Ischia is the largest island in the bay of Naples and is considered by many to be the most beautiful, (though Capri is considerably more famous). The island is 10 km from east to west and 7 km north to south. It has a coastline of 34 km and covers an area of 46.3 sq km. It has a permanent population of approximately 58,000. Up to 6 million tourists (principally from the Italian mainland and Germany) flock to the island for its volcanic thermal spas and as well for its beaches and food.
Several towns are located along the island's coast. The largest city in Ischia is actually (and often confusingly, for tourists) called Ischia. The town of Ischia, however, has two different centers: Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte. Ischia Porto is the commercial center of the island and is named after the main port. Ischia Ponte ("ponte" meaning "bridge" in Italian) is named for the area surrounding and including the footbridge that was constructed to connect the Castello Aragonese with the island. Beside the town of Ischia, some of the other centres are Lacco Ameno, Casamicciola, Forio, Barano, Sant'Angelo, and the jointed town of Serrara-Fontana.
Ischia — historically called Pitecusae — has been colonized in turn by the Greeks, Syrausansa, Romans, Saracens, Turks, and Aragonese; all of whom were interested in its excellent strategic position as well as its therapeutic hot-spring waters and of course its attractive landscape. The result of all this varied history can be seen in the ruins of various outposts, towers, and "tufa" rock shelters hidden all over the island.
More recently Ischia has become a frequent backdrop for Italian and American movies such as “Vacanze ad Ischia”, “Appuntamento ad Ischia”, and "The Talented Mr.Ripley". The island has also been used as a cinematic stand-in for the Island of Capri.
The best time for the traveler to visit Ischia is from April to October, however, the weather in Ischia is always changing and visitors should expect both sunshine and rain — whatever the season. Summer, the main tourist season, combines long, hot days with lengthy evenings. Winter can be bitterly cold and wet, with short daylight hours.
Flora and fauna
Also called the "Green Island", Ischia enjoys hot and dry summers and mild winters along with a pronounced fertility which is a result of having almost an entirely volcanic soil. These factors allow Mediterranean plants to thrive all over the island, and sub-tropical and tropical species to successfully occupy niches in the warmest areas.
On the Southern side of the island, the continuous exposure to direct sunlight favors tropical and desert vegetation which is mainly represented by palms, cactus' and agave plants with Mediterranean trees hiding in the shade of inlets and bends. On the Northern side of the island in the shade cast by Mount Epomeo, you'll find chestnut trees, as well as typical Mediterranean trees such as the holm oak, cypress, and cork trees as well as cultivated almond trees, vines, and olive trees.
Ischia mud originates from the geologic evolution of the island where, over the centuries, many hydrovolcanic eruptions and earthquakes changed the soil composition. The hot waters and muds, all “thermal” or “hypertermal” i.e. they are at the same time hot or very hot and very rich in minerals content. In spite of their diversity, all the muds have the same standard features: sodium, chlorine, potassium, calcium and sulphur in the form of sulphates and sulphides. Because of the variety of different chemicals found in them, different waters and mud are recommended for different treatments. The Italian Ministry of Health produces a document that has updates on which waters and muds are suitable for therapeutic treatments and illness and diseases which can be treated. According to this document, disease which can be treated are: rheumatic diseases such as arthrosis; respiratory diseases; dermatological diseases such as psoriasis, atopical dermatitis, eczema (except for exudative bladdery forms), chronic seborrhea; gynecological diseases such as pelvis tissue sclerosis; diseases of the gastroenteric apparatus such as gastroenteric or bilious dyspepsia, and intestinal disorders associated with constipation.
Cavascura and Olmitello Thermal water
While traveling around Sant’Angelo there are several footpaths that can take you up the hilltops. One of these is a footpath that goes to the thermal springs of Cavascura and Olmitello. To get there, take a taxi boat from the square of Sant’Angelo to the Fumarole beach. Here, with the beach behind you, take the footpath from the right side of the beach which is flanked by oleander trees. The first stretch is steep, with a few houses on both sides, then it levels out and there are Mediterranean bushes and a variety of plants such as figs, capers, prickly pears, etc. On the right, there is a view of the Maronti beach. Passing under a natural arch, turn right to reach the beach. Here is the entrance to Cavascura. There are all types of typical restaurants and at the back of the canyon are the antique thermal springs of Cavascura. Going back, climbing the steps through the vine yards, you will arrive at the antique establishment of Cava Olmitello, which sadly to say is in disuse. Here, as you make your way through the bushes, with only the croaking of frogs, you can imagine yourself traveling back in time when the world was a much simpler place.
While Italian and Neapolitan are the native languages on the island, most people working in the tourism industry speak at least one other language, with German and English being the most widely spoken second languages. It should also be noted that the island of Ischia also has its own dialect of Italian, which can make it difficult for visitors to understand at times.
There is no airport on the island. The closest airport is the Naples International Airport . it is possible by taxi to reach two harbours (Beverello and Mergellina) of Naples in 20-30 minutes although there is a fixed price to get to Beverello, making it the preferred choice. There is also the Alibus  line, which connects directly with the harbour of Napoli Beverello. From these harbours, regular ferry crossings connect to Ischia.
From Rome (A1) - From Bari (A16) - From Salerno (A30). It is better to follow the road markings for the Tangenziale (bypass) (exit No. 12) and to go on towards Pozzuoli. Then go out at the Via Campana (exit No. 12) and go on towards the Harbour of Pozzuoli (ferries only), which is about four km far away. You can also reach the harbour of Naples Beverello (both ferries and hydrofoils). You don't have to turn into the Tangenziale, but to follow the road markings for the Zona Portuale (Harbour area) and, after the exit, to go on for the harbour, which is about five km far from the highway.
08:00 (to Alilauro) (weekdays) 09:35 (to Alilauro) (except Saturdays - via Ischia) 10:30 (to Alilauro) (via Ischia) 14:35 (to Alilauro) 17:00 (To Alilauro)
Most boats arriving in Ischia stop first in Ischia Porto, and then make additional stops in Casamicciola and Forio.
Taxis in Naples to the boats:
It is easy to take a taxi from the rail station or airport to the harbour. In this case take a look at the "Fix prices table" that any taxi driver must show in his car. Taxi drivers will often try to get tourists to pay more than necessary for the short ride from central station to the port, so be sure to either bargain or ask for the fixed price (prezzo fisso). For example, from the rail station Centrale to the Beverello harbour the fix total price is currently 9.50 EUR total, not per person, nothing more (though they may not allow more than four people in a taxi at a time). From the airport to the harbour of Beverello the fix total price is currently 16 Euros.
Getting off the boat in Ischia:
When taking many of the ferries from Naples to Ischia, it is important to pay close attention when disembarking. Many people make the mistake of getting off the boat, and disembark at the island of Procida instead of Ischia. It is recommended that visitors ask the people working on the boat if the boat stops at Procida. Also, be sure to pay attention to which port you get off at, even if you are at the island of Ischia.
The ferry from Pozzuoli goes direct to Ischia Porto.
As stated above, different boats make stops at several ports. It is best to know exactly which town you are aiming for. If you do not have a specific city in mind, the largest hub of activity and the largest port is called "Ischia Porto" (this port city is often called simply "Ischia", although this can be confusing as it is also the name of the island as a whole). You can find transportation to other parts of the island, tourist information, and food and shelter there, if all else fails.
The public bus service connects the various urban centres of the island through frequent journeys, most of them having their terminus in the town of Ischia Porto close to the harbour. The fare for a single journey (valid 90 minutes) is € 1.20, with tickets purchasable in advance from newsstands, bars, travel agencies and tobacconists. Tickets can also be purchased on board from the driver (or sometimes a helper in the front of the bus who also shouts out stop names) for the slightly higher price of € 1.70. Tickets valid for longer durations (for example one or two-day tickets) are also available, usually only from the official ticket centres like in Ischia Porto bus stop. All tickets must be validated on boarding the bus. Tickets are regularly checked. The busses are often very crowded. The bus stops are often near a very busy street with high traffic.
Two most important bus routes are called CD and CS, both of which starts from Ischia porto, takes a circular tour around the island, and returns again to Ischia porto. Bus CD takes a clockwise route, while CS takes a anti-clockwise route. Using one of these two buses, one can get a cheap and easy trip around the island (little over 1 hour total round trip time).
As with many other tourist destinations, visitors should confirm the price to their destination with the taxi driver before getting into the taxi. With most taxis not running on a meter, this is the surest way to ensure that you are not overcharged. When taking an ad-hoc taxi (taxi drivers just hanging out on the street) it's also worth haggling about the price of the trip beforehand as usually the initially quoted price is higher than the normal price of the trip.
There are half-day roundtrips to all six communities of Ischia with stops at the most beautiful sightseeing stops of the islands. Price is €11.00.
Villas, Parks and Museums
Ischias thermal springs have been renowned since ancient times and have been tested by many Italian and foreign scientists, for their therapeutic features. Not only are the thermal waters used in baths and thermal gardens, but they can found in small springs on some beaches and streams of spouting that feature hot water gushing into the sea as well as steam spouts (fumaroles) with gases gushing from cracks in the soil. Fumaroles can also be observed on the slopes of the Mount Epomeo, particularly on cold days, or are located into small caves, called “stoves”, and idiomatically “sudatori” or “sudaturi” (from the Italian verb meaning “to perspire”) which are used as a kind of sauna in baths and thermal gardens. Springs and spouting steam can be considered as the manifest sign of Ischia's volcanic origins and of the still persisting volcanic activity. The particular features of the subsoil, due to its structure and chemical composition affect the minerals content and the degree of dilution by sea and rain water. According to many scientists, the location and features of the springs are affected by the combination of the above mentioned factors. The most ancient springs are those of Casamicciola, consecrated to the god Apollo, those of Lacco Ameno consacrated to Hercules, those of Citara in Panza consacrated to Venus Citarea, and those of Barano consacrated to Nitrodi Nymps.
As described above, there is a tiny white-washed church located in a truly spectacular position: in the square on the Punta del Soccorso in Forio, that looks out onto the crystal clear sea - a typically Mediterranean site of astounding beauty.
One of the many things that make Ischia such a great place to visit is the variety of events from musical events and festivals to the handicrafts markets in the historical center and sports events. In spring and summer, the various villages organize several events: many of them religious festivals, which are an important part of the island’s tradition and cultural identity. Here follow the events calendar of the Estate Ischitana 2006:
Island Trips by Boat
An trip around the island of Ischia by boat allows you to see the coast-line that otherwise is not visible. Boat tours leave from Forio, Ischia, Sant'Angelo, Lacco Ameno and Casamicciola. If leaving from the port of Sant’Angelo, sailing westwards you can see the Elephants Grotto then in front of you there is a deep inlet which is low and sandy in one part and in others high and rocky which continue until you reach Punto Chiarito, passing the beaches of Cava Ruffano, Cava Grado and the Green Grotto. At Punto Chiarito there is the Bay of Sorgeto with its hot water and muds. Then the coast-line becomes very high, deeply articulated, with rockfaces, precipices, recesses and promontories of: Capo Negro, Punta Pilaro, and Chianare Spadaia with its rocks like the Boat Rock, until you reach Capo Imperatore with its lighthouse. At first the coast-line is high and steep, then it drops and there is the long and winding beach of Citara. Then it rises softly towards Punta Soccorso and Forio. Passing the coast-line is low and sandy opening onto the beach of San Francesco, which laps the offshoots of Monte Caruso. Here the coast-line is high bare rockfaced, jutting out, then curving inwards before arriving at Punta Caruso and Punta Cornacchia. Between Punta Cornacchia and the offshoots of Monte Vico, with its point of the same name, there is the delightful Beach of San Montano, and Lacco Ameno. Lacco Ameno is noted for its characteristic rock of tufo, shaped like a mushroom. Along the coast there are the houses of Casamicciola Terme. A little farther along there is Punta Scrofa with the English beach, then the bay of Ischia Porto. Past Punto Molino formed from the lava flow of the Arso, there is the Pescatori beach, from here you can admire the island with its castle and the Aragonese bridge. After the bridge there is an inlet for the Cartaromana beach. In the middle of the sea the rocks of Sant’Anna emerge, and going southwards is Punta Pisciazza. The section of the coast that concludes the southern side of the island is high, rocky and marked by the promontory jutting out of Punta Lume, Punta Parate and Punta San Pancrazio. On this side of the island there is the Mago grotto and other grottos. From Punta San Pancrazio the coast-line continues for a few kilometers until Capo Grosso: This stretch of coast-line is commonly known as The Scarrupata. After another small stretch of coast-line there is the beach of Maronti, where the small island of Sant’Angelo can be seen, which was the starting point of the round trip of the island.
If you do not mind splurging while visiting the area, you can charter a yacht from one of the local brokerages, such as Silver Star Yachting . The area is ideal for holidays afloat - you can go to the nearby Naples and Capri as well as to other islands in the vicinity. There are plenty of pristine beaches, hidden coves and snorkeling spots in the area.
A Trip to Monte Epomeo
Arriving at Fontana by foot or by riding a mule you can reach the peak, which is about 800 metres above sea level. Monte Epomeo is an enormous rock of tufa, in which rooms of an ex hermit and a church which is dedicated to San Nicola (recently restored) have been carved into its sides. During the day the view is marvellous, you can see the whole island of Ischia, Capri and the bay of Naples. At night you can see the town of Forio in a candid light, like an oriental city with the stars slowly fading into the sea, and dawn slowly breaking with its famous green ray.
Many of Ischia's best dance clubs are in Forio and Ischia Porto
In every village there are streets where you can go exciting shopping for craftsman ships, agricultural local products. The Boutiques, that sell the Famous brand clothes, mark the shopping route:
Ceramics making and decorating is an ancient art. This tradition has been handed down through the centuries, developing new techniques and producing a wide variety of different objects. Ceramics include objects dedicated to two main categories: objects for domestic use, such as dishes, pots, small decorative sculptures, and objects for the building industry such as tiles for paving, roofing tiles, pipes, bath tubs and so on. Terracotta is made of common clay and contains many iron impurities. Assyrians, Babylonians and Egyptians used to dry products of this kind in the sun. If it is baked in an oven, it will become dark red, assuming the particular colour known as terra-cotta - varying in intensity as in relation to its chemical composition. It is suitable to be covered by transparent glazes which seal the pot and make it bright and smooth. Usually it will then be painted and decorated in many different ways. On the Island the main example of ceramics production is represented by the old workshop Mennella in Casamicciola or Taki in Forio: the workshop as well as a large exhibition of products are accessible to visitors. All around there are small pottery workshops.
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It is not possible to know if it is because of that mountain that climbs towards the sky giving the idea of an island-not-island, or because of the mixture of land and sea that Ischia has kept that primitive and wild feeling that now meets modernity . For all this reasons this island is a priceless place, especially for the taste. It is an land island. Staring from the rabbit, always cooked in terracotta baking-pan with a clove of garlic, wine, little tomatoes, lard and local spices: poor ingredients for an old and very savoury dish.
Indivisible from the Ischitanian rabbit is this very savoury main course that is served with the very simple but very rich rabbit sauce. In latest years the pit rabbit became like a totem for the island. The rabbit is bred after the old manner. It lives its natural state: wild, in woods and mountains, and grows up (as for many centuries) in pits and only feeds with wild grass.
Snails are picked along the dry walls (parracine) and in woods. They are cooked in the traditional way with wild grass, especially in the internal par of the island.
An appetizer or main course (if served with mozzarella cheese), Ischitanian Caponata directly originates from the typical insalata cafona (peasant salad). The peasant used to eat it for lunch, in the countryside, during the working time. Nowadays there are many recipes, the oldest one combines little tomatoes, onion, stale bread or freselle, salad and wild grass.
Fish in Ischia does not disappoint. There are many ways to buy it fresh, directly in fish-shops or at the paranza(trawler) when fishermen come back from the sea. Typical of the island are macaroni with sea food, linguine with sea-urchins and different species of local fish served in many ways: marinated, cooked in the oven, with spaghetti. The paranza fry is very famous: a lot of fried little fish of different species depending on what fishermen found. Usually they bring basses white breams, giltheads, little tuna, crayfish, calamari, squids and langoustes that enrich the menu of restaurants and agritourisms.
Some passionately fond, produce honey made from bees wax, citrus fruits or flowers. The local honey has a consistency and a taste very different from the others.
There is a town between Barano and Serrara Fontana called buonopane (good bread). Here they have been making bread for centuries. Cooked only in wood ovens it is kneaded with the crisc’to a natural yeast of acid mother paste. The bread is still kneaded by hand, and its smell in the morning is stirring. All over the island. All over the island there are ovens making bread.
The rural culture is confirmed by the cultivation of many kinds of vegetables, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, courgettes, artichokes and garden rockets.
The legume are very good: lentils, chicklings, beans (they have curious and unusual varieties called pipers –purple red colored- and fascists - with black nuances).
The volcanic soil favours the growth of tomatoes. They are picked up in clusters and twisted to create the typical pendolikept in dry and fresh place.
Of course you'll also find all of the regional specialties (such as the origianl Mozzarella cheese) from Campania served on the island.
On the Island of Ischia, the viticulture has millenarian origins. The cultivation technique is like the Greek traditional one. In fact, it is different from that one used in the middle of Italy and in the rest of the Campania province. From the coasts to the steep mountain slopes is where the vine is cultivated on proper terraced fields. Here is a list of the most famous and diffused kinds of grapes, all cultivated in the island from about 300 years ago: White Grapes - Biancolella, Forastera, and Arilla S. Lunardo; Red Grapes – Guarnaccia and Pedirosso o Pere e Palummo.
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Ischia is generally a safe destination, even for women travelling alone. The local Police are also generally friendly to women... if not always helpful. There are four main police forces in Italy: the Carabinieri  (black uniform) belong to the Ministry of Defence and perform a number of different duties; the Polizia di Stato  (blue tunics and grey pants) are part of the Ministry of Interior and perform general police duties such patrolling the highways; Polizia Municipale (city police) responsible for parking tickets, directing traffic, etc; and Guardia di Finanza  (grey uniforms) do customs work, but also check vehicles to make sure owners have paid proper car taxes. If you are robbed, try to find a police station and report it. This is essential to establishing a secure travel insurance claim.
In an emergency, call 113 (police) or 118 (medical first aid). Carry the address of your embassy or consulate.
From the ports of Forio and Ischia there are daily trips to the following destinations: