A holiday to the island of Ischia will give you an insight into a side of Italy you’ve never seen before. Far from the busy modern metropolitan cities of the mainland, Ischia is the largest of a group of islands off of the Gulf of Naples called the Phelgreans. Located roughly 30 kilometres from the Neapolitan coastline in the famously beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea, Ischia has a dramatic volcanic landscape filled with natural wonders. Here you’ll be able to take full advantage of your beautiful surroundings by taking a dip in a naturally heated thermal spa, overlooking some stunning mountain scenery. But appreciating this picturesque location doesn’t mean you need to relax the whole time, and if you want to get active you can also get stuck into some of the many activities on offer on the island, including hiking, swimming, cycling and snorkelling.
Along with the breathtaking natural landscape, Ischia also boasts enough historical landmarks to rival mainland Italy, from half buried ancient necropolises to the medieval towns which stretch along the coastline. After a long day spent exploring the landscape, seeing the sights or playing at the seaside, rejuvenate yourself by visiting one of the many natural spas. Since the days of ancient Roman rule, locals and visitors alike have made the most of the rich, beneficial earth of Ischia. Now, with a visit to one of the many spas dotted around the island, such as Negombo or Poseidon Gardens, you can soak in a mineral rich thermal pool or take in the natural healing properties of Mount Epemeo’s volcanic mud. If your idea of a dream evening involves a bottle of merlot rather than a bath of mud, then you can also unwind with fun and relaxing nights out. The island has a wine heritage which dates back thousands of years. The vineyards here still produce some of Europe’s most sought after wines which can be enjoyed on the terrace of a local bar while watching the sunset.
Wine and Dine
Food in Ischia revolves around the natural produce from the mountains and the sea, and you’ll find lots of fresh meat from the immediate vicinity is served up in the restaurants. Wild rabbit is a particular favourite and has been a speciality here for as long as anyone can remember. You’ll find it cooked with wine, garlic and tomatoes in terracotta pots. Snails are also cooked with wild grass, either as an appetiser or a main course with mozzarella, tomatoes, onion and salad. As you’d expect from an island surrounded by fertile seas, fresh fish is very much on the menu, and you’ll find lots of seafood of all kinds including calamari, langoustines and sea urchins. The volcanic soil is particularly fertile so expect lots of delicious vegetables with all your meals. Be sure to try the local bread, perhaps with some of the honey made with beeswax, fruit and flowers.
If you’re bringing your family on a holiday to Ischia, there’s lots to do that will keep everyone entertained no matter how old they are. One of the best things about taking a family holiday to the island is that nature provides a lot of free places to go for families with young children. The most obvious of these is also one of the best, and that’s the beach. With golden sands and lots of quiet spots to choose from, adults will love relaxing in the sunshine while kids splash in the sea or make sandcastles. Another great natural spot for kids and adults alike are the pine forests, where you can walk around a fairytale-like wonderland and spot wild animals and flowers, as well as playgrounds here and there. A little further out, Perris Park has lots of rides for kids, and is worth a day trip.
Action and Adventure
There are miles and miles of footpaths leading across the countryside of Ischia. Keen hikers can take challenging treks through rugged natural scenery or take more relaxed walks through fields and woodland. You’ll be treated to first class views and bright Mediterranean sunshine during your walk, whichever path you choose. The highest point of the island is Mount Epemeo. If you feel up to the challenge of hiking to the 788 metre peak of this mountain, you’ll be rewarded with unbeatable views of Ischia’s oak and beech forests, as well as its beaches and towns. Another wonderful way to get to know your surroundings is to take a horseback ride through the ancient mule tracks which lead from the woods up into Mount Epemeo. These trails are ideally suited to nature lovers, whether you're on a romantic day out for two or looking for an activity the whole family can enjoy.
Life's a Beach
When you’ve had your fill of culture and history, hit one of the many beaches that the island has to offer. Almost the entire shoreline of Ischia is covered with beaches, both tiny little coves and large sandy stretches, so you’ll easily find the perfect spot to sunbathe. And if laying around all day is a little too lazy for you, the crystal clear, warm waters of these bays mean that families can enjoy swimming and fun water sports almost all year round. If you’re travelling as a couple and looking for a little seclusion away from the privacy of the hotels, hire a water taxi to one of the mini islands dotted along the waterfront where you can find even more sandy seafront spots to relax on. Whatever you’re looking for from your holiday in Ischia, we have the perfect deal for you.
A holiday in Ischia means lots of relaxed nights, staying out late and socialising, but without the intense and energetic nightlife of more metropolitan destinations. The warm evenings are perfect for laid back lounging on terraces outside late night cafés, watching the world go by. Join the locals in this elegant way of life, far from the nightclubs and noise of the big mainland cities. The harbour is a great backdrop to evening drinks, and is a busy focal point in the evenings where people gather in the many bars, restaurants and cafes. Most food and drink spots have an outdoor seating area, and some are right on the beach so you can watch the sunset as you enjoy a drink, a meal or just some ice cream. Catch one of the live classical or jazz concerts that run from April until November in the gardens of Villa La Mortella.
Sunbathing or walking on the idyllic beaches of Ischia is part of the ultimate romantic break, but the beach isn’t the only thing the nature of this island can bring to a couples’ holiday. The warm thermal springs of Ischia create natural hot baths in the outdoors, and you can experience the therapeutic benefits of these springs all over the island, including in caves and thermal gardens. Another benefit of choosing this volcanic island for your romantic holiday is the fertile soil that can be turned into Ischia mud, a relaxation, health and beauty treatment But even when you’re not immersed in the mud or hot springs, simply walking around the island among all the tropical greenery is incredibly romantic. Find a vineyard or two for a drink, and dine in restaurants by the sea, as you experience an unforgettable break for two.
Experiencing the hot thermal springs and Ischia mud is as much a cultural experience as a therapeutic one, because these are just two of the natural wonders that have made this island unique and shaped its settlement history. It’s been colonised by the Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Turks and more mainly because of everything nature provides here. Walking around the island will give you a glimpse into some of this rich history, with historic buildings like Castello Aragonese, a castle from 474BC that was repurposed in 1441, and the Soccorso’s church. There are many ancient watchtowers around the coastline, including Guevara Tower, which is one of the best known sights on the island, it’s even said that Michelangelo once stayed there. Also on the island worth a visit are a cultural institute dedicated to Luchino Visconti, the Angelo Rizzolo Museum, and the Pithecusae Archeological Museum.