The most beautiful island in the center of Italy, Ischia is a volcanic paradise renowned worldwide for its curative spas and natural hot springs. It lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples with its 21 miles of varied coastline, geysers, volcanic mud, thermal spas, fertile lush valleys, and its green mountains in the middle. It welcomes up to 6 million visitors per year; April, May, June, September and October are the best times to visit it, if you like a serene vacation. In July and August there are more events, but there are also more tourists, especially young tourists. If you enjoy the nightlife, that’s the best time to go. There are five main towns you can visit: Ischia, Barano d'Ischia, Casamicciola Terme, Forio, Lacco Ameno and Serrara Fontana.
There are many cultural and artistic sites distributed throughout the island, like the Aragonese Castle, the Church of the Immacolata, and the Cathedral of Assunta in Ischia Ponte; Gardens of La Mortella and of Villa Ravino in Forio; Villa La Colombaia in Lacco Ameno.
Cherry on the cake, the Thermal Poseidon Gardens, a haven of peace with 22 pools (Thermal, Kneipp, ocean-water) with temperatures that vary from 82° to 104°, a Roman Sauna, hydro massage, a large private beach, 15 acres of ecologically intact gardens, all equipped with very comfortable lounge-chairs, tables, and beach-umbrellas. A whole day pass, from 9am to 7pm, 10hrs, costs about $40, and it is worth every penny. It you are on a tight budget, you can bring food instead of using their facilities, and there are many water fountains so you don’t need to buy bottled water. You could also choose the more affordable half-day option. There are other beautiful thermal gardens on the island, but Poseidon is a must-live experience.
Ischia is known for its clay deposits, it has a long established tradition for ceramics and pottery production documented over the past 2,000 years that is still alive today. You can find contemporary art and hand-painted traditional souvenirs almost everywhere, miles of vibrant charming kitchenware, vases, tiles, and so on.
Warm climate, mineral rich soil, Ischia is the perfect place for growing fruit and vegetables to go with your fresh shellfish and catch of the day, or with your Coniglio all'ischitana, local rabbit stewed in tomatoes, white wine, garlic and herbs. Being in the Gulf of Naples, Ischia also offers great neapolitan pizza, calzoni, zucchini flowers, cauliflowers, fried in a tasty light dough, desserts like sfogliatelle, pastiera, gelato and baba’. And many incredible pasta dishes with fish and seafood sauces to make your mouth water.
Considering that you are surrounded by magnificent beaches, fed delicious food, pampered in the numerous spas, it is more than enough to justify at least a week vacation. Add a couple of days in Naples, and you will have the perfect 10 days.
For its past, Ischia had a very tumultuos history: an acropolis site of the Monte Vico area shows that it was inhabited from the Bronze Age; Euboean Greeks from Eretria and Chalcis arrived in the 8th century BC to establish an emporium for trade with the Etruscans of the mainland. This settlement was home to a mixed population of Greeks, Etruscans, and Phoenicians who became successful through trade in iron, ceramic, with the mainland; at its peak, it was home to about 10,000 people.
Then the Romans seized it in 322 BC and occupied it until 6 AD, when Emperor Augustus restored the island to Naples in exchange for Capri. Devastated by the Saracens in 813 and 847; occupied by Henry II of Germany in 1004; by Norman Roger II of Sicily in 1130; raided by the Pisans in 1135 and 1137; reoccupied by the Suebi and then the Angevins until, after the Sicilian Vespers in 1282, the islanders rebelled. Peace did not last: the island was retaken by the Angevins the following year. War in paradise continued on and off for the next 600 years with the Aragoneses, the pirates, the Austrians, the Bourbons, until Italy finally became a Republic.