A Relaxing Getaway to Ischia, Italy
Food & Wine
Ischia is one of Italy's best kept secrets — a quieter, authentic (and more affordable) option to Capri, right off of the Amalfi Coast. Just a quick boat ride away from Naples, Ischia has plenty to offer, from quaint fisherman villages and natural hot springs to wineries and chic beach clubs. This is the perfect place to unwind and spend your days lounging at the beach, relaxing in the thermal baths and eating your bodyweight in pasta. And as they say in Ischia, this is "Il Dolce Far Niente."
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Where to stay in Ischia
San Montano Resort & Spa
Upscale property overlooking the Pontine Islands with nautical-themed rooms and suites.
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Things to do in Ischia
In Ischia, there are some pretty spectacular beach clubs. My personal favorite is Club Scanella, a chic beach set-up with multiple swimming pools overlooking the ocean. If you're planning to head here, be prepared for lots of steps. Giardino Eden was another favorite with a mini water park, delicious drinks (get the limoncello spritz) and a stunning view of the castle. Right next door is Gardenia Mare, another picturesque beach club serving the freshest fish with bright yellow loungers (perfect for an instagram photo) and a calm bay to swim around in.
Since Ischia is a volcanic island, one of the top reasons to visit is the natural thermal hot springs with healing waters and volcanic mud that help with a wide array of health benefits. There are many places to enjoy these hot springs, the most popular being Negombo and Poseidon, offering both thermal parks and gardens. Another option is to visit the natural hot springs of Sorgeto, a natural jacuzzi located in a beach cove that soothes the body and eases aches and pains. Many hotels around the island also offer thermal baths on the property. I stayed at San Montano and absolutely loved basking in the 90-degree pools (with a negroni in hand) after a long day exploring the island.
The volcanic soil and mild climate of Ischia makes it a paradise for vineyards and making wine. If you're looking to enjoy a wine tasting, look no further than Cenatiempo, a family-run business focusing on natural wine. Casa D'Ambra is another wonderful option, with scenic views of the bay and some of the most famous wines in Ischia.
Spend a morning soaking up some history and walk around Castello Aragonese, the island's most impressive landmark. Located in Ischia Ponte, this medieval castle dates back nearly 2,500 years. Cross the bridge from the main square and get a glimpse into the history by visiting the castle, churches, ruins of a cathedral and even the torture museum, if you're brave enough!
Sant Angelo, an old fishing village, was my favorite town to explore from its boutique shops, restaurants and bars overlooking the marina to a beach right in the center of it all. It's especially fun to explore with a gelato in hand! Forio was another great town to wander around with churches, shops and cute little cafes. I highly recommend stopping into Serpico, a local Italian grocery store where you can sample homemade aperol, limoncello and salume.
Another incredible way to explore the island is by sea. Plan a day trip by boat to get a different view of the island and even eat at a restaurant only accessible by boat!
Places to Eat & Drink in Ischia
I'll start with my absolute favorite and a must-go-to on the Island, Il Focolare. If you've watched Stanley Tucci's Searching for Italy, you might remember this restaurant and it does not disappoint! A family0run restaurant with a warm and bustling atmosphere, it specializes in the famous coniglio all'ischitana (rabbit stew.) If you're lucky, they'll even give you a tour of the wine cellar.
Enjoy a delicious dinner at O'Pignatello, located right in the Lacco Ameno piazza and run by the most lovely husband and wife. Be sure to order one of the homemade digestifs after your meal.
Set high in the hills, La Cantinola di Zio Jack serves local country dishes with a breathtaking view of Ischia's coastline. Insider tip: Time your reservation at sunset and schedule your shuttle service to the restaurant in advance!
For a more authentic dining experience (and if you're willing to brave a steep climb,) head to Le Stufe Osteria. I happened to dine here on a weekend and was treated to an incredible local band playing folk music in the square, creating the perfect ambiance.
La Romantica and Pizzeria La Tinaia, both located in Forio, are a couple of other crowd favorites on the island.
If you're visiting the Negombo thermal baths during the day, hit up Trattoria Casa Colonica del Negombo for lunch, a laid-back spot serving fresh fish and pasta.
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