Admitted: my week spent in Italy didn’t start great, but it didn’t really stop me on trying to enjoy my stay there to the fullest. Because things happen sometimes and the best thing possible is to take it how they are. So if you’re might seeking a little island getaway for this early fall, I got you covered, welcome to beautiful Ischia!
What happened? Well, on the same night I arrived in Naples, my whole handbag got stolen and there wasn’t much to do about it. It was ripped off me from a rolling scooter, as soon as I noticed the guy was already around the corner. As a local who partially lived here for a while with my family, I was always well aware that theft is daily bread for a lot of people here. Now I can proudly say that I experienced everything to the bits live, standing in an alley at 1am with no ID, no phone, no money, even my house keys – all gone, goodbye. I was unattentive because nothing ever happened to me even when I was alone. So tip from the local taxi driver: wear a bag with a maximum of 10 Euros in cash in it, everything else should be in the front pocket of your pants. A resting bitch face could help (as a woman) when in a sketchy situation.
But let’s go back to the bright side of life: my night spent in Naples city has the only purpose to be able to go to the port in the early morning after, to catch the ferry that goes to Ischia. The ride was a short hour with an in between stop in Procida, the smallest of the three Islands in the bay of Naples. Ischia is the biggest of the three sisters and the most majestic: the greenery here can’t be overlooked, the rock formations down to the water are gorgeous and I might allow myself to say that it’s less polished than hyped Capri.
The island is huge, it takes one hour by car from one end to the other. Depending on the length of your stay, choose your hotel in a central area, or if you stay longer, then maybe do location hopping. We decided to stay in Ischia Ponte, a locality next to the busy port. It was perfect because it allowed us to go out for a stroll day or night, walk through the little village, enjoying local shops, the view on Castello Aragonese and to sit for an aperitivo on plastic chairs in a tiny outdoor bar by the water.
Our homebase was the hotel Miramare e Castello, a five star hotel that keeps a homey atmosphere with its small size. It was perfect for us since it was right next to the water taxi station, something you might want to use to reach places faster, and, to be honest, it’s a fun thing to do. Tiles are a big thing on the island and I don’t mind them, more photos do to, I love them! The breakfast room has them in white and blue, which makes it insanely beautiful paired with the white curtains flowing along with the breeze – princess times ahead! There was a private beach plus a direct access to the turquoise waters of the Thyrrenean Sea, they’re crystal clear also thanks to the pebbles on the ground. One of the most breathtaking things about this hotel was the rooftop terrace, where it was easy to enjoy aperitivos, an exquisite dinner with a bomb view to the Castello Aragonese and two jacuzzis.
This sounds like I dream, I know. We somehow managed to get out and explore Ischia Ponte too, even if sometimes it was quite hard to leave the attentive service we got at the hotel. We went to up to the Castello Aragonese one afternoon, and strolled around this dope piece of construction, that once was a fortress. Now the churches up there are used as art spaces, the view over the island is beautiful from every corner and there is plenty of shade to enjoy an aperitivo – I will use the word aperitivo a lot, sorry! In fact, we discovered the Limoncello Spritz here, which sounds weird in the beginning but it’s equally delicious as the classic one with Aperol.
Another great thing to do by water taxi is to visit the beach of Cartaromana. Ischia is famous for its thermal springs and there are several beaches where the healing waters flow into the sea – at some places they even keep the water so warm that it’s still possible for the locals to go for a swim. Cartaromana is not only famous for that, but also because there were found a few roman pieces of ruins and it’s also quite an adventure to get here by walk. You’ll have to pass a cemetery and walk down (and then up to go back) 100 steps. But I promise it’s really worth it. This beach is very secluded, the only thing that stands here is the Hotel Da Maria, that includes a restaurant. Please, you have to come here for lunch! It’s a typical local guesthouse with no fuzz, but delicious food and mainly local guests. You will overlook the water and the famous Sant’Anna Rocks while eating, to afterwards be using their beach chairs for free. Doesn’t it sound like a deal?
How to get here: There are several companies that will take you to Ischia from Naples. I booked two return tickets at Caremar and paid about 80 Euros for the fastest ride.
Where to stay: If you want the full service and feel luxurious, Miramare e Castello is your choice. The rooms are small but very cosy with an own balcony, the restaurants are all yummy and the staff is very attentive and helpful if you need any tips. Three nights with breakfast included will cost you around 600 Euros for a double room.
If you like to downsize and just be chill, then really go Da Maria. It would have been my second choice. Three nights during high season will cost you around 300 Euros.
What to do: If you’re a sunset person take a trip to Forio. I never made it there due to time issues, but it seems to be gorgeous town to have dinner at. The Castello Aragonese with its ruins and lovely views are really worth the money. If you happen to be here by the beginning of August, join the town festivities in Ischia Ponte, where boats will be transformed into stages, celebrating the Neapolitan culture and at the end of the night you’ll enjoy the best fireworks coming out of the fortress. You can walk up there or take the elevator, entrance fee is 10 Euros.
Where to eat: The rooftop restaurant La Lampara is a must, the view is right, the food from Chef Ciro Calise is a masterpiece and the furniture in the whole house is just to die for. Da Maria is local, loud, proud and delicious!