Celebrated by Forbes as "one of Italy’s best-kept secrets”, Ischia is the must-see destination for summer 2021. Here is a selection of 4 things to do and see on one of Italy's first covid-free islands. Among food, excursions, history and a dip in its blue sea.
Ischia: eat, drink, and whistle!
About an hour's sailing from Naples, with its 46.3 km of surface, Ischia is the largest of the Gulf Islands. For most people, a vacation on the Green Island is synonymous with relaxation and wellness, a reputation that has been carved into its millennial history thanks to the numerous hot springs scattered across the territory. On the island of Ischia, you can enjoy being gently cradled by the waves in a rocky bay crossed by streams of warm water or sipping a drink by the pool, taking in the sun diving into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Nevertheless, you may feel like diving into the most authentic and characteristic part of the island life after such relaxing activities. In Ischia, you can live experiences that will conquer every traveller, from the adventurous hiker to the excellent food lover.
1. Taste Typical Dishes
As an old local saying goes, “Ischia: eat, drink, and whistle.” Fear not! We will not teach you how to whistle, but we will guide you to discover the typical dishes of Ischia.
For those who reach the island early in the morning, there is no better way to open their stay than to enjoy a delicious Ischia's Cornetto, the main character of breakfast on the island. A fusion between the French and Italian croissants, this dessert is prepared with a double dough made of puff pastry and brioche dough, and it is usually filled with custard and black cherry.
At lunch, don’t miss out on the chance to get your hands on the true king of the cuisine culture of this land, "Coniglio all'ischitana" (Rabbit Ischia's Style). According to tradition, the animal lived in deep holes that recreated a semi-wild environment. Not to be confused with the more famous Rabbit cacciatore, the local variant is prepared in a clay pan and needs the use of a few but distinctive ingredients that make it a unique speciality.
Street food lovers will not keep from tasting the most popular sandwich of Ischia, Zingara. Two slices of toasted bread stuffed with ham, mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and some lettuce leaves.
Eventually, after an abundant and gratifying meal with the typical dishes of Ischia, try a bitter made of piperna, an aromatic plant very similar to wild thyme that grows on the island.
2. Diving and Snorkeling in the sea of Ischia
Ischia waters hold wonderful treasures for snorkeling and scuba diving lovers. Dive among canyons, branches of sea fans, and the rare red coral, or take a snorkeling session in one of the many bays and rock caves surrounding the island. Some of the most beautiful diving sites include the so-called Secca delle Formiche, a shoal featuring rocky outcrops, caves, natural arches, and stone spires.
Located along the island's southern side, Punta Sant'Angelo and Punta San Pancrazio are two other dive sites teeming with fauna.
Have you ever swum near a mythological wreck? That is one of the evocative activities you can experience in Ischia. The ship-shaped rock known as Scoglio Della Nave represents the mythical galley that carried Ulysses to Ithaca. According to lore, Poseidon petrified just before returning to what French historian Philippe Champault identified as the island of the Phaeacians. Here, amidst caves and ravines, divers can swim in colourful marine vegetation.
3. Panoramic Treks
Those who decide to spend a trekking holiday in Ischia will be able to prove themselves in routes of varying difficulty that will satisfy the needs of both expert and amateur hikers. The island is a setting of scenic, environmental richness. Reaching the top of Mount Epomeo or enchanting bays and coves along panoramic paths overlooking the sea is an effort generously rewarded by the extraordinary beauty of these places.
One of the most exciting paths leads to the iconic pyramidal rocks known as Pizzi Bianchi. Following an old mule track lined with wine cellars and vineyards, you will find a stunning landscape very similar to Cappadocia. The itinerary along the canyon is winding and difficult, so make sure to venture out with a local guide.
Going a little higher, the trail leading to the highest point of Ischia, Mount Epomeo, crosses the woods of Frassitelli and Falanga. Walkthrough the so-called Fosse Della Neve (snowpits), various examples of rock architecture, and a troglodyte village. The highlight of this trek is the hermitage of San Nicola, a 15th-century church located near the summit.
Another route we recommend is the panoramic Piano Liguori, which stretches along terraced vineyards and cellars dug out of rock.
4. Visit Rural Villages
Not only the ancient fishing village of Ischia Ponte, the “brilliant" set of Elena Ferrante’s novels, or the famous Sant'Angelo, loved by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Suppose you want to explore the most hidden, rural and probably lesser-known soul of Ischia. In that case, you have to reach the upper part of the island, the municipality of Serrara Fontana, and then move on to the ancient farming villages of Calimera and Noia.
There are places suspended in time whose rock architecture tells of a past waiting to discover. Once inhabited mainly by shepherds, Calimera is a village located at the foot of Mount Epomeo and overlooking the Gulf of Naples. It is a nucleus of ancient green-stone buildings, stables, and caves now used as cellars for the wine produced by the locals.
Not far away, the tiny hillside village of Noia is like a presepe embedded in the island's hinterland and crisscrossed by narrow, characteristic streets lined with lime-painted houses typical of the Mediterranean architecture. From here, it is possible to walk along an impressive route that leads to the Pizzi Bianchi canyon and then to the hydrothermal basin of Cavascura and Maronti beach.
It is worth making a stop at Piano Liguori, the tiny farming village (just a handful of houses) among vineyards, vegetable gardens, and orchards, which offers visitors irresistible views. Those who don't suffer from vertigo can continue along the narrow paths of Schiappone and Scarrupata, walkways overlooking the sea.