Summer holidays in Ischia
Summer holidays in Ischia
Posted on
April 16, 2024
achilleas petris

 If you have been to Naples, you know sea culture is deeply ingrained in the city's history, identity, and daily life. Located on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Naples has a long-standing relationship with its mare (sea) dating back to when the city itself was founded by Greek settlers in the 8th century BC, quickly becoming a significant port and trading hub in the Mediterranean still to this day. Today, Naples' coastal location has shaped its lifestyle. If you have encountered a Neapolitan born and bred in this port city, then you know they couldn't exist without being greeted by the towering shadows of Vesuvius and the coastline waves each day. Along the port in the distance, visitors and citizens alike can point to the beginning outlines of the Amalfi Coast, the lingering face of upscale Capri, and the coastlines of the city's luscious hilly coastal neighborhood of Posillipo. 

With each day that passes, inching closer and closer to summer, there is a reawakening in the city that can be felt all the way north to Rome or south to Bari. The way Neapolitans talk goes from dull to dark to utter delight because carefree beach days are on the horizon. Before the high heat of the summer months begins, locals enjoy walkable waterfront promenades to lay a towel and dip, including popular Mergellina to cliff-side Marechiaro. But as the temperatures turn from 25 Celsius to raging 40, the city becomes nearly unbearable, and Neapolitans turn to their dearest neighboring friends: the volcanic gulf islands of the city. 

Before meeting my Neapolitan partner, I had regularly frequented the island of Capri, synonymous with luxury, glamor, and not to mention, overpriced, and have paid a visit to Procida, the smallest island in Naples' bay that offers unspoiled charm and colorful character. Still, I had yet to experience the biggest island of the bunch: Ischia. 

Known for its thermal springs and five-star hotels paired with a laid-back attitude, open beaches, casual piazzas, and beautiful landscapes, Ischia has long been popular with Neapolitans and Italians alike during the hazy months of July and August. Growing up, I had heard of this mysterious island, as my immigrant grandparents would spend most of the 1970s going to the "other island of Capri" that no American could pronounce, but I had never dipped my toes until being adopted into my partner's big Neapolitan family last summer. Like his family, the story goes for most other Neapolitan families alike: the entire year leading up to July and August is spent living an everyday life only to prepare to live a new one: pausing work and city life and leaving all of its chaos behind. And no, these families aren't necessarily blessed with unlimited incomes and secondary beach houses, but hard work, long winter months, and a strong desire to give the gift to each generation and experience Ischian life on the island at least a small portion of the year. 

Reaching to Ischia:

Arriving on the big island of Ischia from Naples is scenic and unbelievably convenient, unlike other destinations dotted along the Amalfi Coast. The main port of Naples offers ferry services with frequent departure times throughout the day to Ischia, departing from Molo Beverello and Calata di Massa, located in the center of Naples near Piazza Municipio. The journey can take 40 minutes to an hour, but sit back and enjoy smooth sailing and picturesque views of Naples and Procida. 

Exploring Ischia:

Explore Ischia slowly and thoroughly for an authentic taste of estate italiana (Italian summer), or, even more so, estate Napoletana (Neapolitan summer). Unlike walkable Capri, Ischia is nearly five times bigger, with six explorable towns. For first-time visitors, Ischia Porto is the island's main town and commercial hub, directly near the port where ferries arrive from the mainland, and features a lively waterfront promenade, bustling streets filled with walkable shops, restaurants, and cafes, and not to mention one of the most iconic landmarks on the entire island: Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle perched on a rocky islet. Traveling to the west of the island is Forio, the biggest town known for its colorful gardens and open-space beaches, like Citara Beach, perfect for travelers seeking relaxation and culture. Sant'Angelo is a charming village located on the southern coast of Ischia, accessible only by boat or footpath, paired with whitewashed houses that genuinely give the fishing village "vibes." 

If indulgence and relaxation are your ideal vacation goals, head to Casamicciola Terme, a spa town on the northern coast. Renowned for its thermal springs and wellness facilities, Casamicciola Terme offers historic thermal baths, elegant villas, and state-of-the-art spas. Lacco Ameno is a charming seaside town on the northwestern coast, known for its sandy beaches and Greek archaeological sites. Lastly, Barano d'Ischia is a traditional village nestled in the steep hills of southeastern Ischia. Barano d'Ischia offers visitors a glimpse of rural life on the island, surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and citrus orchards, and is my personal favorite. 

Explore more of our travel blogs here.

Words by Gabriela R. Proietti

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