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Ischia is an Italian island in the Gulf of Naples. Volcanic in origin, it’s the largest of the Phlegrean Islands, lying thirty kilometres from the city of Naples.
Covering an area of forty six-square-kilometres, Ischia is considered the Bay’s most attractive island, closely followed by its famous counterpart Capri, for its immaculate beaches and volcanic terrain. Spectacular thermal spas and hot springs, which are scattered throughout the island, still only attract a fraction of the tourists that flock to Capri, resulting in quieter shorelines and more affordable eateries.
Having seen numerous invasions due to its strategic location, Ischia boasts a number of ruinous towers, outposts and rock shelters. Built in 474 BC, the Aragonese Castle was constructed upon a huge rock by Hiero I of Syracuse, and is now the most visited site on Ischia. The fortress is accessed through a long tunnel with large openings, hiding a small chapel inside dedicated to the patron saint of the island, which is not to be missed. Ischia was also an important stop on the trade route from Greece to northern Italy in the 8th century.
For views over the island, the Gardens of La Mortella and Villa Ravino provide the perfect setting. The latter of which was recently noted as the most eco-friendly property in southern Italy by the European Parliamentary Observatory, featuring a botanical garden and one of the richest collections of cacti and succulents, known as water-storage plants, grown in Europe.
Contrasting in atmosphere, the north coastal towns of Casamicciola Terme, Forio and Ischia Porto are frantic, boasting lively bars and excellent restaurants, while the south, devoid of cars and traffic, is filled with dense chestnut forests with the highest peak, Monte Epomeo, looming on the horizon. However, each town shares common ground over the local cuisine, serving up exquisite seafood, farm-bred rabbit dishes and liquorice flavoured liqueur.
Standing in the northwest corner of the Bay of Naples, Ischia is well linked by ferry from the Sorrentine Peninsula, the port of Pozzuoli, the city of Naples and the surrounding islands. Arriving in Ischia Porto, on the north coast, a choice of ferry companies complete the scenic journeys multiple times a week, with average sailing times lasting from 30 – 90 minutes, depending on your point of departure.