dining in Ischia

The Top Three Fine-Dining Restaurants in Ischia

Southern Italy has an impressive reputation for gourmet cuisine, and the fine dining restaurants in Ischia are no exception. There are countless reasons to visit our beautiful island – delectable and exquisite Mediterranean food is just one of them.  Your taste buds simply won’t forgive you if you don’t pay a visit to one of our favorite fine-dining restaurants!

Umberto a Mare

fine dining restaurants in Ischia

This restaurant boasts exceptionally beautiful surroundings. Photo credit: Umberto a Mare

An intimate and incredibly exquisite restaurant nestled in a stunning location, Umberto a Mare boasts possibly the most spectacular views of our favorite fine-dining restaurants in Ischia. If you want to enjoy a stunning vista whilst you eat, then look no further! You can enjoy the beautiful visuals at any time of day, but we wholeheartedly recommend watching the sunset.

And there’s more – the cuisine is simply exceptional. Divinely presented, you’ll find gourmet takes on local and traditional classics which are guaranteed to make your mouth water. Sure – Umberto a Mare is fare from the cheapest restaurant in Ischia, but you truly get what you pay for. For us, the delectable entrées – or i primi, as we say in Italian – were a cut above the rest. The menu is constantly changing, but consistently tasty. Make sure you pay a visit!

Click here to find out more about Umberto a Mare…

Saturnino

Fine dining in it’s truest sense

Ah – Saturnino. Yet another one of the fine-dining restaurants in Ischia which is truly divine! Their Mediterranean cuisine oozes style, simplicity and genuine passion. Our favorite dish was the Crudités of locally-caught fish, expertly seasoned and paired with herbs and vegetables. However, we the quality and class of presentation outstanding for everything we tried!

Star of the show is Ciro Mattera, the free-spirited chef. His expertise and love of ingredients are part of what makes Saturino so special. His cooking blends authenticity and emotion, simplicity and genius. Mattera is the master behind everything, from the highly personalized eight-course taster menu to the fresh homemade bread served on entry.

Also noteworthy at Saturino is the extensive list of wines from over 200 international labels. Hand-picked and paired, they are the perfect partner for what promises to be an unforgettable dining experience.

Click here to find out more about Saturino…

Daní Maison

An exclusive dining experience. Photo credit: Daní Maison

Last on our list is Daní Maison – the restaurant where art meets cuisine. The food at this Michelin starred gem is beyond extraordinary, which has led to a degree of fame for chef Nino Di Costanzo. You would be hard pushed to find anywhere else in Ischia where every dish is so beautifully and uniquely presented.

The service is incredibly attentive and the venue -the house of Di Costanzo’s grandparents – makes for an exclusive setting. Like many of the other fine-dining restaurants in Ischia, traditional Mediterranean flavors appear consistently throughout the menu. As is to be expected though, each dish is perfectly prepared, with no small detail overlooked. The lip-smacking flavor in every bite has made Daní Maison the talk of the town.

Click here to find out more about Daní Maison…

Now that you’ve enjoyed our favorite fine-dining restaurants you’ll need somewhere to stay – why not check out our very own luxury villa on Ischia, Torre Dell’Aquila?

Our Guide to the Mouth-Watering Wines of Ischia

A gorgeous Mediterranean climate and fertile volcanic soil have cemented the wines of Ischia as firm favorites. The island is a paradise for vineyards! Many of Ischia’s high quality wines are known around the world. Since ancient times, wine has been one of the most important exports! It’s one of the many highlights of this beautiful island.

Neither connoisseurs nor casual enthusiasts should miss the opportunity to try some of the vineyards’ local produce. The favorable conditions on the island result in exclusive grapes, which are of course responsible for the unique and mouth-watering flavors. We’ve talked with some of the island’s best known vintners about their grapes and hand-picked five of our favorite wine producers.

Tommasone

wines of ischia

Each wine is chosen from expertly-selected grapes! Photo Credit: Tommasone

One of the best-established wine-producers in Ischia, Tommasone boast over 250 years of company history. Both their company headquarters and winery were built in the 1700’s. Viticulture runs in the family veins, having been handed from father to son for five generations.

Today, their grapes are carefully cultivated over about ten hectares of land, some of which is rented to farmers. Keen-eyed connoisseurs will not that this is more than enough land for the 100,000 bottles which Tommasone currently produce per year. In fact, they choose to limit production in favor of maintaining exclusively high quality in each bottle.

Tommasone’s wines are currently available in Ischia, Campania and southern Italy – they also export to the UK, China, Japan and the US. Which should you try? There is a sumptuous variety. The Biancolella (named after the grape with which it is made) is a particularly tasty white, boasting a superb floral and fruity fragrance. For those who prefer red, both the Per’e Palummo and Pithecusa Rosso stood out to us. Both are rich and intense with the fruity and spicy notes which Campania’s Piedirosso grape is known for.

Try for yourself

One of our favorite places for wine tasting in Ischia, a session can be arranged in the Tommasone estate. It’s a beautiful setting with a stunning view over the bay between Lacco Ameno and Casamicciola. Available by appointment only – tel. +39 081 3330330.

Find out more about Tommasone here.

Cenatiempo

Here you will find some of the finest quality (and tastiest) grapes in Ischia!

Another family run business, the passion which runs through Cenatiempo’s vineyards is evident. This producer oversee the whole wine-making process, taking the grapes from vineyard to bottle. What makes Cenatiempo’s wine outstanding is their endeavor to intervene as little as possible with the natural wine-making processes. Unlike many producers, they rely on controlled temperatures for fermentation and aim to use only trace amounts of sulphites.

Of course, this is reflected in the divine variety of flavors on offer. Possibly our favorite (although it’s a tough choice!) was the Kalimera, a gorgeous white from the Biancolella vine – Ischia’s best known autochthonous grape. Soft and full-bodied, it brags delightful floral scents and a subtle finish. Critics score it as the best available wine in Ischia, with Vinous Antonio Galloni awarding the 2014 vintage a score of 92.

Aside Biancolella, Ischia’s other notable white grape is the Forastera. Accordingly, the Cenatiempo Forastera is another exellent choice – a fresh, balanced white from Lacco Ameno.

Try for yourself

Wine tasting can be arranged by appointment – call Federica Cenatiempo at +39 333 7100 480. The tasting is organized at the Cantina Kalimera, an old and charming canteen surrounded by vineyards on all sides.

Find out more about Cenatiempo here.

Pietratorcia

The cellars of Pietratorcia were founded by three ancient families from Ischia. Alongside over seven hectares of vineyards, they are now part of one of the finest wine producers in Ischia. Their vineyards boast an amazing variety of grapes, including seven varieties of white grape and four varieties of red! Whilst their cellars don’t produce wine in huge volume, Pietratorcia’s aim is to blend cultural traditions and vine-enological research – resulting in some of the finest wines of Ischia.

The Ischia Bianco Superiore is an excellent choice of white, combining a blend of Biancolella, Forastera, Uva Rilla and San Leonardo.  It is slightly aromatic and finely fruity with a balanced acidity – an excellent partner to the fresh Mediterranean seafood found on the island. Similarly of note is the Meditandum, a white wine characterized by it’s slight sweetness; intense yet delicate, it is makes an excellent partner for desserts.

Try for yourself

Pietratorcia celebrate the tastings and refined combinations of wine paired with cheeses and cured meats of Campania. The wine tastings are held in front of the wood cellar, in the spaces on the patio and under the pergola overlooking the garden full of fruits and essences. Call +39 081908206 for more information.

Find out more about Pietratorcia here.

Cantine Mazzella

There are plenty of wines to be tasted!

Experience, passion and quality – three ingredients which Cantine Mazzella strive to include in every bottle they produce. Founded by Nicola Mazzella in 1940, the cellars were enlarged and perfected by his Antonio. The land on which these vineyards are cultivated can only be reached on foot via ancient paths – so it has been through commitment and dedication that they have flourished.

Produced on the east of the island, the 2017 Vigna del Lume is notable, having won the prestigious Vinitaly competition – which is no small feat in Italy! It is, of course, one of the finest wines of Ischia. Named after the Punta del Lume region in which it is produced, it is further proof of the deliciousness of the regions Biancolella grape. According to Nicola and Vera Mazzella, there is no secret recipe behind the success of this wine – instead, they cite a passion for preserving tradition and respect for the product. It is certainly an exquisite wine!

Also of note are the Biancolella Ischia and the Forastera Ischia from Cantine Mazzella – both of which have been given a rating of 90 by the Vinous Antonio Galloni. This is yet more testament to the quality which the white wines of Ischia are famed for! Enthusiasts of red wine should not be put off, as the Per’e Palummo is similarly delectable.

Try for yourself

Situated on the east coast of the island, one can contact Cantine Mazzella on +39 081 901541 to arrange a tasting session.

Find out more about Cantine Mazzella here.

Casa D’Ambra

This vineyard boasts stunning ocean views! Photo Credit: Casa D’Ambra

When it comes to the history of wine production on the island, Casa D’Ambra are one of the first names which come to mind. The vineyard itself is nestled in a natural amphitheater, overlooking the bay of Citara. Casa D’Ambra first began with Francesco D’Ambra, who started producing wine back in 1888 – it is still a family run business today. One of the larger exporters of wine in Ischia, Casa D’Ambra produce upwards of half a million bottles annually.

Increasingly popular is Casa D’Ambra’s Frassitelli Pietra Martone. Critics have scored this wine as high as 92, securing it as one of the tastiest wines of Ischia. Full, fresh and distinctive, it has notes of banana and Mediterranean brush. Like many Biancolella’s, it makes a perfect counterpart to fresh fish pasta (such as linguine with prawns) or Ischian rabbit dishes.

Try it yourself

One can visit the wine museum and fascinating cantina at Casa D’Ambra before trying out some of the wines. It’s an excellent way to spend a day learning and tasting some of the best wines of Ischia! They can be reached on +39 081907246.

Find out more about Casa D’Ambra here.

If the delightful wines of Ischia have got your taste-buds tingling, why not explore our guide to some of the finest restaurants on the island?

Ischia by boat

Ischia by Boat – Explore the Island’s Pristine Coastline

Exploring the captivating nearby islands and coastlines of Ischia by boat promises to be an exciting and novel experience. It is perhaps the most relaxing way to discover the whole island! Plenty of stunning beaches and panoramic views await.

By boat, you will be treated to glorious caves and pristine bays which are best accessed by water. Enjoy gloriously unique views of the Gulf of Napoli as you drift between breath-taking coastal rock formations. This list of our favorite places to explore around Ischia by boat is sure to capture your imagination!

Procida Island

ischia by boat

The colours of this port are simply stunning.

Between Ischia and the mainland lies Procida, nestled within the bay of Naples. Almost untouched by the tourist industry, it’s a stunning island where one can experience authentic Italian culture. Alive with breath-taking colors and packed with divine restaurants, it’s an unmissable destination for anyone looking to explore the islands around Ischia by boat.

Where to begin? You’ll most likely dock in the quaint village of Corricella to be greeted by an array of colorful homes which seem to overflow towards the coast. So a stroll around the town a peaceful break from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

The authentic cuisine here is reason to visit alone and is sure to delight your taste-buds! Enjoy delectable fresh seafood whilst sipping on some limoncello and admiring the view. Alive with scruffy charm and dotted with unique landmarks (such as the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo – one of the most prestigious churches in Southern Italy), the island is sure to be a hit.

Don’t Miss: One of our favorite restaurants in Procida – La Lampara. Take your pick between mussels, octopus and lobster, or treat yourself to catch of the day. Our mouths are watering!

La Scannella

ischia by boat

Don’t forget your goggles!

Snorkeling and splashing around are two of our favorite things to do in Ischia. You’d be hard pressed to find many spots more suitable than the bay of La Scannella! Tucked away on the coast, it is most easily accessed by boat. Excellent news for anyone who wants to save themselves searching for the 290 concealed and tiring steps which provide the only path by land!

What’s more, exploring by boat will allow easy access for avid snorkelers. Hidden towards the south-westerly side of the island, the clear, sparkling waters of these bays are known to attract yachts and swimmers. For good reason! There are plenty of little caves and rocks under the water to explore around these hidden jewels.

Our Top Tip: Stock up on bread, mozzarella, fresh salad and cured meats to create your own antipasti lunch during your boat trip. There are no easily accessible restaurants nearby, and we’re certain you’ll want to spend a whole day here!

Grotto Del Mago

Relaxing on a boat is surely the best way to unwind

Shrouded in mystery, the Grotto Del Mago (or Magicians Grotto) is a must-see for anyone thinking of seeing the south-east coast of Ischia by boat. The strange cave was a refuge for local fishermen during heavy storms. According to local legend, from time to time an old man with a long white beard and flowing hair could be seen here, perched on the rocks nearby.

Other tales of mysterious voices and ethereal nymphs also surround the cave, which hangs mystically over the shore between the bay of Cartaromana and the Punta San Pancrazio. Whether they are true or not is for you to decided – but the Grotto Del Mago is certainly worth a visit regardless. The cave can be entered by boat, allowing visitors to gaze out on a perfectly framed view of the nearby island of Capri from an entirely fresh perspective.

Enjoy the twisted and chaotic volcanic rock formations which make up the cave and give character to the surrounding coastlines. Evidence of the turbulent geology of Ischia, they make for a postcard-perfect setting to explore. Don’t forget your camera!

Our Recommendation: Look out for nymphs!

Michelangelo’s Tower

You can also glimpse this interesting tower from the ocean!

Above the lava rocks of St. Ann stands Michelangelo’s Tower (also known as Guevara’s Tower). A unique fortress-house constructed in the fifteenth century by King Alfonso of Aragon, it was owned by the Guevara family until the 1800’s. It’s a glorious sight to see and a marvel which should not be missed when exploring Ischia by boat.

According to legend, it was here that Michelangelo became besotted by Italian poet Vittoria Colonna. It is said that some of the frescoes within the tower are the work of the great artist – however there is no official documentation of this! What can be known is that glimpsing the tower by sea gives a fascinating perspective on this interesting building, which is currently used as an exhibition for famous artists.

Our Top Tip: Michelangelo’s Tower lies on the east of the island, just south of Castello Aragonese – combine the two famous sights in one boat trip!

Sant’Angelo

Admire the Punta Sant’Angelo

The southernmost tip of Ischia is undoubtedly best explored by boat! The Punta Sant’Angelo is a giant rock formation, joined to the mainland by a small strip of beach. Because of the mountainous area around it, the small town of Sant’Angelo is best accessed by sea, which will make for an enthralling day out.

It’s possible to walk up into the town of Sant’Angelo, which will afford breath-taking panoramic views of the coastline as far as Maronti Beach.  Taking in the beautiful vistas is one of our favorite things to do in Ischia! A small town, the restaurants and cafes here allow you to relax and watch the world go by, glimpsing small boats as they zip around the Tyrhennian sea.

One can also choose to stop of at Le Fumarole Beach, named after the hot vapors from the volcanic activity underground which heat the sands to various different temperatures. This unique wonder is said to treat a variety of ailments, and the locals even make use of the phenomenon to cook food underground in special containers. The beach is one of the most picturesque on the island – perfect for a day of exploring Ischia by boat!

Our Top Tip: It’s possible to reach Sant’Angelo and Fumarole Beach by water taxi from the nearby Maronti Beach. If you’re looking for a bit to eat, head to Divina Ischia for gorgeously presented cuisine at a reasonable price and fabulous scenic views!

Scheria Cup

Get caught up in this exhilarating regatta!

Every April, the exhilirating Scheria Cup takes place as competitors challenge each other to sail around the whole of Ischia. What better way to enjoy the action than by boat? Gorgeous scenery and favorable sailing conditions in early spring make this regatta a thrilling spectacle.

If you’re planning on visiting Ischia this April, be sure to keep an ear out for the scheduled dates of the regatta – we’ll be sure to release an article on it closer to the time! The race takes place over 24 hours – following it by boat is sure to be an exciting way to experience sea breeze and keep up with the action. Don’t miss it! Getting caught up in the sense of exhilaration is one of our favorite things to do in Ischia.

Find Out More: Check out the Scheria Cup website to find out more about the upcoming 2019 event by clicking here!

This stunning master bedroom is surely the perfect place to let your hair down!

Looking to discover more of Ischia’s best kept secrets? Consider a relaxing retreat at our gorgeous Villa Torre Dell’Aquila, a perfect place for the ultimate serene getaway. Click here to find out more!

best hiking trails in Ischia

Best Hiking Trails in Ischia – Five of the Most Picturesque Walks

Long walks in the sun is what summertime is all about! Set among chestnut forests, volcanic rocks and winding vineyards, the best hiking trails in Ischia are guaranteed to satisfy your urge. From the sun-kissed peaks of Mount Epomeo to the breath-taking cliff-top scenery which overhangs Maronti Beach, there is something for everyone.

Of course there are plenty of reasons to consider this beautiful island for your next vacation. However, if pleasant strolls through quirky streets, blooming flowers and forest trails appeal to you, our list of captivating walks in Ischia is sure to convince you!

Mount Epomeo

Prepare for stunning panoramic views!

Of course, no list of the best hiking trails in Ischia would be complete without a mention of the stunning Mount Epomeo. At 789 meters high, the trek to the peak is packed with glorious panoramic views of the whole island.

Start your trek from the village of Fontana and you can easily follow the well sign-posted path to the mountain. Ascending as you head north will open your eyes to the lush greenery and rolling vineyards of the mountain slopes. Not for the faint-of-heart, the walk is certainly suitable for those with an average fitness level. It can be steep in places.

best hiking trails in Ischia

The view of Epomeo from below

As if gorgeous vistas from the top weren’t enough of a reward, you’ll also reach a small restaurant and bar. La Grotta da Fiore is a popular spot for hikers who have worked up an appetite. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some Bruschetta with a view!

Suggested Route: Head to the main square in Fontana where you’ll come across a small church. Turn left from outside the church and you’ll see signposts pointing up the hill to Mount Epomeo. The route is signposted throughout.

Don’t Miss:  The charming restaurant of La Grotta di Fiore at the peak of Mount Epomeo. Ideal for a refreshing drink and a bite to eat!

Through the Falanga Forest

The ethereal Falanga Forest

Featuring delightful stone houses and the beautiful white church of Santa Maria al Monte, this is one of our favorite walks in Ischia. Combining the ancient wine route of Forio with a stroll through the luscious Bosco Falanga, this inland walk is relaxing yet exhilarating.

Head south from the Santa Maria al Monte church. Here, the blue signposts will indicate the route through Falanga Forest – a chestnut wood with primitive stone houses. These quirky abodes once gave refuge to grape growers on the island. Enjoy the luxuriant vegetation – this enchanting setting makes for an ethereal stroll.

After a stretch within these magical woods, you will reach a gorgeous clearing with panoramic vistas stretching far across the idyllic west side of the island. From here, a mule track which will guide you to the road towards Serrera Fontana. It’s undoubtedly one of the best hiking trails in Ischia.

Suggested Route: Begin by driving to the Santa Maria al Monte church. Here you will be greeted by a small group of houses and a restaurant. Besides the restaurant the path to the forest of Falanga awaits – head south and follow the blue signposts through Falanga. After the clearing a mule-track leads to the road which will take you to Serrera Fontana.

Don’t Forget: This rural walk is set within the picturesque forest of Falanga. It’s far from the hustle and bustle of town life. Bring plenty of water and refreshments!

Sant’Angelo to Maronti Beach

The gorgeous vista at Maronti Bay

A stroll across the southern cliffs of Ischia is guaranteed to be packed with breath-taking panoramic views and sublime ocean vistas, satisfying the urges of any avid hiker. Arriving the soft sands and clear waters of  Maronti Beach will be a well-deserved reward on this delightful walk.

Beginning in the gorgeous harbor town of Sant’Angelo, one can amble lazily through the quaint streets without a care in the world. Relax with a coffee before starting your walk at the archway which marks the entrance to the village!

From here, you should bear east, where signposts for Le Fumarole Beach will guide you on your path. The beach provides a good spot for some quick refreshment among the quirky flower-padded houses on the way.

Continue past Le Furmarole and you’ll embark up a relatively steep hill – the ascent will be worth it for the views from above! Follow the path across the cliff-tops and you’ll wind up at Maronti, just in time for a refreshing dip in the ocean.

Suggested Route: Head east from Sant’Angelo and follow signs to Le Fumarole until you reach one which points southwards to the beach itself. Continue past this and you will ascend towards the clifftops. From here, the path will lead naturally to Maronti Beach.

Don’t Miss: The delectable seafood at Bar Ristorante Nettuno. It’s one of the many excellent restaurants on Maronti Beach! The perfect way to refuel on one of the best hiking trails in Ischia.

La Mortella Gardens

The sheer beauty of the flora and fauna here is incredible!

Our next walk is one of the most invigorating on the list, as it would be absurd not to include a stroll through La Mortella Gardens in our list!

Giardini La Mortella is a Mediterranean oasis of luscious flora and fauna, superbly manicured and lovingly maintained. It’s a relaxing horticultural paradise! There is an array of highly beautiful plants, with fascinating giant lily-pads which can hold the weight of a child.

The walk there from Chiaia Beach features incredible sea-front views of the west coast, before turning inland towards La Mortella. It is well worth spending a day wandering around the fascinating gardens. There is a plethora of luxurious nature and interesting history to discover.

A scenic spot which should not be missed on your return is Belvedere Di Zaro. It’s terrace with a stupendous view of the breath-taking scenery which surrounds one of the best hiking trails in Ischia!

Suggested Route: Begin at Seasons Restaurant on Chiaia Beach. From here, following the road northwards will offer a stunning ocean vista on your left. Continue past San Francesco beach – a right turn at the T-junction will guide you past Ristorante Zi’Carmelaa to La Mortella Gardens.

Don’t Miss: The Tea Room at La Mortella Gardens. It turns out a pot of tea and a slice of cake goes down well in paradise as well!

Castello Aragonese

On a clear day you’ll see Naples from this majestic castle

On the east of Ischia lies a coastline which makes for a charming hike, featuring a visit to the breath-taking Castello Aragonese. From the castle you will be treated to stunning views. On a clear day, you’ll enjoy the whole of Ischia Ponte in one direction whilst gazing upon Naples in the other!

This walk begins through an ancient village of beautiful eighteenth century architecture. Mysterious gardens and courtyards are hidden behind heavy chestnut doors.

Follow our route towards Castello Aragonese. For a small fee you can explore this medieval castle,  perched on an islet which is linked to the mainland by a causeway. It’s stunningly picturesque! Beautiful and peaceful, the views from this attraction cannot be missed.

Having explored the castle, one can continue the route towards Cartaromana Beach. Enjoy your stroll between ancient houses and gardens, down large lava-stone stairways towards the quiet and secluded beach. One of the best hiking trails in Ischia, it is approximately forty-five minutes between the Castle and Cartaromana. Be sure to enjoy a dip once you arrive!

Suggested Route: Begin at either Dei Pescatori Beach or via Seminario – the road where Ischia Ponte begins. Follow this road east. You will end up at the roundabout leading to Aragonese Castle. Having explored, retrace your footsteps until you reach a left turn before the Church of the Holy Spirit. Take some stairs down, so as to follow Via Soronzano. Bear left at the main junction. You will eventually reach Cartaromana Beach.

Don’t Forget: Drop into Ristorante i Pirati (Pirate Restaurant) on Cartaromana Beach for authentic food and excellent wine to top off your walk!

Now that you’ve explored some of the best hiking trails in Ischia, why not find out more by exploring our quick guide to the island?

 

La Mortella Gardens_Ischia- Villa Italy

A Stroll Around Mortella Gardens

A trip to the small volcanic island of Ischia, nestled serenely in an idyllic spot just off the coast of Naples, is not complete without a formal garden visit. Giardini La Mortella is certainly no ordinary garden, but a wonderful Mediterranean and tropical oasis, created with loving care by its Argentinian founder, Lady Susana Walton. She and her husband, the British composer Sir William Walton, lived here, and the gardens began life more than half a century ago, in 1956. Today, you can visit these gardens, and enter a more tranquil world, where music and careful planting merge.

About the La Mortella Gardens

Step back in time and into the lush Mortella Gardens on your next trip to Ischia. Put aside at least half a day to immerse yourself in this stunning horticultural sanctuary. You’ll follow in famous footsteps. The owners hosted many fabulous parties here, and guests included Charlie Chaplin, Vivien Leigh and Maria Callas, to name just a few. The beautiful gardens are laid out over the hillside, on different levels, but, worth noting is the access for less able-bodied visitors on each level. Climbing higher at each stage brings new rewards, not just the well-planted and designed gardens, but also the splendid views from each point.

Villa Torre dell’Aquila_IschiaThe well maintained gardens are superbly landscaped, with close attention to detail, and are a delight for any green-fingered visitors or budding horticulturalists, as well as those expert in botany. In fact, even if you know nothing about plants, you will love the unadulterated beauty and scent of the gardens. It is such a relaxing spot to visit, whilst staying at Torre dell’Aquila, which is conveniently located for a visit to the gardens.

What’s to see at La Mortella?

The distinguished landscape architect, Russell Page, first transformed this unyielding rock quarry landscape into the delightful gardens we see today, all under the watchful eye and green fingers of Lady Walton. Curved paths and climbing terraces hewn into the hillside, beg to be discovered, and you can easily lose all sense of time as you walk through and climb upwards. The gardens are as composed as lovingly as a piece of sheet music, and are in two parts; the lower gardens, known as The Valley, and the upper, known as The Hill. In total, there are over two hectares of landscaped garden.

Water Lily_La Mortella_Villa ItalyThere are three tropical greenhouses, and water plays a large part in the gardens, along with water loving plants, such as Papyrus, Lotus, and Waterlily. There is a perpetual sound of water from the ponds, streams and fountains.

La Mortella is a relaxing and mindful place, and one of the highlights is the Thai House, a special place for meditation, filled with Bamboo and Oriental Maple, as well as Lotus Blossom, and scented plants. Surrounded by the exotic planting, you will feel instantly transported to Asia. The collection of plants is not only maintained, but widened each year, with more careful planting, so one visit is never quite enough.

There are countless reasons to visit the gardens, but a special one is to see the giant water lilies, in particular the Victoria. It’s a species that was originally discovered in Brazil back at the beginning of 1800, and later brought to Europe. Here at the Mortella Gardens, they can be seen inside the greenhouse called the Tropical House, where the sheer size of them will amaze you. It’s said that they are so robust and huge – up to three metres in diameter, that a leaf can bear the weight of a child.

La Mortella Gardens giant lily_Villa Italy

In addition to the enormous lilies, orchids and bromeliads, look out for The Mouth; a sculpture by Simon Verity. Also interestingly, and with an important sustainable angle, spot the colourful tropical climbing plants, in particular the Strongylodon Macrobotrys, which is a rare, exquisite turquoise climber from Asia. Hailing from the Philippines, where it is on the brink of extinction due to deforestation, it thrives happily here. The bright colour attracts nocturnal bats, who pollinate the next flower as they hang upside down and feed on the sweet nectar of the pendulous flowers.

The Tea Room

Every stroll around a garden requires a decent pot of tea, and a slice of sticky cake, it’s practically a rule! The Tea Room at La Mortella Gardens is almost as famous as the main attraction. Enjoy a selection of Fortnum and Mason teas – yes, really – all served at reasonable prices. Rumour has it that the Caprese Cake is an absolute must-order.

Activities at La Mortella Gardens

Besides the discovery of the botanical aspect to La Mortella Gardens, it is also the superb setting for plenty of cultural activities during the summer months. In keeping with the ethos of the Foundation, music and art performances are also an important part of dedicated summer evenings. Concerts, both open air and indoor, as well as theatre, are offered as part of the seasonal programme. Catch one of these cultural interludes and make your visit to La Mortella even more special, and provide a soundtrack to your holiday memories. Catch the symphonic concerts held every Thursday evening in the Greek Theatre, performed by young musicians. The purpose of the Foundation encourages visitors to appreciate music, and in particular the works of Sir William Walton, as this is after all, where he was most inspired. In fact, his wish was to have the urn containing his ashes set into the volcanic rock of the garden, where today they rest in peace.

La Mortella Gardens_Theatre_Ischia - Villa Italy

Sir William Walton was largely considered to be one of the most prominent composers of the twentieth century. Music, therefore, plays a large part in the life of the gardens. Seasonally, various concerts are heard, and the garden theatre makes an excellent venue for the symphonies. Rock walls provide the acoustics, and aromatic thyme between the stone seating add a romantic scent, as evening falls and the first strings of music are heard, as the sun sets over the pristine sea of the Bay of Forio.

How to get to La Mortella Gardens

The gardens are easy to get to, located in Forio, close to the Spiaggia di San Francesco (San Francesco beach), in the Zaro area.

Use this Google map if you are driving, simply enter your starting point for accurate directions.

Address & Opening Hours

La Mortella Gardens are open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Entrance to the public runs from March 29th, to October 30th. There are some additional opening days for 2018, all in April, and these are as follows:

  • Wednesday April 25
  • Monday April 30

For more information on Giardini della Mortella visit the official La Mortella Gardens website.

Fondazione William Walton e La Mortella,
via Francesco Calise 45, 80075, Forio (Na), Italy.

Dining out Ischia_Villa Italy

Ischia Cuisine: Our favourite restaurants

Campania is a region renowned for its deliciously unpretentious cuisine. The traditional diet combines farm produced and agricultural ingredients, with fruits of the sea. Gifted with a rich and fertile soil: tomatoes, aubergine, peppers, garlic and herbs are all staple ingredients to traditional dishes. And heavenly aromatic fruits grow in abundance throughout the countryside.

Neapolitan pizza prepared with the finest Campania wheat flour and Mozzarella di Bufala DOP, is nothing less than a work of culinary art. And the region’s mellow extra virgin olive oil drizzled over Focaccia bread is one of life’s simple pleasures, as are two of my favourite regional dishes, parmigiana di melanzane (aubergine/ eggplant parmesan bake) and spaghetti alla puttanesca (spaghetti whore’s style!).

Ischia might be cut off from mainland Campania, but it’s gastronomy and restaurant choice is no less gratifying, boasting traditional dishes that have been honed to perfection over the centuries. Coniglio all’Ischitana (Ischian Rabbit Stew), local seafood and pizza jostle for prime place on the menu, and only on Ischia will you find the ancient traditional of cucina delle  fumarole (cooking on the island’s hot springs) still prevalent today.

If you are looking for an Italian foodie destination, Ischia will not disappoint. Combine Campania and Neapolitan cuisine with the most elegant and laid-back of islands. What more could one ask for?

Some of our favourite restaurants are listed below. We’d love you to send us your favourites and we’ll add them to the list!

Il Delfino

Il Delfino is a fourth destination restaurant located beachside in Lacco Ameno with gorgeous views from the terrace across the beach to the marina. The chef uses only the best quality ingredients to prepare the dishes on the European-biased menu. Speciality of the house is Spaghetti alle Vongole. Or choose from fresh fish of the day, pasta and more.

Corso Angelo Rizzoli, 116
80076 Lacco Ameno (NA)
Tel. +39 081 900252
More info on Il Delfino

spaghetti vongole_Ischia_Villa Italy

Il Saturnino

Il Saturnino in Forio is an institution on Ischia. Serving Michelin standard cuisine, the menu is seasonal and the wine list excellent. You can’t visit Ischia without eating here. We especially love the appetizers, such as raw yellowtail with basmati rice, anchovy pie with cianfottina zucchini and eggplant, and the stuffed squids with shrimps.

Via Marina sul porto –
Forio d’Ischia, Ischia, NA,
Tel. +39 081 998296
Il Saturnino website

 

Pietratorcia

Wine producers, Pietratorcia, have two restaurants on Ischia. One set amongst the vineyards of Panza, and the other in the coastal town of Forio. The restaurant is small, and personal, so make sure you book a table. The cuisine is distinctly Ischian and Mediterranean, with ingredients strictly from Ischia and Campania. Traditional Ischian rabbit stew is a menu staple, fresh fish and seafood, Gragnano pasta and vegetables from giardino di Pietratorcia (straight from their market garden). And of course the wine list is exceptional. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from April through to November.

Via Provinciale Panza, 401
Località Cuotto
Tel. +39 081 90 72 32
Pietratorcia website

 

Umberto a Mare

Frequently featured in the Top 10 Restaurants in Italy with Views, Umberto a Mare offers an exquisite dining experience with simply some of the most breathtaking views on the island. The terrace houses just 10 tables with views to the sea, but both dining rooms also have window views. The menu is highly priced, but worth it. The menu changes daily, showcasing creative cuisine, inspired by traditional Ischian dishes.

Via Soccorso, 2
80075 – Forio d’Ischia
Tel. +39081997171
Umberto a Mare website

 

Neapolitan pizza_Ischia Villa ItalyBella Napoli

The best pizza on the island! Bella Napoli is situated in Forio’s historical centre. Cooked in a wood fired oven, their pizzas are leavened and prepared according to the great Neapolitan pizza maestros. The atmosphere is fun and upbeat, just as a pizza restaurant should be.

Via Marina, 18
80075 Forio d’Ischia
Tel. +39 081 986392
Bella Napoli website

 

Il Limoneto da Ciccio

A traditional pizzeria situated in the heart of Forio, also serving a good selection of fresh fish and pasta dishes. Family-run Il Limoneto is very popular with locals and has a nice relaxed atmosphere. The dining room is cheerfully decorated, or sit outside in the restaurant garden.

Via Baiola, 94, 80075 Forio
Tel. +39 081 333 2009
More info on Il Limoneto de Ciccio

 

Il Bracconiere

Set on Mount Epomeo in Serrara Fontana, Il Bracconiere is the place to try the famous Coniglio all’ischitana (Ischian rabbit), but make sure you order in advance when you book your table. The menu offers mainly meat dishes, a welcome change for the coastal seafood, pasta and pizza specialities. And the views are spectacular. Another must visit restaurant on Ischia.

Via Falanga, 1, Serrara Fontana
Tel +39 081 999436
More info on Il Bracconiere

Da Mario

Beachside restaurant Da Mario’s in Maronti, serves delicious food in a relaxing environment. Fronted by a private beach, you can make a day of it and hire a sun lounger, or head over especially to sample the food, or an evening aperitif. The seafood pasta is especially good, as is the Bruschetta. Of all the restaurants in Maronti, Da Mario’s is our favourite.

Spiaggia dei Maronti
80070, Barano d’Ischia
Tel. +39 081 990 394
More Info on Da Mario

Il Giardino Eden

Il Giardino Eden, the Garden of Eden, is situated in Cartaromana Bay. The restaurant forms part of the Eden Hotel & Spa and affords wonderful views to the Castello Aragonese. The setting is very romantic; a lovely spot for dinner on a summer’s evening. You can catch the shuttle boat over, which makes the whole experience even better. The menu is fish biased, but there are pasta and vegetarian options available.

Via Nuova Cartaromana, 62, Ischia
Tel. +39 081 985015
Il Giardino Eden website

 

La vigna di Alberto

This charming restaurant is off the beaten track, which makes the experience even more delightful. Set amongst the vineyards in Fiaiano, La vigna di Alberto brings authentic cuisine to modern Ischia. The dishes are deeply rooted in local tradition and history. The atmosphere and decor is welcoming, and there is a lovely garden where you can enjoy views to Ischia Porto. The homemade pasta dishes are simply divine.

Via G. Garibaldi, 57 – Fiaiano – Barano d’Ischia
Tel. +39 081 901193
More info on La vigna di Alberto

La Scarrupata

Set between Ischia Porto and Maronti beach, La Scarrupata can only be reached by boat, making it a popular eatery for yacht owners. Also known as La Pace, the menu is influenced by fish and seafood, although pasta and meat dishes also feature and are equally as tempting. The setting in the bay is delightful and the atmosphere unhurried. If you wish to stay longer, there are sun loungers down by the shore, where you can chill out after lunch and watch the world go by.

Spiaggia Della Scarrupata, Barano d’Ischia
Tel. +39 368 489 084

Ischia reasons to visit-Sant'angelo_villa italy

Ischia Travel Guide: Five Reasons to Visit

There are countless reasons why smart travellers choose Ischia (EES-kee’ah) for a holiday. Italophiles, beach lovers, wellness enthusiasts, and foodies. Or those just looking for space and freedom away from the perspiring crowds of Naples and Capri. All are catered for on glorious Ischia.

In fact, the longer you stay on this isola verde (green island) in southern Italy, the more it grows on you. Just like the green tuff rock that dominates the landscape and gives the island its nickname. So, when we were asked to pick our top five reasons to visit Ischia, we had a hard time choosing.

Our love of Ischia goes far beyond the spiaggie (Ischia beaches), thermal springs and higgledy piggledy streets of Forio. It’s the quirkiness and contrast of the landscape; the enchantment of the tiny hamlets of Monte Epomeo – untouched by modernisation, and sunsets over Sant’Angelo, where starry eyed lovers forget the world around them and focus on the beauty of the moment. It’s the fact that when the tourists all go home, Ischia remains an island full of vitality and a joie de vivre.

Still, if we have to choose some great reasons to visit Ischia, here are five good places to start…

Thermal Springs

Ischia Reasons to Visit- Thermal Springs_Villa Italy

Ischia’s volcanic origins have sired over 100 thermal springs and given Ischia the reputation as Europe’s premier thermal destination. Over 100 hot springs bubble up from the gases that bubble away under the surface, produced by the island’s volcanic activity.

There are natural thermal springs located all over the island, and spa parks where you can enjoy the thermal waters in a relaxing environment, with a host of treatments thrown in. From the scorching sands of the Fumaroles of Sant’Angelo, to the luxurious Poseidon Thermal Gardens, Ischia’s largest thermal park.

For more information on the thermal springs and parks gardens of Ischia, read our full article.

Castello Aragonese

Ischia reasons to visit_Castello Aragonese_Villa Italy

Castello Aragonese is one of Ischia’s most important attractions. The 15th century castle sits majestically atop an islet, accessed via the Ponte Aragonese from Ischia Ponte. Think St Michael’s Mount with bluer sea and skies!

The original Angevin fortress was built in 474 BC, and was rebuilt in the 1400s by King Alfonso of Aragon. You can easily while away a morning exploring the castle inside and out. There is an entrance fee paid as the base of the compound.

Wind your way up through the luscious gardens, passing the ruins of the Cattedrale dell’Assunta, destroyed under British fire in the 18th century, until you reach the main buildings of the complex. The 11th crypt with 14th century frescoes still intact and the Carcere Borbonico, a fascinating yet sombre prison, are particularly interesting.

Italian foodie heaven

The sea and mountainscapes of Ischia produce some truly flavoursome dishes. Travellers looking for an Italian foodie experience will feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven. In fact it’s almost impossible to eat a lousy meal in Ischia. This is Campania after all!

Simple, yet elegant rustic fayre from the mountains. Ischia’s signature dish dates back centuries; Coniglio all’Ischitana (Ischian Rabbit Stew) is rich in flavour, low in calories. Wild rabbits have inhabited Ischia’s mountainous countryside for centuries, and this dish sums up the region perfectly. For a taste of Ischia’s classic rabbit dish head to Il bracconiere in Serrara Fontana. Set atop the 789 metre high Mount Epomeo, the views are spectacular and the ambience easygoing. Take your time and enjoy.

Set in the Gulf of Naples, fishing is a grand tradition on Ischia and Procida, influencing much of the island’s coastal gastronomy. Menus depend on what the catch of the day is, with gamberi rossi (red prawns), cuttlefish and octopus, are typically caught in the local waters, and the mouthwatering clams, come all the way from… Naples.

Napoli is the home of pizza. And this Neapolitan island does pizza, as it should be. Stay at Torre dell’Aquila and you’ll enjoy made-to-order pizzas baked in our wood fired oven by a local pizzaiolo!

La Mortella Botanic Gardens

Ischia reasons to visit_La Mortella Gardens_Villa Italy

The Giardini La Mortella (La Mortella Botanic Gardens) in Forio, is one of the most captivating gardens you will ever visit. It’s certainly one of, if not, the biggest attraction on Ischia. The allure of La Mortella isn’t just in the beauty of the gardens; it’s the romantic history of its heritage, which visitors feel as they wander through the pastoral grounds.

Once upon a time a British composer, Sir William Walton, fell in love with an Argentinian señora by the name of Susana Valeria Rosa Maria Gil Passo. They married and soon after moved to Ischia. Their love story is told through La Giardini La Mortella. Lady Walton dedicated 50 years to developing the gardens. Today they are open to the public and run by the non-profit cultural organization, Fondazione William Walton La Mortella. A trip to Ischia is not complete without exploring this Idyllic spot.

Heading inland…

Ischia reasons to visit_Mount Epomeo_Villy Italy

If you can tear yourself away from the thermal springs, spiagge (beaches) and the pure enthusiasm of the vibrant coastal region of Ischia. We highly recommend a visit to explore the peaceful countryside and villages on the slopes of Mount Epomeo. From Sant’Angelo upwards, tiny hamlets add a splash of colour to the otherwise pure green hues that dominate Ischia’s interior complexion.

The region of Serrara Fontana is – unsurprisingly – made up of two villages named, Serrara and Fontana. Fontana is the starting point for the walking route up to the top of Mount Epomeo. The ascent takes around 90 minutes and is absolutely worth the exercise. From Fontana you take in the magnificent views over to Capri. There are also some great local restaurants here. Start your walk early, and come back down in time for lunch. Serrara is a tiny village, worth visiting just for its mirador with views to Sant’Angelo and Capri. The surrounding landscape is dominated by terraced vineyards.

To appreciate the island’s volcanic origins head to the hamlet of Noia, from which you can explore the island’s lunaesque landscape. Following the Pizzi di Sant’Andrea Trail (the old mule path), the landscape transforms from native vegetation to incredible lava formations. Sculptured white columns, often referred to as the Pizzi Bianchi (white lace). If you’re feeling energetic, you can follow the route all the way back down to Maronti Bay.

These are just five of the reasons why we love this blissful Italian island. We promise you’ll discover many more when you come visit.

Maronti_Beach_Ischia_Villa Italy

A Guide To Ischia’s Best Beaches

spiaggia pescatori_Ischia beach_Villa Italy

Pescatori Beach, Ischia Ponte

So much perfection in just 17 square miles. The glorious island of Ischia has all the ingredients to concoct a seriously good Italian vacation. The vivid colours of Ischia exude a happy-go-lucky pace you’ll only understand if you’ve grown up on a small island.

The fertile green countryside pockmarked with tufa and strewn with the pink vines of wild-growing Bougainvillea, gracefully dissolves into whitewashed villages and tutti frutti coloured seaside towns. The deep azure blue sky reaches down in greeting to the crystal waters of Ischia’s spiaggias (beaches) and baie (bays).

Beach lovers are spoilt for choice as Ischia’s coastline is formed of golden sandy stretches of beach and twinkling bays; some of the most glorious in the Campania region. The petite island is small enough that you could comfortably visit a different beach every day of a two week vacation.

Villa Italy’s Guide To The Best Beaches on Ischia

Beaches of Ischia Porto & Ischia Ponte

Spiaggia dei Pescatori

Spiaggia dei Pescatori (the fisherman’s beach) is situated close to Ischia Ponte and as the name suggests it’s primarily used by local fisherman to leave their boats on dry land. During the summer months, its also popular with locals and visitors, drawn to Spiaggia dei Pescatori (above photo) for the convivial ambience, lovely views to Procida and the Castello Aragonese, and the many snacks bars and restaurants serving up plates of fried Alici, Spaghetti al Pomodoro or traditional Neapolitan pizza.

Favourite experience: The perfect end to your day on Spiaggia dei Pescatori: saunter into Ischia Ponte (8 minutes walk) for a Gelato alla Stracciatella at Gelateria Ice da Luciano.

Spiaggia di Pagoda

Pagoda Beach shares its location with the iconic venue Blu Jane. A mini boat-shaped disco that has become a popular celebrity hangout and integral part of Ischia’s nightlife: Mick Jagger is said to have visited. Anyway, disco aside; Pagoda Beach is hidden away just a small distance from the harbour of Ischia Porto. It’s one of the smallest beaches on the island, but what it loses on size, it makes up for with beautiful golden sands and an escape from the summer crowds.

Favourite experience: Peace!

Beaches of Forio d’Ischia

Citara Beach _Ischia Beaches_Villa Italy

Citara Beach, Forio

Spiaggia di Citara

Citara Beach is one of the island’s larger beaches. Surrounded by low cliffs, densely covered in vegetation, Citara is situated just outside of Forio town. There is no shortage of facilities and amenities. You can hire sun loungers and parasols, partake in water sports and take your pick from the many beach bars and restaurants.

Citara Beach is also home to the Poseidon Thermal Gardens, and is one of the few beaches on the island that gets the sun all day.

Favourite experience: Stay for sundowners at a beach bar and enjoy the sensational sunsets.

cava dell'isola_Ischia_Villa Italy

Cava dell’Isola

You could say you hang out on, rather than relax on Cava dell’Isola (right), as this beach is frequented by the young and energetic, who prefer their beach days full of volleyball, beach rounders, water sports and snorkelling around the cove, and generally much joviality.

The beach is in walking distance from Forio town, just follow the esplanade along. Or five minutes drive and a shimmy down a steep slope from the road.

Favourite experience: Snorkeling and exploring the rock pools and little caves.

San Francesco_Ischia_Private swim access

Spiaggia San Francesco

San Francesco Beach is the closest beach to Villa Torre dell’Aquila and a favourite spot for families. The fine golden sands shelve gently down to the pristine waters. Towards one end of the beach there are rock pools, which form into natural pools: great for exploring with the kids. And snorkelling at San Francesco is highly recommended.

Favourite experience: Canoeing around the cliffs to explore the caves.
Or perhaps swimming off the private deck from the rocks below Villa Torre dell’Aquila (above). Book your stay.

Torre dell'Aquila - Vista dalla terrazza principale

Torre dell’Aquila – View from Main Terrace

Beaches of Barano d’Ischia

Spiaggia dei Maronti

A three kilometer slender stretch of gleaming sand shelves down to the aquamarine waters at Maronti Beach. This popular beach lies just a short distance from Sant’Angelo and the views to the town are amazing. It’s also home to the Cavascura Natural Springs and caves.

Maronti_Beach_Ischia_Villa Italy

Maronti Beach, Barano d’Ischia

There are free and paid-for zones on Maronti Beach, and access is via water taxi from Sant’Angelo or take a bus or taxi direct and navigate the steep path down to the beach.

Favourite experience: A lazy morning of sun and swim followed by some pore cleansing and relaxation time in the Cavascura caves.

Beaches of Sant’Angelo

Spiaggia delle Fumarole

Step carefully on the sands of Le Fumarole beach, as hot vapours escape from the volcanic basin below. In some parts the sand temperature can reach up to 150º degrees. However, a visit to Le Fumarole is not to be missed, where else can you sunbathe, cure your ailments and cook your lunch on the sand?

Le Fumarole is also the location for the Aphrodite Thermal Gardens. Is there a beach in Ischia that doesn’t have a thermal theme? Hardly. Take the coastal path down from the pretty village of Sant’Angelo, and enjoy the spectacular views on the way.

Favourite experience: Warm sand between your toes and an evening picnic spread out on a blanket under a starry night sky.

Baia di Sorgeto

Bigger is not better in Ischia, as teeny tiny Baia di Sorgeto proves. The warm thermal waters and vapours bubble up through the rocks. Sit back in this natural sauna and feel the reviving power of Ischia’s thermal waters. Reach Baia di Sorgeto via 300 steps down from the village of Panza, or by water taxi from chic Sant’Angelo.

Favourite experience: An evening dip in the thermal waters.

Beaches of Lacco Ameno

Baia di San Montano

Blue hues dominate the enchanting San Montano Bay: cyan skies, turquoise waters and uniformed royal blue parasols line up along the pristine sands. Situated just outside of Lacco Ameno, this is a great beach spot for families with children, with calm seas and good amenities, and certainly one of the prettiest bays on the island.

Favourite experience: Indulge in a visit to the Negombo Spa Park situated above the beach.

Lacco Ameno beach_Ischia_Villa Italy

Spiaggia Litoranea, Lacco Ameno

Spiaggia Litoranea

Soft golden sands, wonderful views and the pretty town and harbour of Lacco Ameno, make Litoranea Beach one of the most picturesque on Ischia.

Favourite experience: People-watching on the beach followed by some boutique shopping in Lacco Ameno.

Salt luxury thermal pool_Ischia_Villa Italy

Soak Up Ischia’s Natural Hot Springs

Sulphuric springs and sunshine are two of the quintessential attractions of Ischia, the largest Neapolitan island on an archipelago sitting at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples.

Locals and visitors have been taking advantage of the curative powers of Ischia’s thermal waters and mud (fango) since as far back as 700BC. Over the centuries the waters have been so highly regarded that temples were built to worship the waters; physicians studied the restorative qualities of the water, and famous visitors alighted at Ischia to heal wounds, diseases and ailments.

If relax and rejuvenation are high on your vacation wish list, we recommend a trip to Ischia, where you may luxuriate in the island’s natural hot springs and thermal gardens.

A volcanic hot tub

The island of Ischia is volcanic, resulting in rich, fertile land, which produces some of the most amazing wines, including Bianco Spumante. A sparkling wine, as lively as is the local hot springs. Seismic movement over the years has created some fascinating rock formations along the coastline. The surrounding seas are healthy and clean, and are a habitat for seven species of whale and dolphin.

Hubble, bubble

There are so many remarkable health benefits associated with bathing in sulphuric waters. You’ll quickly get used to the smell, often referred to as rotten eggs. The benefits far outweigh the smell. A soak in the springs is said to increase your blood flow, circulation, speed up your metabolism, and help with the absorption of essential minerals.

So, where are the springs, and which are the best ones to visit? Tear yourself away from the Aragonese castle, the gardens at La Mortella and the beach. Roll up your towel, let’s explore the best hot springs and soothing sulphuric waters of Ischia.

salt water pool _Thermal Gardens_Ischia_Villa Italy

Hot Springs and Thermal Parks

There are open hot springs, and there are thermal parks, the latter combines the thermal waters, together with amenities such as special treatments, and landscaped gardens. The category of springs are generally grouped according to the mineral content, it’s said that various minerals are more or less suitable for particular ailments, but in general all of them  offer positive health benefits, especially the easing of joint pain, the reason why most visitors seek them out. It’s also a fun day, and you can become part of the strange tribe of grey people – covered head to toe in cleansing and clarifying ‘Fango’ or, simply, mud!

Sorgeto Hot Springs

Sorgeto is the most well known of all of the hot spring locations, close to Panza in Forio, and is both free and always open, so you can take a night-trip if you want and bathe under a cloak of starry sky. Even if it’s cold outside, once you’re under the water there’s a steady heat, a little like a hot bath that never cools down. It’s reached by climbing down onto a little beach, where you can bathe in individual rock pools. These are heated to bubbling consistency by the natural volcanic action.

Citara

At Citara beach, you can also avail of the properties of the hot springs for free, this time the natural sea water mixes with the thermal water, making pockets of warm, salted water perfect for floating  – and relaxing. It’s a little like those saline floatation tanks at expensive spa resorts – except it’s free!

Poseidon thermal garden Ischia_Villa Italy

And if you want to indulge in a little more luxury, head across to the Poseidon Thermal Gardens, also located in the beautiful bay of Citara. The thermal wellness centre boasts no less than 22 different swimming pools, each with its own temperature – from icy cold to baking hot. The waters here are naturally fed through from the hot springs and visitors can treat themselves to hydrotherapy treatments, Kneipp pools, natural saunas, sea-water pools, or why not just relax on a sun bed with a good book in the beautiful Ischia sunshine?

Cartaromana Beach

If you’ve decided on a day’s sightseeing, and Castello Aragonese is on your list, you could include a stop off at closeby Cartaromana Beach, where you’ll find small pockets of thermal waters, which you may avail of whilst using the sturdy cliff face as a backrest. Every so often you can brace yourself for a swim in the chilier sea, and return again to the warm and relaxing thermal waters to take the chill off.

Ischia Natural Hot Springs_Villa ItalyCavascura Natural Springs

On the southwestern coast of Ischia, is the wine producing region of Barano d’Ischia. Aside from a visit to the region’s vineyards, it’s recommend to visit the golden sands of Moranti Beach, where you find the grottos of Cavascura. The caves act as a natural sauna created by the steam which escapes from the thermal depths below. Interspersed with dips in the sea, it’s an interesting experience, not for the faint-hearted but certainly improves circulation!

Nitrodi Natural Springs

Barano is home to not one, but two natural spring sites. Dating back to Roman times, the natural springs of Nitrodi are a natural phenomena visited by devotees from far and wide. The ancient origins of this wellness complex only add to the incredible experience of the thermal waters themselves. So curative are the waters of Nitrodi, their therapeutic properties were recognised by Italy’s Department of Health in 2003. Visitors suffering from varicose veins, burns, and skin conditions, such as eczema, acne, psoriasis and neurodermatitis, are said to especially benefit from Nitrodi’s water.

Nitrodi combines the natural springs with aromatherapy gardens and therapeutic infusions which combined make for a full day’s indulgence. Soothing from the inside out!

The Fumaroles of Sant’Angelo

The scorched and dry sands of Le Fumarole Beach, which in some parts can reach up to 100-150 degrees celsius, are evidence of the volcanic basin below. The thermal vapours emitted through the sand are said to treat many diseases, and can even cook a chicken or shellfish whilst you relax!

Le Fumarole Beach is located in gorgeous Sant’Angelo, one of the most laid-back and least touristy destinations in Ischia. It’s worth exploring the rest of Sant’Angelo during your visit.

Hydrothermal Negombo Gardens

negombo beach Ischia_Villa Italy

The Hydrothermal Negombo Gardens is situated in San Montano Bay in Lacco Ameno. Aside from the thermal gardens, it’s a stunning beautiful place to visit. To visit the gardens you pay an entrance fee; the price dependent on whether you wish a full day or half day pass, and it’s open from April to October.

There are a dozen types of swimming pools and baths, each heating to varying temperatures. Including an impressive 33 metre sea water pool with fabulous views and a Japanese labyrinth pool said to highly improve circulation. Visitors are welcome to use the private beach area, and a visit wouldn’t be complete without savouring the fine cuisine at Trattoria Casa Colonica. Situated in Negombo Thermal Gardens, it’s one the best restaurants on Ischia.

Ischia town from castello aragonese_Villa Italy

Sublime Italy: Ahhh…. Ischia!

Ischia town from castello aragonese_Villa Italy

Ischia town taken from Castello Aragonese

Situated in the Gulf of Naples, just one hour’s ferry ride from the swagger and hullabaloo of Naples city, lies the ethereal garden paradise of Ischia. At only 17 square miles the volcanic island is small, yet flawless.

If you want to holiday like the Italians, check in at Ischia. Whilst the throng of summer tourists flock to neighbouring Capri, those in-the-know are soaking up the quintessential charm of this fragrant island.

There are many facets to Ischia’s charm, but one of the main attractions is its languid approach to tourism. Although the Napolitanos have been visiting Ischia for decades, this is a community that lives, works and breathes the island, 365 days a year. Admittedly, some of the larger towns, such as Ischia Porto, Ischia Ponte and Casamicciola Terme thrive on the steady hum of tourists that frequent the island during the summer months. On Ischia, you can always find somewhere to escape the crowds.

The rocky outcrop would satisfy even the most demanding of tourist. In just 17 square miles Ischia boasts sublime beaches, crystalline bays, spectacular scenery and bubbling thermal springs. Complemented by beautiful people, mouthwatering gastronomy, and an exuberant nightlife. And lest we forget the many historical treasures that tell of Ischia’s rich past.

Let’s take a tour of Ischia’s highlights

Fortezza Ischia_Castello Aragonese

Castello Aragonese

Step off the ferry or hydrofoil in Ischia Porto and your senses are pervaded by the sights and smells of authentic Italy. Ischia’s capital is divided into the two districts of Ischia Porto & Ischia Ponte.

Port town it maybe, but Ischia Porto is also a popular tourist destination for those who appreciate a faster paced vacation. The hustle and bustle of everyday life is interspersed with five star hotels, designer shopping, fine dining and a exuberant nightlife. Head to the Riva Destra neighbourhood for the best bars and restaurants.

Ischia Ponte is home to the arresting Castello Aragonese, Ischia’s iconic Medieval citadel. The castle keeps a noble watch over Ischia Ponte, and a trip to the island wouldn’t be complete without visiting Castello Aragonese. Access is via a bridge that links from Ischia Porto, and aside from discovering the island’s great history, one can also marvel at the fabulous views to the protected islands of Vivara and Procida.

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Beautiful Procida

The islands are connected by a bridge. Whilst Vivara is an uninhabited natural reserve; its only building an old hunting lodge built by the Duke De Guevara in 1681. Procida is rich in architectural and artistic heritage. Pretty coloured dwellings are dotted around the island. Legend has it that they were once fisherman’s cottages, painted different colours so the fishermen could see their home whilst out at sea fishing. The three kilometre coastline of the two islands are rich in marine life, rare plants and migratory. A visit is not to be missed.

There are several good beaches, or spiaggia, in and around Ischia Porto and Ponte: San Pietro, Pagoda Beach, Fisherman’s Beach (Spiaggia dei Pescatori), and Cartaromana Beach to name a few.

three wheels car Ischia vacation_villa italy

The best stop for a soak

Further along the northern coastline is the town of Casamicciola . The spa (Terme) town is a favoured destination for Napolitanos who travel direct on the ferry or hydrofoil, or for the privileged, on their private yacht into the luxury marina. The happy-go-lucky feel in this pretty town makes for a perfect place to sit at a roadside cafe and watch the world go by. Around Casamicciola there are several gorgeous villages to visit: Perrone, Castiglione, Piazza Bagni, La Rita, La Sentinella and Piazza Maio.

One of the most pleasurable experiences to enjoy on Ischia is a visit to one the island’s natural springs or thermal spas. There are several excellent locations to enjoy this therapeutic activity, and Casamicciola is home to two of the best thermal spas on the island – Castiglione Thermal Park and O Vagnitiello Thermal Park.

Fascinating Forio

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Street life in Forio

Sitting on the slopes of Ischia’s 780 metre Monte Epomeo is Forio. The island’s second largest town is awash with charisma and vitality. A canvas of lush green hills wash down to the beautiful turquoise sea. Splashes of colour break up the natural hues, as the town’s colourful old buildings, street markets and port breath fun and laughter into the canvas.

It’s hard not to be charmed by Forio. Home to two of the island’s best beaches: San Francesco and Citara; to the ancient and beautiful Chiesa del Soccorso (Navigator Church), and the Poseidon Thermal Gardens, where visitors can bathe in no less than 22 swimming and bathing pools, sourced from the bubbling hot springs that derive from the island’s volcanic activity.

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Villa Torre dell’Aquila, Forio

Nestled into the lush countryside of Forio on the road up to our exclusive vacation residence, Villa Torre dell’Aquila, is the sublime Giardini della Mortella (La Mortella Gardens). Belonging to the estate of British composer William Walton, the Mediterranean and subtropical gardens are widely acclaimed to be the most beautiful in Italy. People come to Ischia just to visit Giardini della Mortella.

Originally designed by landscape architect Russell Page, the gardens were a declaration of love between William and his Argentinian wife, Susana Walton, who then nurtured the garden for over 50 years. It’s hard not to fall in love with Ischia once you’ve visited this magical and very special oasis.

An experience not to be missed is admiring the sunset from Forio Point. It’s said the setting sun creates a strange optical illusion, and it’s where the fisherman’s wives used to wait for their husbands to sail in. For amorous couples it’s a wonderful spot for a proposal!

Chic and laid-back, if you are looking for pure escapism, we recommend a visit to the unspoilt fishing village of Sant’Angelo. Only accessible by foot, the gorgeous village has remained relatively untouched by tourism. Frequented only by savvy travellers, definitely not for day trippers, Sant’Angelo is nestled in a beautiful bay, hemmed in by just the cyan sea and sky. 

And mamma mia the food!

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Zuppetta di Cozze

It’s said you should never have to endure a bad meal in Ischia. The cuisine is sooo good, whether you choose simple and rustic, or elegant and expensive. There are plenty of great restaurants, many affording the most spectacular views the island has to offer. Fish restaurants are aplenty, and of course being an island, the fish is fresh and delicious.

You mustn’t go home without trying coniglio all’ischitana, a traditional rabbit dish from Ischia. And of course the pizza, well we are off the coast of Naples, birthplace of pizza! There are so many great pizzerias across the island, and the mozzarella…. buonissimo!