06/2005 - Italy, Ischia Island

9-day trip to Italy – Ischia Island – visiting Ischia Porto, Ischia Ponte, Lacco Ameno, Casamicciola Terme, Villa La Colombaia, Gardens of La Mortella, Forio, Citara Beach, Poseidon Gardens, Sant’Angelo d’Ischia, Ciglio, Serrara, Fontana, Buonopane, Barano d’Ischia, Maronti Beach, Aragonese Castle.

The beautiful island of Ischia has an harbour formed from the cone of a volcano. Ischia is composed of two parts: the modern and lively Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte , which is the historical core , the picturesque old fishing village, near the Aragonese castle .
In order to know the island there is no better way than to make a tour all around it both by sea and by land as I show in my photo gallery.
A short comment about Ischia inhabitants whom I called the “Swiss” of Campania for their hard work and for the perfect cleanliness of the island.
On the other hand they are exquisitely typical Campania people for their kindness and sympathy.

Lacco Ameno is famous for his tuff rock “Fungo” (Mushroom), a little island in front of the port .
Its presence offers delicious panoramic views especially from the nearby headland. Proceeding towards the north eastern part of the island it is possible to visit the residence of Luchino Visconti : Villa La Colombaia. It was abandoned for several years after the death of the film director, today it is a museum .

In Forio, near Punta Caruso and the beach of San Francesco da Paola ( named after the nearby homonymous church), there are the Gardens of La Mortella designed by the Englishman Sir William Walton in a large terraced park with numerous and valuable plants, especially tropical ones . The Gardens are very nice, so nice to have won the award for ” the most beautiful park in Italy for the year 2004″.

Forio is the most picturesque town in the island; it is dominated by Mount Epomeo on whose slopes there are the most valuable vineyards of the island. The city is dominated by several large towers, a remnant of the original sixteen towers, which were built as a defense from the pirates’ attacks. Sheer above the sea, on a promontory, we visited the white and picturesque church of the Madonna del Soccorso.
From the square in front of the church, we could admire a wonderful view of the sea; sometimes, at sunset, you may observe a mysterious “green ray” on the horizon while the Pontine islands are reflected above, in the sky, for the Fata Morgana phenomenon (a mirage caused by an optical phenomenon).
There are numerous shops of gastronomic specialities, in particular “Serpico” and the excellent restaurant “Il Saturnino .

Passed Forio we met the beautiful Citara Beach, dedicated to Citarea Venus in ancient times. In this location we found the Poseidon Gardens in which there are several swimming pools with sulphurous water at different degrees .

Going further there are several villages, but it is towards the sea that you enjoy the most beautiful views. From the lavic promontory of Punta Imperatore there is a wide panorama that ranges from Monte Circeo, on the coast of Lazio, to the the Sorrentine peninsula, on coast of Campania. At Punta Chiarita you can reach the sea and have a swim in the warm waters of Sorgeto (it is possible to swim all year long). After a few kilometers , preceded by extensive and beautiful views from the top , we reached the fishing village of Sant’Angelo d’ Ischia.
It is placed in a picturesque location, between two bays, characterized by colourful houses up the promontory and narrow pedestrian streets where only small electric vehicles supplied by the hotels can run.

Going forward into the interior of the island, beyond the village of Panza, we met the village of Ciglio where many houses have been built into huge boulders of trachyte .
The road continued to climb. First we met Serrara where, from the panoramic terrace , we could enjoy a beautiful view which goes from Punta Imperatore , on the right, to Punta San Pancrazio , on the left. In the open sea you can see the Isle of Capri and below the promontory of Sant’Angelo d’ Ischia. In this location, at the restaurant “Il Bracconiere” (the Poacher)” you can eat one of the gastronomic specialties of Ischia: “il coniglio alla cacciatora” (that is to say rabbit meat) .
To be digested with an excellent homemade “rucolino” (a typical wine) .
We reached the village of Fontana, the highest on the island at 452 meters above sea level, then Buonopane another village, known for its hot spring Nitroli (famous since Roman times ), and finally Barano d’Ischia , located in one of the most beautiful positions of the island. From Barano a winding road brought us down to the sea offering numerous sights of the underlying enchanting Maronti Beach protected by the high and green coast.
I consider Maronti Beach is the most privileged location both for its beautiful beach and the panoramic view offered (Sant’ Angelo d’ Ischia on the right and the Isle of Capri on the sea) .
There are numerous springs which guarantee the presence of excellent spas.
In this town I stayed in the excellent San Giorgio Terme Hotel.

The final part of the tour of the island took us in Buceto where we passed under the arches of the aqueduct before reaching Ischia Ponte to visit the Aragonese Castle which nowadays is private and offers excellent photographic views . We paid to visit the castle, even if the ancient vicissitudes caused very heavy destructions. The Cathedral is unroofed while the crypt below is well restored and decorated with frescoes from the fourteenth century onwards . Another well preserved site is the underground cemetery of the nuns of the Clarisses Convent. Walking along the paths of the Aragonese Castle, in particular the Path of the Sun, among rich plantations and Mediterranean vegetation , we reached the Prisons and the Terrace of the olive trees where we could enjoy a wide view of the island of Procida and the Gulf of Naples.