Ischia is the largest island in the Bay of Naples and is renowned for beaches, thermal springs and therapeutic mud baths.

Did I lose my heart to the hot sands and cool waves?…to the volcanic beaches fronting the rocky cliffs of the Tyrrhenian coast where the island meets the crisp metallic brilliance of the Mediterranean Sea, a clear blue the hue of smurf blue gelato?…perhaps…

The traffic on the steep, twisted hills of Ischia is startling…the 3-wheeled Piaggio pick-ups struggling on the incline…a widening of the road, the cars accelerate to overtake while scooters zoom up and down the white line in the centre of the road, oblivious to each other and everyone else…

A poor community reliant on tourism – the circular ring road reveals one long continuous town despite place names suggesting otherwise, built up to cater for the influx of tourism…whitewashed single storey block houses, some modernised with a second storey addition, some not even whitewashed…restaurants, bars and hotels, some still stuck in another decade, many more retaining a timeless rustic allure…

What to do:

  • Linger in Sant’Angelo, a fishing village set on a narrow isthmus connecting to a tiny islet. While not big, the rock is worth climbing for great pictures of the stunning views back onto the island.

Unfortunately the village is overrun with tourists, souvenir shops, hawkers and inflated prices – what’s real about this place? Still it retains an Italian charm – the chaotic traffic…the party sound of the local buses’ horns…the little wooden water taxis…the brightly coloured restaurants…the precipitous cliffs…the flowerbeds on the promenade – this attention to detail in the face of so many strangers is inspiring…

  • There is a nice beach (Maronti) east of here though the sand is grainy. Check out Fumarole, a spot where steam emerges from under the rocks and where the sand, heated from beneath, is 100oC! The Terme Cavascura is at the end of a mini-gorge, worth the walk in itself…
  • Climb Monte Epomeo, a now dormant volcano that towers over Sant’Angelo. Buses go as far as Fontana leaving you a 50 minute walk to the summit.
  • Visit Ischia Porto

Though this is where most of the ferries arrive it is really a charming town, an interesting mix of locals and foreigners…depending on where you go…

Get away from the port as soon as you can to check out the beaches. Walk down via Roma to Spiaggia San Pietro…lovely sand, all amenities but take care of the water – all the ferries pass through this way. Corso Vittoria Colonna will take you to the quieter, cleaner Spiaggia dei Pescatori. On the way back, tiramisù gelato at da Ciccio is a must.

I missed out on visiting the Castello Aragonese near the port, the Chiesa Soccorso and La Mortella Gardens in Forio and any one of the many thermal water spas on the island. One of many reasons to return to Ischia in the future…

Top Tips:
Stay at Paradise Beach Hostel – set down from the road, nestled on the cliffside among gardens and vines, with amazing sea views, a pool, two gorgeous dogs, group dinners and wonderful staff…a world apart from all the rest…

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Ischia
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Piaggio three-wheeled truck common on the island
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Sant’Angelo
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Isthmus of Sant’Angelo
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Pharmacy sign at Sant’Angelo
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View of Sant’Angelo
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Restaurant in Sant’Angelo
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Water taxi at Maronti beach
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Fumarole – sands heated to 100 degrees Celsius!
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Thermal waters near Fumarole
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Beach at Ischia Porto
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Ischia Porto
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Shopping street in Ischia Porto
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Sunset from Paradise Beach Hostel, Ischia
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