Ischia is pure, authentic Italy, quiet and unassuming yet full of charm. A short boat or ferry ride from Naples and Italy’s Amalfi Coast, this island has drawn visitors to its mineral-rich thermal springs since Roman times.
Though the compact volcanic isle (roughly eight kilometres wide and six kilometres long) is best known for these therapeutic hot springs, Ischia offers an abundance of other cultural attractions, all designed to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
Chiesa del Soccorso
Overlooking the sea in the town of Forio on Ischia’s west coast, the Chiesa del Soccorso is an ancient, whitewashed church, which began as an Augustinian monastery in the 1300s and has since served as a beacon for sailors returning home.
Castello Aragonese d’Ischia
The Castello Aragonese d’Ischia occupies a vast, rocky islet, which connects to the village of Ischia Ponte via a short land bridge. This formidable castle has luminous frescoes inspired by fourteenth-century Florentine painter Giotto. From its lofty terraces, you can see the Gulf of Naples and a series of volcanoes.
Hot Springs and Healing Waters
Ischia’s mineral-rich hot springs are credited with easing a host of ailments, including circulatory issues and arthritis. Visit Negombo Thermal Gardens to dip into dozens of thermal pools heated to different temperatures. Alternatively, five-star resorts Mezzatorre and Terme Manzi both use thermal waters from their private hot springs for their renowned hydro treatments.
Ischia has winemaking roots reaching back more than two and a half millennia to Greek times. Take an island winery tour that stops at Cenatiempo Vini d’Ischia, which operates on the site of an old Greek vineyard. During tours of its Kalimera plantation, the family-run organic winery provides guests with a selection of their wines (be sure to try the rosato and gran Tifeo bianco), accompanied by fresh food grown in their gardens.
Perrazzo Vini d’Ischia
Established in 1880, Perrazzo Vini d’Ischia is purported to be the island’s oldest wine vendor. Located at Ischia’s port, the shop has a long, almost 2000-year-old grotto built into a hillside by Romans to serve as a wine cellar. Rustic bottles and winemaking equipment from decades past decorate the cave, which stays around 15 degrees Celsius. For a special souvenir, pick up a bottle of Rucolino, an Ischian liqueur made from rocket, citrus, and spices.
Visit British composer William Walton’s five-acre home near Forio and stroll past fountains and ponds along hillside paths. After moving here in the mid-twentieth century, the composer’s family grew myrtle bushes (whose leaves and berries flavour mortella, a potent Italian liqueur), as well as orchids, rosemary, and lavender.
Private Boat Tours
Get a watery view of Ischia hopping from one coastal village to another on a private boat tour. Maronti is a thermal beach with sand so hot that locals bury pots in it to cook stews. Nearby Sant’Angelo is a car-free fishing hamlet home to family restaurants with alfresco seating.
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