Given that Ischia is an island, getting out on the water for sight seeing is a must. You can rent a boat and navigate around the island yourself, or book a tour, sit back and enjoy the ride. Contact our friend Dion Protrani of Ischia Review, he has a wealth of information, with perfect dual language skills, and can arrange a bareboat or skippered boat rental, nearby horse riding lessons among other things.
Initially settled by the Greeks as a trading post, Ischia became a resort area known to Europeans for centuries, achieving its earliest fame through Roman Emperors who frequented its abundant natural hot springs, showers, mud baths and steam rooms carved right out of the face of the ancient lava. Today beautiful health spas use these waters and trained medical staff to treat circulatory, skeletal, muscular and nervous disorders, as well as general therapy, skin care and relaxation.
Of the many spas on Ischia, three are particularly worth noting: Negombo Terme, Poseidon Gardens and Casigliano Terme. All have many pools of various sizes and temperatures varying between the extremes, water massage facilities, pools especially adapted to facilitate blood circulation, natural steam rooms and, at additional cost, mud masks, thermal stretching instructions, respiratory machines, massage, medical analysis and restaurants and cafés. All have access to beaches and have bountiful gardens. The primary difference is that Poseidon has more pools, is flatter and has more people. They all have a day or half day flat entrance fee.
The nearest beach to the villa is also the island's most famous, the Maronti. Just a five-minute drive away from the villa, it is a popular sand beach with restaurants and cafes, wind-surfing, traditional wooden fishing boats converted to water taxis and paddle boats. At the end farthest from the parking area, near the picturesque town of Sant’ Angelo, are large rocks from which rises natural steam, said to be helpful in sweating impurities from the body and cleaning the respiratory system. There are also thermal baths and steam rooms at the various beach-side hotels and spas, where there may be a modest charge for daily usage.
The most active dining, shopping, dancing and strolling scenes are found in the towns of Ischia Porto, Forio and Lacco Ameno. All offer great shopping and gelato. The many small towns dispersed throughout the island have their own unique charms, and make for delightful explorations. Please refer to the various guide books for more details.
You may have the universe if I may have Italy. – Giuseppe Verdi
Villa Beatrice lends itself to day-trips to Naples, Sorrento, Pompeii, Herculeum, Paestum, Capri, Procida and the Amalfi Coast. You can arrage for our driver to take you or you can take the ferry from Naples where the easily accessible central train station offers convenient transportation to these places and other destinations throughout Italy. Rome is a two-hour ride away, and Florence is four. In the town of Ischia Porto, on the main road via Roma, are tourist offices where information may be obtained from multilingual personnel regarding off island excursions as well as numerous island activities, but it may be easiest to just ask Peppe (see services for more info.)
Sant’ Angelo is a beautiful small town known for its arts and crafts, but it is really home to the best gelato on earth. Along the coast, past Sant’ Angelo, lies the beach known as Sorcetto, accessible by water taxi or by driving up past Barano and ensuing towns, and descending towards Sant’ Angelo. A small road cuts right before arriving at Sant’ Angelo (there are small signs and locals are happy to point the way, also see the map in the villa bookcase). It is a delightfully tranquil and panoramic setting; a small bay with high cliffs rising on either side. There is a walk down from the parking area, but the beauty, serenity, and excellent swimming make it well worth it. To the left are natural hot springs at the very edge of the sea, with porous rock for mud masks. These waters are said to be very good for the skin, are very relaxing (especially after an ocean swim), and are free.
At the center of the island is the mountain Epemeo (790 meters), affording tremendous walks on all flanks, with stunning views on all sides. At the summit, most improbably, there is a centuries-old monastery (now converted to a café) with a chapel carved out of the rock, dedicated to Saint Nicholas. One can drive fairly high up or take a mule to reduce the walk. Various routes can be undertaken, depending on the wishes of the walker. It is a wonderful walk, so we advise making the effort to get there.
Drive up to the right past Barano and bear right around the island. Its a rather long drive that way, perhaps 25 minutes, but you will eventually wend your way quite high up the mountain past a few towns and finally at the town of Fontana, just after a sharp left hand curve in the road at the “Casa Museo di Salvatore di Meglio” there is a right hand turn with a small sign saying “Mt Epomeo.” Follow that further up in first gear mostly to the end of the paved road where you can park and head up the cement road to the left where there is a restaurant, on foot which then turns into the trail. (Or ask Peppe to take you! Find Peppe's information on the "Services" page of this site.)
More accessible to the villa is the Mountain Rotaro and its many side hillocks (trail head five-minute drive). Exiting the driveway to the right, take a right at the main road, straight into Fiaiano, a left at the big tree in the center of the road, in the center of town. This road curves sharply up and around to the right then left before flattening out on a straight-away. Park to the right along the road next to the Aragon Stables. Then retrace 20 steps and across the road there is the stone cobbled path leading up. These stables are open to the public and have an abundance of well kept horses (including what is reputed to be the worlds smallest) various fowl, miniature goats, sheep etc. Riding lessons are also possible, highly recommended.
The car can in fact be left at the villa, in which case merely walk through town, then prior to the first sharp curve to the right, cut left on the small, cobble-stoned path. Here is located a map showing various trails. This increases the otherwise vigorous 35-minute walk straight to the top by about 20 minutes.
From the outpost of the Syracuse Greek Hiero I to the conquest of Alfonso of Aragon, from the splendour of Vittoria Colonna's wedding to Lord Nelson's bombing in 1809, from total abandonment to recovery through the intuition of a farsighted Ischian lawyer, the national monument Aragonese Castle has been through it all. Twenty five centuries of history between churches, convents, prisons, lush gardens and breathtaking views, suspended between the sky and the sea in a timeless atmosphere.
One of the great joys of traveling through Italy is discovering firsthand that it is, indeed, a dream destination. -- Debra Levinson
Giardini La Mortella
In 1958 Lady Susana Walton, the Argentine wife of the English composer Sir William Walton, founded La Mortella Gardens. Today, La Mortella features spectacular subtropical and Mediterranean gardens and is open to visitors from April through October. Designed by landscape architect Russell Page, La Mortella is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful private gardens of Italy.
Semi-tropical vegetation and chestnut groves make these various trails an extremely convenient and pleasant excursion. Near the oldest town on the island, Ischia Ponte, is the small fortified island of Castello Aragonese. Currently connected by a walkway, for centuries it was the virtually impregnable primary place of refuge for the Ischians in the event of piracy or state sanctioned pillaging ventures. Later converted to a nunnery, it is now a beautifully and traditionally maintained national monument.