The island of Capri, off Naples, is pretty well-known. But less well-known to foreign tourists is the island of Ischia, less than an hour by boat from Naples, and equally worthwhile. Take my recommendations below for what to do on Ischia island.
Natural Hot Springs
Ischia island is of course wonderful in the summer because of its sandy beaches. but the island is actually famous for its natural hot springs, making it a wonderful place to visit in the cooler months.
What to eat on Ischia
Go to Ischia anytime for good food: fish, of course, but also try the local dish coniglio all’ischitana, made with rabbits bred in a ditch (yes, really), and don’t forget to sample the local wine and honey as well.
Learn about Ischia’s History
Like most places in Italy, Ischia has a rich history which dates back to the Greeks in the 7th century B.C. When you’re done at the beach, or to learn about Ischia’s long history, visit:
- the Archaeological museum, which among other artifacts houses the famous Nestor’s Cup from Homer’s Illiad;
- the Sea Museum to see old nautical instruments, fishing equipment, and models of boats;
- the Farmer’s Museum to see original farming equipment;
- the whitewashed Church of the Soccorso for the spectacular views;
- the Sanctuary of Santa Restituita built 1000 years ago;
- the Castello Aragonese, accessible by crossing a short bridge from Ischia Porto, which was built to protect the island from pirates. The castle inspired 16th century author Ludovico Ariosto to write the famous poem Orlando Furioso which is included in the Italian classico high school curriculum to this day.
Getting around Ischia
Ischia is small enough to easily explore in a few days, but big enough that you can’t do it on foot. Traffic can be heavy, the roads are narrow and winding, and parking can be a challenge, so we rented a couple scooters to get around, which ended up being a great solution after we figured out how to operate them (though the guy renting them to us had no qualms about handing over the keys with very little instruction).
I guess my only word of caution when planning a visit to Ischia is regarding the hotels: there are some nice ones, and some nice spas. But Ischia saw its boom in the 1960s, and many of the hotels seem to have been built around that time and not updated much. So do your research, or get a personal recommendation before booking. Or, let me help plan your Italy vacation – I’d love to do it!
Photo by Sanjay
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