to pay attention to which port you get off at, even if you are at the island of Ischia.
The ferry from Pozzuoli directly to Ischia Porto
Boats make stops at several ports. If you do not have a specific city in mind, the largest hub of activity and the largest port is called "Ischia Porto" (this port city is often called simply "Ischia", although this can be confusing as it is also the name of the island as a whole). You can find transportation to other parts of the island, tourist information, and food and shelter there, if all else fails.
The public bus service connects the various urban centres of the island through frequent journeys, most of them having their terminus in the 4 bus station of Ischia Porto close to the harbour. The bus stops along the routes are every few hundred meters.
Two most important bus routes are called CD and CS, both of which start from Ischia porto, takes a circular tour around the island, and returns again to Ischia porto. Bus CD takes a clockwise route, while CS takes an anti-clockwise route. Using one of these two buses, one can get a cheap and easy trip around the island (little over 1 hour total round trip time).
Other lines share part of the CS/CD route - see e.g map here. Especially during the summer - your "ideal bus" may be delayed by the traffic (even 15-20 minutes on longer routes), or it may be fully occupied.
The fare for a single journey (valid 90 minutes) is €1.5; tickets can be bought from newsstands, bars, travel agencies and tobacconists. Tickets cannot be purchased on board from the driver. Tickets valid for longer durations (for example one or two-day tickets) are also available, usually only from the official ticket centres like in Ischia Porto bus station. All tickets must be validated on boarding the bus. Tickets are regularly checked.
- Read about the unified public transport ticket Campania Unico.
As with many other tourist destinations, visitors should confirm the price to their destination with the taxi driver before getting into the taxi. With most taxis not running on a meter, this is the surest way to ensure that you are not overcharged.
There are half-day roundtrips to all six communities of Ischia with stops at the most beautiful sightseeing stops of the islands. Price is €11.
Villas, parks and museums
- 1 Museo Luchino Visconti (Villa La Colombaia). The villa, which is surrounded by a superb park, was the residence of the movie director Luchino Visconti. It is now the seat of a cultural institution dedicated to Visconti, which is involved in promoting cultural activities such as music, cinema, theatre, art exhibitions, work-shops, and cinema reviews. There is a museum dedicated to Luchino Visconti as well. The villa and the park are accessible to public visits.
- 2 Giardini la Mortella (La Mortella Gardens) (San Francesco). This park is at Forio d’Ischia and used to be the property of the English composer William Walton, who lived in the Villa next door with his Argentinian wife, Susanna. The composer, arrived on the island in 1946, planting wonderful tropical and Mediterranean plants, some of which have now reached amazing proportions.
- 3 Giardini Ravino (Citara Bay). Botanical Garden with one of the richest collection of cacti and succulents cultivated outdoors in Europe. The garden, along with the mature areas around Villa Ravino, is the result of 50 years of great passion and loving work of Captain Giuseppe d'Ambra, the owner of the Villa. The exotic trees include palms, olive, lemon and orange, surprising scenery and rare and precious botanical specimens. Giardini Ravino is at Forio d’Ischia. A rich collection of cacti and succulents cultivated outdoors, constantly enriched with new species from all over the world and embellished with the extraordinary presents of the Woolemi Pine, the most sensational discovery of the century.
- 4 Il Torrione. Since at least the 9th century many towers were constructed along Ischia coastline to provide warning and to defend the island from raids by pirates. One of those tower, called “Torrione” still exists. This tower is in Forio, near the harbour. It was built in 1480, and has two floors: the ground floor has no access from outside and was used as for storing weapons and munitions, and a rain-water tank; on the upper floor, there was accommodation for the garrison (about 10 people) led by a “torriere” that had the task of quickly sighting of any enemy ships and sounding the alarm. On the top, there was a terrace provided for four cannons. Historians notice that many similar towers were built in Forio until the 18th century, however although many of them were now used as private residences of noble families. Sixteen similar fortresses have been counted between 1480 and 1700, plus five more towers built in the district of Panza, some with a squared base and others with a circular base. Many of these towers are still standing and are mainly private residences. The “Torrione”, after it had been restored, became a municipal Museum (on the lower floor) while the upper floor was the home of the artist Giovanni Maltese from Forio and is now an art gallery hosting his pictures and sculptures collection.
- 5 The Soccorso's Church. This church is devoted to "Santa Maria della neve" (Saint Maria of the snow), and was built on a steep promontory from which it takes its name. As with the "Torrione" tower, it is the symbol of the town of Forio and it is one of the most original architectural structures on the island. The Soccorso was founded as an Augustinian convent in about 1350 but it was suppressed in 1653, with its present form going back to 1864. The church is accessible by 20 steps of piperno, which leads to a small atrium with five crosses of pipernio. This church is world famous not only for its location but also for its singular façade, which is white and adorned by precious 700 majolicas representing saints and scenes of the Passion of Christ. The Soccorso's style is very original, it reassumes some architectures as Greek-Byzantine, Moorish and Mediterranean in harmonic shapes. The inside is very interesting because of the many types of volta. In the left chapel there is a thaumaturgical cross, a sculpture of Catalan inspiration, surely made on the 16th century. Close to this cross there are two marble medals, that were found in a medieval sarcophagus that was found in the castel of the antique cathedral of Ischia. This church retains various artifacts such as a shovel made by Cesare Calise that represents Saint Augustine, and a small basin of pipernio dated from the 9-10th century. On 5 May 2002, during his Pastoral Visit, Pope John Paul II met with many young people in a square adjacent to the church of Our Lady Help of Christians.
- 6 Castello Aragonese (The Castle). One of the most striking monuments on the island. It stands on a small island near Ischia Ponte and is reached by crossing a stone bridge. The castle is about 113 meters high and the climb can be made on an old mule track or by using a modern elevator that was installed in the 1970s. The castle was built in 1441 by Alfonso D’Aragona on top of the ruins of an old fort that dated back to 474 BC. This fortified castle was used to protect Ischia’s population from pirate attacks. One of the exhibits in the castle is dedicated to various forms of medieval torture.
- 7 Guevara Tower. The tower represents Castello Aragonese, one of the best known symbols of the island. It is called Guevara or Michelangelo’s Tower and is in front of the Castle, and is surrounded by a lawn and facing the Sant’Anna rocks. The tower was rebuilt over the ruins of an earlier ancient fortress: it is likely one of the defence towers built from the 15th century to protect the Castle and the coast against enemy attacks. The tower derives its name from the Dukes of Guevara who were the owners since 1800. Its second name derives from a legend that] Michelangelo, who was a friend of the poet] Vittoria Colonna, stayed in the tower when he was visiting the island. The tower is now used as arts exhibition centre.
- 8 Villa Arbusto. The villa was built in 1785 by Don Carlo Acquaviva, Duke of Atri, in the same place where a farm called “dell’arbusto” (“arbusto” means “ shrub”, in this case the reference is to a particular plant growing in the garden surrounding the building) existed. Over the years the villa had many owners, until 1952, when it was purchased by the publisher and movie producer Angelo Rizzoli who sponsored the reconstruction of the ancient thermal bath, the construction of some large hotels and the restoration of Piazza Restituta in Lacco Ameno's main piazza.
- Pithecusae Archaeological Museum at the main building of Villa Arbusto. In the Museum there are many archaeological findings dating from prehistory to the Romans Age. On the ground floor there is the a Geological section, which shows how the presence of the volcano affected life on the island. Some findings made of clay and stone dating to the Neolithic, have been retrieved at Cilento, nearby the Ischia cemetery; a village dating back from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age has been discovered on the hill of Castiglione, in Casamicciola. In the museum are also exposed series of funerary objects from the Necropolis at San Montano bay, used as burial place for about 1000 years.
- The Angelo Rizzoli Museum contains a picture gallery about Angelo Rizzoli’s stay on the island. He used to stay in Lacco Ameno where he promoted the restructuring of the ancient Santa Restituta baths and sponsored the construction of a series of large luxury hotels which in the 1950s and 1960s were the much-loved destination for cinema stars and international jet-setters (in the 1950s and 1960s).
- A splendid public garden
- 9 Villa La Colombaia (in Lacco Ameno). The Villa, surrounded by a superb park, was the residence of the movie director Luchino Visconti. It is now the seat of the cultural institution dedicated to Visconti, which is involved in cultural activities promotion such as music, cinema, theatre, art exhibitions, work-shops, cinema reviews. A museum dedicated to Luchino Visconti will be open soon. The villa and the park are accessible for public visits.
- Piazza Restituta
- Il Fungo
- Rock shaped like a mushroom
Ischia's thermal springs have been renowned since ancient times and have been tested by many Italian and foreign scientists, for their therapeutic features. The thermal waters are used in baths and thermal gardens, and they can found in small springs on some beaches and streams of spouting that feature hot water gushing into the sea as well as steam spouts (fumaroles) with gases gushing from cracks in the soil. Fumaroles can also be observed on the slopes of the Mount Epomeo, particularly on cold days, or are located into small caves, called “stoves”, and idiomatically “sudatori” or “sudaturi” (from the Italian verb meaning “to perspire”) which are used as a kind of sauna in baths and thermal gardens. Springs and spouting steam can be considered as the manifest sign of Ischia's volcanic origins and of the still persisting volcanic activity. The particular features of the subsoil, due to its structure and chemical composition affect the minerals content and the degree of dilution by sea and rain water. According to many scientists, the location and features of the springs are affected by the combination of the above mentioned factors. The most ancient springs are those of Casamicciola, consecrated to the god Apollo, those of Lacco Ameno consecrated to Hercules, those of Citara in Panza consecrated to Venus Citarea, and those of Barano consecrated to Nitrodi Nymps.
As described above, there is a tiny white-washed church in a truly spectacular position: in the square on the Punta del Soccorso in Forio, that looks out onto the crystal clear sea - a typically Mediterranean site of astounding beauty.
- 1 Chiaia (Forio). A great beach for children.
- 2 Cava dell'Isola (Forio). the most important beach for young people
- 3 Citara (Panza). This beach is at the foot of Epomeo, and is one of the most popular on the island. The crystal-clear water that laps the beach mixes with the thermal water spas in several points, allowing you to bathe in the sea and reap the benefit of thermal water at the same time. However, much of this beach is prviately owned and the public areas are small and often overcrowded. In this bay there is also the Poseidon Thermal Garden.
- 4 Bay of Saint Montano (Lacco Ameno). A bay where the thermal park Negombo is located. This unusual beach, located between Mount Vico and Mount Zaro, is unique compared to the island’s other beaches. The clear sea water is very hot and the water is extremely shallow.
- 5 Cartaromana (Ischia Ponte). This beach is between Castello Aragonese and the Sant’Anna cliffs. The beach also offers one of the best views of the island. Cartaromana is well known for its natural hot thermal water springs that spill out onto the shore, allowing tourists to swim in the sea even during the winter.
- 6 Marina dei Maronti (Barano). At 3 km, this beach is the largest on Ischia and can be reached by taking a charming panoramic road that starts in Barano and descends towards the sea, or by foot via the picturesque port of Sant'Angelo. Another great way to reach the beach is to take a water taxi (€3 approx) from Sant’Angelo. The beach at Maronti is full of thermal springs, natural spas and fumaroles.
- 7 Spiaggia degli Inglesi. Lovely small beach located in Ischia, suitable for enjoying a peaceful rest, far away from crowds.
- 8 Cava grado. Small cove near Sant’Angelo; hydrovolcanic activity occurs in outpourings of hot water which can be used for relaxing baths. To get here, there is a steeply sloping foot-path starting at Succhivio.
- Bagnitiello. Series of sandy beaches along the sea front road, equipped with car parks and bathing establishments
- 9 Sorgeto (in Panza). A shingle small bay, lying at the foot of cliffs covered by agave plants. Here thermal waters gush from springs into the sea. On the hill behind, is an important archaeological site, known as Punta Chiarito, which was where the first Greek colonist planted vines and a hut village.
- 10 Fumarole Beach. This beach is supposed to be the island's finest. It's long, wide, clean and not too crowded; it's also of a dark colour, since it's of volcanic origin. It can be reached in 30 minutes by taking a footpath from Sant'Angelo, or in a couple of minutes by boat-taxi. There are some fumaroles here, and locals often go there and cook dinner in the sand. The beach is also a popular hangout at night.
Starting from the 1300s people have come to soak in the soothing hot springs of Ischia. Streams of spouting hot water gushing into the sea as well as steamspouts with gases gushing from cracks in the soil (fumaroles) in caves which are used as a kind of sauna in baths and thermal gardens.Sorgeto Hot Spring Waters located in Forio coastline, whose thermal water gushes out into the sea. You can lounge in the natural pool made by small rocks and stones. Hot water is outpouring into the sea and bubbles can be easily observed among rocks. To get here there is a series of stone steps. The temperature quite high allows to have baths also in winter.
Poseidon Gardens and natural spas
With reference to its volcanic origins, the hydrothermal heritage of the island of Ischia is one of the richest in the world. The thermo-mineral island springs with their clearly evident "hyperthermability" captured the attention of the ancients right from the beginning. It is therefore hardly surprising that the thermal cures of Ischia date back to the 8th century AD, when the first Greek colonies, originating from Eubea, settled on the island.
The curative tradition of Ischia's springs did not pause throughout time: they passed from the Greek to the Roman period and so on, through the darkest Medieval centuries to the Renaissance period and up to a first rational approach of 18th century medical science to today.
Among the areas creating most interest, the zone of Citara, in the municipality of Forio, is undoubtedly the most important and, indeed, in the bay of Citara the famous Thermal Poseidon Gardens were established.
22 pools (thermal, Kneipp, ocean-water) have been installed according to latest technical and medical knowledge. The water - temperature varies from 28°C to 40°C (82°F to 104°F) and the abundance of water means that it is constantly renewed - a totally unique procedure. A Roman sauna and a large private beach is equipped with deck-chairs and beach - umbrellas, various restaurants of which one is situated in a beautiful grotto of local tuff stones and a boutique with a newspaper-kiosk complete this extraordinary establishment.
Visitors to the Poseidon Gardens will find a haven of peace and tranquility in a setting of 60,000 m² of ecologically intact gardens and can enjoy an ideal combination of medical cure and relaxing holidays by the sea.
This is also a reason why perfectly healthy people who have no need for treatment in the classical sense, benefit greatly from spending some time at the Poseidon Gardens. If you are extremely involved in your work and have hardly any time for compensatory sport or other activities, or if you simply want to prevent future health - problems nothing can be better than the combination of a mild climate, the warming sun, mountains and beaches, thermal springs and the sea. Nothing is better than the mosaic of natural healing as provided in the Poseidon Gardens.
One of the many things that make Ischia such a great place to visit is the variety of events from musical events and festivals to the handicrafts markets in the historical center and sports events. In spring and summer, the various villages organize several events: many of them religious festivals, which are an important part of the island’s tradition and cultural identity.
- Festa della Ndrezzata – April: Easter Monday - The Festa della Ndrezzata is held in the village of Buonopane, near Barano every Easter Monday. The Ndrezzata is a typical island dance. It is a kind of rhythmic, violent and picturesque fight where the dancers are dressed in traditional island costumes and fight each other with wooden swords;
- International Festival of Classic Music - May - October Forio: The first edition of the festival International of "Classic" music: a series of concerts that were held in the churches and the basilicas of Forio;
- Ischia Global Film & Music Fest – mid-July: A cinema festival with premieres and retrospective themes dedicated to European films, especially Italian. Ischia, for example, has used as a location of Italian films since the 1950s. These include the films Vacanze a Ischia with Vittorio De Sica, the colossal Cleopatra with Richard Burton and Liz Taylor and the 1999 film The Talented Mr Ripley with Matt Damon and Jude Law;
- Vinischia - July: An event that is entirely dedicated to food and wine and Campania regional crafts. It has been organized each summer since 1999 at Torre Guevara at Ischia Ponte. Shows, concerts and dances are organized around the exhibitions and the food and wine tasting;
- Festa di Sant’Anna – 26 July; The Festa di Sant’Anna in Ischia Porto is held each year in the borough of Ischia. On that occasion, there is a sea parade of figurative boats from the island’s various boroughs and also from Procida, under the Castello Aragonese. The parade ends with a prize-giving ceremony and fireworks. The festival is watched by an enthusiastic public;
- Sant'Alessandro celebration - 26 August. Patronal feast and celebration.
- Settembre sul Sagarato – August and September; This is a festival held every year since 1988 in the village of Piazzale Battistessa, opposite the Church of San Pietro. The festival lasts for two weeks and is filled with painting exhibitions, parades of traditional costumes, wine tasting, fagiolate (bean stew tasting), concerts and shows; and
- Ischia White Night (La notte Bianca a Forio d' Ischia) 24 December; Museums, churches, shops and restaurant stay open while the Ischia Notte Bianca stages music, dance and theater events.
Island trips by boat
An trip around the island of Ischia by boat allows you to see the coast-line that otherwise is not visible. Boat tours leave from Forio, Ischia, Sant'Angelo, Lacco Ameno and Casamicciola. If leaving from the port of Sant’Angelo, sailing westwards you can see the Elephants Grotto then in front of you there is a deep inlet which is low and sandy in one part and in others high and rocky which continue until you reach Punto Chiarito, passing the beaches of Cava Ruffano, Cava Grado and the Green Grotto.
At Punto Chiarito there is the Bay of Sorgeto with its hot water and muds. Then the coast-line becomes very high, deeply articulated, with rockfaces, precipices, recesses and promontories of: Capo Negro, Punta Pilaro, and Chianare Spadaia with its rocks like the Boat Rock, until you reach Capo Imperatore with its lighthouse. At first the coast-line is high and steep, then it drops and there is the long and winding beach of Citara. Then it rises softly towards Punta Soccorso and Forio. Passing the coast-line is low and sandy opening onto the beach of San Francesco, which laps the offshoots of Monte Caruso. Here the coast-line is high bare rockfaced, jutting out, then curving inwards before arriving at Punta Caruso and Punta Cornacchia.
Between Punta Cornacchia and the offshoots of Monte Vico, with its point of the same name, there is the delightful Beach of San Montano, and Lacco Ameno. Lacco Ameno is noted for its characteristic rock of tufo, shaped like a mushroom.
Along the coast there are the houses of Casamicciola Terme. A little farther along there is Punta Scrofa with the English beach, then the bay of Ischia Porto. Past Punto Molino formed from the lava flow of the Arso, there is the Pescatori beach, from here you can admire the island with its castle and the Aragonese bridge. After the bridge there is an inlet for the Cartaromana beach.
In the middle of the sea the rocks of Sant’Anna emerge, and going southwards is Punta Pisciazza. The section of the coast that concludes the southern side of the island is high, rocky and marked by the promontory jutting out of Punta Lume, Punta Parate and Punta San Pancrazio. On this side of the island there is the Mago grotto and other grottos. From Punta San Pancrazio the coast-line continues for a few kilometers until Capo Grosso: This stretch of coast-line is commonly known as The Scarrupata. After another small stretch of coast-line there is the beach of Maronti, where the small island of Sant’Angelo can be seen, which was the starting point of the round trip of the island.
Arriving at Fontana by foot or by riding a mule you can reach the peak, which is about 800 metres above sea level. 11 Monte Epomeo is an enormous rock of tufa, in which rooms of an ex hermit and a church which is dedicated to San Nicola (which has been restored) have been carved into its sides. During the day the view is marvellous, you can see the whole island of Ischia, Capri and the bay of Naples. At night you can see the town of Forio in a candid light, like an oriental city with the stars slowly fading into the sea, and dawn slowly breaking with its famous green ray.
A small restaurant La Grotta da Fiore is available near the summit.
Many of Ischia's best dance clubs are in Forio and Ischia Porto:
In every village there are streets where you can go exciting shopping for craftsman ships, agricultural local products. The boutiques that sell famous brand clothes, mark the shopping route:
- In Ischia you can go to Via Roma, Corso Vittoria Colonna, or to Borgo di Ischia Ponte, a very nice place full of artisans, shops, restaurants and jewelers;
- In Casamicciola, the main streets for shopping are the Seafront and the adjoining Marina Square;
- In Lacco Ameno the seafront (nowadays called Corso Rizzolihas) been very famous since the 1950s. It starts at Piazza Santa Restituta where the locals like to gather;
- In Forio, thanks to the large size of the town, there are a lot of possibilities for shopping. Probably the best town on Ischia to get good deals, from the best Italian brands to the lower end. Take a look right the center of town where the shopping street is, but don't miss the market stalls, where you can find bargains.
- In Serrara Fontana, do not miss Sant’Angelo, the coastal area of the town, for shopping and social life;
- In Barano which is also the commercial centre, is the square that faces the wonderful beach of Maronti.
Ceramics making and decorating is an ancient art. This tradition has been handed down through the centuries, developing new techniques and producing a wide variety of different objects. Ceramics include objects dedicated to two main categories: objects for domestic use, such as dishes, pots, small decorative sculptures, and objects for the building industry such as tiles for paving, roofing tiles, pipes, bath tubs and so on. Terracotta is made of common clay and contains many iron impurities. Assyrians, Babylonians and Egyptians used to dry products of this kind in the sun. If it is baked in an oven, it will become dark red, assuming the particular colour known as terra-cotta - varying in intensity as in relation to its chemical composition. It is suitable to be covered by transparent glazes which seal the pot and make it bright and smooth. Usually it will then be painted and decorated in many different ways.
On the island the main example of ceramics production is represented by the old workshop Mennella in Casamicciola or Taki in Forio: the workshop as well as a large exhibition of products are accessible to visitors. All around there are small pottery workshops.
It is not possible to know if it is because of that mountain that climbs towards the sky giving the idea of an island-not-island, or because of the mixture of land and sea that Ischia has kept that primitive and wild feeling that now meets modernity . For all this reasons this island is a priceless place, especially for the taste. It is an land island. Starting from the rabbit, always cooked in terracotta baking-pan with a clove of garlic, wine, little tomatoes, lard and local spices: poor ingredients for an old and very savoury dish.
Indivisible from the Ischitanian rabbit is this very savoury main course that is served with the very simple but very rich rabbit sauce. In latest years the pit rabbit became like a totem for the island. The rabbit is bred after the old manner. It lives its natural state: wild, in woods and mountains, and grows up (as for many centuries) in pits and only feeds on wild grass.
Snails are picked along the dry walls (parracine) and in woods. They are cooked in the traditional way with wild grass, especially in the internal part of the island.
An appetizer or main course (if served with mozzarella cheese), Ischitanian Caponata directly originates from the typical insalata cafona (peasant salad). The peasant used to eat it for lunch, in the countryside, during the working time. Nowadays there are many recipes, the oldest one combines little tomatoes, onion, stale bread or freselle, salad and wild grass.
Fish in Ischia does not disappoint. There are many ways to buy it fresh, directly in fish-shops or at the paranza(trawler) when fishermen come back from the sea. Typical of the island are macaroni with sea food, linguine with sea-urchins and different species of local fish served in many ways: marinated, cooked in the oven, with spaghetti. The paranza fry is very famous: a lot of fried little fish of different species depending on what fishermen found. Usually they bring basses white breams, giltheads, little tuna, crayfish, calamari, squids and langoustes that enrich the menu of restaurants and agritourisms.
Some passionately fond, produce honey made from bees wax, citrus fruits or flowers. The local honey has a consistency and a taste very different from the others.
There is a town between Barano and Serrara Fontana called buonopane (good bread). Here they have been making bread for centuries. Cooked only in wood ovens it is kneaded with the crisc’to a natural yeast of acid mother paste. The bread is still kneaded by hand, and its smell in the morning is stirring. All over the island. All over the island there are ovens making bread.
The rural culture is confirmed by the cultivation of many kinds of vegetables, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, courgettes, artichokes and garden rockets.
The legume are very good: lentils, chicklings, beans (they have curious and unusual varieties called pipers –purple red colored- and fascists - with black nuances).
The volcanic soil favours the growth of tomatoes. They are picked up in clusters and twisted to create the typical pendolikept in dry and fresh place.
Of course you'll also find all of the regional specialties (such as the original Mozzarella cheese) from Campania served on the island.
Restaurants and wine bars
- Emiddio's Ischia Porto, lungomare. Right down the street from the ferries imbarcations. Excellent food, generous portions, rapid service, reasonable prices.
- Ristorante Alberto, Via C. Colombo, 8 Ischia. The list of celebrities that have dined at the Ristorante Alberto includes names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Moss and Natasha Stefanenko. The restaurant's walls are simply huge windows, which emphasizes its location - directly on the beach. From indoors, the restaurant seems to be floating. Since 1950, the Ristorante Alberto has served the finest quality of seafood dishes, concentrating on flavour, freshness and appearance.
- Ristorante La Casereccia, Via Baiola, 193, Borbonica, Ischia. At the foot of Mount Epomeo, it has a sea view from above, this hidden gem is a true family restaurant. Each night Mamma Tina cooks up the best in Ischitan and Southern Italian. Standout menu items include the Grilled Swordfish, Stewed Rabbit, and Gnocchi Sorrentina. One of the cons of the family also bakes delicious pizzas using the freshest ingredients. Most ingredients, in fact, come from the family's own gardens. Wine and limoncello are homemade and delicious. Attire is casual, families and groups are welcome, and prices are reasonable. The family also runs a hotel and hostel.
- Ristorante Giardini Eden, Via Nuova Cartaromana 68 Ischia. The lure of the sea-side location and garden setting is nothing compared to the draw of the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen at the Ristorante Giardini Eden. Choices include fresh pasta and seafood, and delicately spiced risotto. Expect everything to look as good as it tastes.
- Ristorante Umberto a Mare, Via Soccorso, 2 Forio. This tiny restaurant has only ten tables. Its popularity stems from its view of the sea and the menu consisting of the local fishermen's daily catch.
- Ristorante Mamma Mia, Via S. Angelo 48 Serrara, Sant'Angelo. This family-owned establishment has been a local favourite for years. The atmosphere is warm and lively, and Mamma ensures only the highest quality of ingredients go into her cooking. The restaurant is located in the sea-side community of Sant' Angelo.
- Bar Ristorante Il Fortino Via Fortino, 37 Forio, Forio. The terrace of this fine restaurant opens up onto the sea for a lovely view during the day and at night. Some of their specialties include bruschetta and their filling salad Il Fortino.
On the Island of Ischia, the viticulture has millenarian origins. The cultivation technique is like the Greek traditional one. In fact, it is different from that one used in the middle of Italy and in the rest of the Campania province. From the coasts to the steep mountain slopes is where the vine is cultivated on proper terraced fields. Here is a list of the most famous and diffused kinds of grapes, all cultivated in the island from about 300 years ago: White Grapes - Biancolella, Forastera, and Arilla S. Lunardo; Red Grapes – Guarnaccia and Pedirosso o Pere e Palummo.
- Limoncello After a traditional meal mainly based on fish, it is very common in the Campania region to drink limoncello, usually after coffee. Limoncello is a traditional spirit distilled from lemon rinds, typical of Naples, Caserta and Ischia. It is a natural product, usually home-made from rinds of local lemons which are characterised by their large size and thick peel. Limoncello is made by steeping lemon rinds in alcohol and by adding water and sugar. It is usually served chilled as an appetizer or digestif. It is also mixed with champagne and white wine to prepare cocktails.
- Ischia Bianco Doc The soul of Ischia soul is not the sea, but farming and wine growing; once in fact an area of 3,000 hectares (now 800) was devoted to this main activity. Thanks to its commerce in wine, Casa d'Ambra was founded, with its premises at the port, making history in wine on the island and in southern Italy. DOC Ischia is among the oldest in Italy : it goes back in fact to the mid 1870s and covers the whole island. The vine heritage is quite varied and includes grapes such as Biancolella, Forastera, Grape Rilla, San Lunardo, Coglionara and Falanghina.The tendency has always been for table wines to accompany either seafood or land-produce dishes. The result is a particularly elegant wine, due mostly to the volcanic terrain and dry microclimate with good thermal conditions.
Albergo Hotel Villa in Lacco Ameno has direct access to the town center and the sea promenade through a private drive and is contiguous to thermal spas. It is only about 50 m to the sea and 20 m to the bus stop. It is a typical Mediterranean villa, encircled by lush orange and lemon trees, in a garden that offers cosy angles inviting to relaxation and to the sense of nature. There you can also enjoy a little swimming pool. In the evenings you can taste the typical Ischia dishes prepared by the owners and served under the arches of the porch.
- Case Vacanza Monti (in Lacco Ameno). These six apartments are really cheap and friendly-managed. Their owner, Antonietta, is a very nice person and always trying to help. The rents are good and there is a quite near beach (less than 10 m), La Spiaggia Del Fungo.
- La Beccacia Ischia, Via Cava Scialicco, +39 081994510, Email: email@example.com. Family-run hotel with delicious traditional traditional Italian food. This rustic, modern albergo is perched on a mountain with a breathtaking view of the beach. The Ristorante La Beccacia is a safe environment for children, and a welcoming home for all ages.
- Pietradonica, Via San Vito 1, Forio d'Ischia, +39 3460870005. Old farmhouse of 1700, offers double rooms faced a garden of spices, citrus plantations and banana-trees. The rooms, are furnished with bathrooms, bed-linen, bar fridge, coffee pot and tea-pot, heating and ventilation, colonial furnishing of the nineteenth-century. A common kitchen is located in the garden pavilion.
- Villa Spadara, Via Calosirto 66, Forio d'Ischia, ☏ . Old farmhouse receiving guests in a family ambience, with great flowers around. There is a wonderful terrace, a relaxing swimming pool with thermal water, and a great cuisine with local and fresh products, cooked with love following old family tradition. All the rooms are with bathroom and balcony, there is a bar and a lot of green space to walk and relax.
- Pensione Mena about 1 km East of Forio, near Campo Sportivo. Lovely room (53) overlooking the sea. Cost €35 pp B&B (€10 extra for half-board). Very welcoming. Small swimming pool. All other guests were Italian. Not much English or German spoken. Very helpful Romanian waitress.
- Villa Ravino, Via Prov.le Panza 140, Forio d'Ischia, ☏ . Botanical garden with a small lodge accommodation. A villa with self-catering apartment set in a botanical garden. Thermal pools, sauna, beauty corner, fitness corner, lounge bar, sea view, for an individual holiday in a family atmosphere. The garden, along with the mature areas around, is the result of 50 years of great passion and loving work of Signor Peppino, the owner of the villa. The exotic trees include palms, olive, lemon and orange.
- Pagoda Residence, Ischia Porto, Villa delle Fornaci 13, ☏ , fax: . Some units have kitchenettes. Restaurant (continental breakfast included), swimming pool, hot tubs, exercise room, access right on the water for swimming, snorkeling. No frontage on busy streets. Disembarking from the ferry, no cabby will take you there because it is only one block away. Staff is all polite, reception center personnel speak English.
- Hotel Annabelle, Via Federico Variopinto 6 - Ischia porto, ☏ , fax: . In the heart of the city, 300 meters from the beach. Very nice little hotel. The restaurant is very good and the rooms are big.
- Hotel Ape Regina, Via Cretaio 129 - Casamicciola Terme (under Monte Rotaro), ☏ , fax: . The hotel offers a breathtaking view on the sea side and the open marine landscape which will allow you to glimpse over the Italian mainland coast.
- Hotel Resort Punto Azzurro Ischia, Via Belvedere, 12, Forio d'Ischia, ☏ , fax: . Three-star hotel. The rooms are divided into singles and doubles, the rates changed according to the season and can be booked half or full board. Other services include the restaurant, swimming pool and the free transfer to the port, the Citara beach and the thermal park of Poseidon.
- Hotel Paradiso Terme.
- Ring Hostel, Via Gaetano Morgera n. 72, +39 339 470 2996, Fax. +39 081 987942 - In an old monastery, where it is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The hostel is 5 minutes by foot from both the town center of Forio and the closest beach. The hostel has free internet for all guests, as well as wireless capabilities for laptops. The common room has a big screen TV with lots of DVDs to rent, comfy couches, common kitchen, instruments to play, and a book exchange. Above it all, there is a comfortable terrace for watching sunsets and making friends. The hostel has one big dorm room, and then smaller rooms that can be single-sex, as well as doubles.
- Hotel Poggio del Sole, (Forio) Via Baiola 193, ☏ , fax: . Hotel Poggio del Sole (Hotel of the Sunny Hill) is a cosy, charming, family-owned and -operated hotel at the foot of Mount Epomeo. Walking distance from both the center of Forio and the sea. Views of the Mediterranean Sea, pool, solarium, internal parking.
- Rotonda Sul Mare Apartments, Via Aiemita 29, ☏ , fax: . The Rotonda Sul Mare offers private apartments with full kitchen and bathroom in a location directly on the beach. The Rotonda is located is just a few minutes walk from the center of Forio, one of the main towns on Ischia island. In addition to its great location, Rotonda provides free internet access, free kayak and canoe rental, and terraces for your enjoyment. Laundry facilities are on-site, and parking is available. During the summer, the Rotonda boasts a beautiful patio deck over the water, where you can spend your day in the sun, and walk down the steps directly into clear water on a private beach to cool off.
Ischia is generally a safe destination, even for women travelling alone. The local Police are also generally friendly if not always helpful. There are four main police forces in Italy: the Carabinieri (black uniform),military corp belong to the Ministry of Defence and perform a number of different duties; the Polizia di Stato (blue tunics and grey pants), civil corp, are part of the Ministry of Interior and perform general police duties such patrolling the highways; Polizia Municipale (city police) responsible for parking tickets, directing traffic, etc.; and Guardia di Finanza (grey uniforms) do customs work, but also check vehicles to make sure owners have paid proper car taxes. If you are robbed, try to find a police station and report it. This is essential to establishing a secure travel insurance claim.
In an emergency, call 113 (police) or 118 (medical first aid). Carry the address of your embassy or consulate.
From the ports of Forio and Ischia there are daily trips to the following destinations:
- Capri, Procida - neighboring islands
- Pompeii and Ercolano, Vesuvius
- Caserta - Royal Palace north of Naples