The beautiful volcanic island of Ischia is less known to foreign visitors that its famous neighbor Capri. However, Ischia is certainly one of the top places to visit in Italy as it has everything a perfect destination can offer: stunning vistas, white sand beaches, fantastic walking trails, delicious food, excellent boutiques and plenty of sightseeing opportunities.
One of the main attractions on Ischia is its thermal water. In numerous parks and spa centers tourists can enjoy thermal swimming pools, water therapies and hot sand baths. Many restaurants use the natural hot fissures (vapors caused by the underground volcanic activity) at the Fumarole beach to cook meals in the sand. Chicken wrapped in foil cooks in a sand pit in about an hour and tastes delicious!
At Cavascura you can visit a simple thermal baths complex with grottoes and a natural sauna. The complex has been here since Roman times and little has changed in the surroundings: the same baths carved in the rock are used today as thousands of years ago, and you still have to walk for about 20 minutes along the beach to reach the hidden grottoes of Cavascura.
Those who love hiking have plenty of walking routes to choose from. You have to be quite fit to explore Ischia on foot but it is certainly worth an effort. The trails take you through small vineyards, small villages, to dizzyingly high cliff tops, tufa stone caves and old churches. Mount Epomeo is the highest peak on Ischia that offers breathtaking views over the Gulf of Naples, Capri and Procida. The climb to the top is quite demanding but once you reach it you can refuel at bar and restaurant that offer some good local dishes.
Ischia is also famous for its winemaking traditions that go back the ancient Greek settlers on the island. The white Biancolella, red Per’ e Palumm and dessert Per’ e Palumm Passito wines are well known to connoisseurs worldwide. There are a few small vineyards in Ischia that offer tours and tastings.
Restaurants on the island tend to be on the pricey side but the serve excellent food accompanied by splendid sea views. Make sure you try the traditional rabbit dish “all’ischitana”, a seafood pasta “spaghetti alla vongola” and linguine with sea urchins. For the ultimate Ischia experience, grab some fish and mussels from a local market and head to the Fumarole beach for a romantic picnic under the stars with seafood baked in the hot sand. Ischia is definitely one of the top places to visit in Italy ! Is there anything more romantic than that?
Photos by: Michel Rodriguez, Andrew Farquhar, Francesca Lucchese.