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Capri’s lesser-known neighbour, Ischia, is actually one of Campania’s finest destinations. Known for its thermal baths, sandy beaches and soaring peaks, this island offers plenty to interest visitors, yet attracts a fraction of the fame heaped on nearby Capri.
Ischia is four times larger than its neighbour, and features some truly world-class attractions, including the spectacular Aragonese Castle and the beautiful Mortella Gardens. Better still, the island boasts numerous thermal gardens and natural springs, so it’s easy to enjoy some geo-thermal downtime.
In terms of resorts, there are three main contenders on offer, each with its own unique charms. The young or young at heart will love island’s capital, Porto d’Ischia, where trendy bars and a glamorous seafront beckon, while beachgoers may prefer Sant’Angelo, which is dominated by a spectacular swathe of sandy beach and backed by a dramatic mountain peak. Those wanting the best of both worlds should give Forio a go – it’s the perfect mix of coastal cool and Ischian culture, with historic alleyways to explore as well as a beautiful beachfront to stretch out on.
The closest airport to Ischia is Naples (NAP), which is approximately 2 hours from Ischia via ferry (we recommend that flights into Naples arrive no later than 7pm and depart no earlier than 10am in order to catch the first/last ferry).
Direct flights to Naples airport (NAP) are available from Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle and take approximately 2 hours 45 minutes.
Ischia's season runs from April to October. The island is cooled by sea breezes so it's comfortable even in the height of summer, yet it enjoys warm temperatures for its whole season. June to August is the busiest time for the island but even during these months the evenings are relatively quiet as most people are only visiting for the day.
Enjoy a variety of seafood dishes, as well as local delicacies such as spiced risotto, stewed rabbit and grilled swordfish. Typical rabbit dishes (the island was once known for its abundance of wild rabbits) that can be enjoyed in Ischia are coniglio all'lschitana (Ischia-style rabbit) and bucantini with rabbit sauce. We can't talk about the gastronomy from this area without mentioning the staple pizza dish. You can find delicious, freshly baked pizzas across the island.
Thanks to the island's mild Mediterranean climate, volcanic soil and sea breeze, wines produced in Ischia are of a high quality and include the renowned Ischia Bianco and Ischia Biancolella, both dry white wines.
Originally named Pithekoussai after the pithos (pottery clay) found there, Ischia was one of the first Greek colonies in the 8th century BC. Ischia was then used as an important stop on the trade route from Greece to Northern Italy, so the Romans took over the island, renaming it Aenaria. The island has seen many rulers - it was taken over by the Spanish in 1495, while the French had occupation of it in the early 19th century.
One of the iconic sights on Ischia is the Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle that dates back nearly 2,500 years. The impressive castle, standing on a volcanic rock, was built by Hiero I of Syracuse in 474 BC. In 326 BC, the fortress was captured by the Romans, followed by the Parthenopeans - the original occupants of the castle. Until 1441, the volcanic rock was connected to Ischia by a wood bridge, then Alfonso V of Aragon built a stone bridge across to the island. In 1912, the castle was sold to a private owner, and today is visited by people from around the world.