3 minute read

If you’re planning a trip to Naples or Sorrento a day trip to Ischia is a fantastic idea. Fairly low-key when compared to the neighboring Isle of Capri, Ischia Island is rustically charming and full of surprises. The island landscapes are untouched and retain much of their natural beauty. As you meander the island you’ll discover an authenticity that is rare in those more touristy destinations. In short, Ischia is the real thing which makes it a memorable and “must-do” side trip.

Ischia is a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples. In the first century BC Emperor Augustus offered ischia, belonging to the Roman Empire, in trade for Capri, which was property of Naples. Capri, as you know, evolved into a magnet for the rich and famous and is, in itself, a wonderful destination. But Ischia retains a natural beauty that exemplifies real life and a relaxed charm that goes deep into the soul.

Enjoy the Journey

Arrive by ferry from Naples or Sorrento. Either departure point takes about an hour, give or take 20 minutes or so. In any event it is a pleasant experience in itself. Crossing to the island through the Gulf of Naples you’re surrounded by a beautiful sparkling blue sea and the warm Italian breezes.

The Castello Aragonese

As the ferry approaches the port of Ischia in Ischia Town one of the island's most impressive landmarks slowly rises to view. The imposing Aragonese Castle dates back to the 5th century BC. Since then it has passed among many dynasties, conquerors and empires. The castle has passed through a few different royal and noble clans as Naples fell under their control. When the castle was inhabited by Alfonso of Aragon the name Aragonese Castle (Castello Aragonese) stuck.

In addition to noble inhabitants and the less-than-noble as well the castle has served as a convent, a prison and a home for retired soldiers.

Once the unification of Italy took place the castle passed to the hands of the Italian government. It was abandoned at that point and left to ruin. Enter 20th century attorney Nicola Ernesto Mattera who, with his son, restored the castle to its original beauty. Definitely worth your time to tour the castle.

On Top of The World

The town of Serrara Fontana is the highest village on the island at nearly 1200 feet above sea level. You know that means the views are going to be incredible! From its lofty vantage point Serrara Fontana offers panoramic views of the Gulf of Naples and surrounding islands that take your breath away. Truly remarkable.

The town of Serrara Fontana also has a few outlying villages. The Village of Sant’Angelo is well worth a visit. The pedestrian-only fishing village offers plenty of charm and color. The local beach, LaFumarole, is nearby and has a fascinating phenomenon. The sand emits volcanic vapors which cause it to be quite warm. The name “fumarole” means volcanic opening.

A Lush and Lovely Garden

On the opposite side of the island you’ll find the lush subtropical botanical garden, Giardini La Mortella. Through the patronage of Lady Susana Walton and her famous composer husband Sir William Walton employed  the famous landscape architect Russell Page. The purpose was  to design a space that would include native subtropical and mediterranean plants incorporating  the dramatic volcanic rocks. This lush and lovely garden is absolutely a must-see for those who appreciate the natural beauty of the area.

Even More to See

There are six villages on the island of ischia and while each one is lovely in and of itself it is nearly impossible to enjoy each one in a day. As you arrive and depart from Ischia Porto we do recommend, if time allows, you take the opportunity to tour the Baroque style Cathedral of Ischia, Santa Maria Assunta. Inside you’ll find some gorgeous representations of art and architecture, including paintings by famed artists Alfonso Spigna and Giacinto Diano.

The neighboring village of Ischia Ponte is a brief 5-10 minute walk from Ischia Porto and is the “historic heart” of the island. Here you’ll find the colorful homes of fishermen, churches and more. It's on the way to Castle Aragonese.

A Few Details

There are plenty of places to stop for a meal in both Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte. While it's  convenient to get around Ischia by car it's not necessary. Public transportation is plentiful and fairly dependable.

Visiting Ischia island could be a nice pre or post addition to your Amalfi Coast Tour.

Ischia Island