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Ischia is an island in the bay of Naples that takes approximately 40 minutes to reach by ferry. Ischia is often overlooked because of its smaller neighbor, Capri, to the southeast in the same bay. This is another oversight by travelers drawn to fame rather than knowledge of the area. Not to say that places that have built their fame are not spectacular, but they can fall victim to overhype.
The island of Ischia is more than four times the size of Capri which means Ischia has far more coastline than Capri. Day tripping tourists drawn to Capri leave Ischia with a more controlled population of vacationers and far more native Italians than foreign tourists. Thermal waters and mud offer therapeutic relaxation spots in addition to never wanting to leave the water.
Bread baking is still a fine art on Ischia and the methods by which they have been handcrafting the bread have been the same for centuries. If you are up early enough (or stay out late enough) you will be able to smell the bread baking. The aroma is intoxicating.
I first visited Ischia in August of 2013 as a several day trip away from my week in Napoli; courtesy of my Napolitano friends (Gianluigi), girlfriends (Laura), and family. Her family owns a very spacious gated home on the island with ideal access to public transport, grocery store, and easy walking distance from the main restaurant/bar scene. So, I unfortunately cannot recommend you a place to stay. I can only encourage you to visit. Buy your ferry ticket online or at the port of Napoli.
The island is beautiful. Lush greenery everywhere in combination with perfectly adorable Italian towns with narrow streets and a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea from anywhere you’ll probably be. Most of the time we were there it was only five of us. We spent time on two beaches but my favorite by far (which I still dream about) was Maronti Beach in Barano.
From where we were (near the town of Ischia) it is a relatively short public bus ride for a fare of €1-2. You will have plenty of good views along the ride so pick a seat by the window or make sure you have a standing view out the window. Food is very good as is expected in Italy but more expensive since you are on an island looking to capitalize from vacationers.
The last day I was in Ischia I spent several hours just lounging in the water on the shore, letting the waves wash up on me. The water was so warm. I never wanted to leave. And I couldn’t imagine leaving Ischia, Napoli, or Italy. My night was very memorable as we were met by a huge collection of Laura and Gian’s friends, including Laura’s very beautiful sister Claudia (did I just write that?!). We all had dinner at a restaurant looking out at Castello Aragonese with a massive fireworks display. I didn’t sleep that night and took the ferry back to Napoli with Gian the next morning.
Ischia. This is where you have to go.
Very special thanks once again to Gianluigi for arranging this, and to Laura for her generosity in opening up her grandmother’s vacation home to us. I will never forget my experiences there and the memories live very close to my heart. And lastly, a very special thanks to Claudia for bringing extra life to my last night with her infectious nature.
Photography by: Philip Moreira Photography