In the first honeymoon recap, I told you about our time in Napoli, which we loved! Today, I’m talking about the second part of our trip spent on an island off the coast of Napoli called Ischia. Ischia was not a place I had ever heard of, nor had most people when I mentioned it to them, but it came highly recommended to us by RM’s sister and her fiance so I had a feeling it would be great. And within 5 minutes on the island, we realized that great didn’t even begin to describe it.
We were able to get to Ischia from Napoli by a short hydrofoil (ferry) ride- about an hour-hour and a half, I think (I slept the whole way so I don’t remember ;)). There are many different parts of the island that you an stay on, but we opted for Ischia Ponte, which was a short drive from Ischia Porto where the boats come in, because of the better hotel options (more on that below).
What we loved the most about the island was how un-Americanized it was. There were very few other American tourists on the island, and most of the tourists were Italians themselves, so RM’s ability to speak and communicate in Italian was a huge help! We also loved the vibe of the island- it was small and very friendly and we constantly felt like we were able to immerse ourselves right into their culture and lifestyle. The island also had a lot to offer, so we found ourselves running out of time to do everything we wanted to do, even with spending 4 nights there!
Lastly, before I get into the details, if you’re looking to get TONS of information about all things Ischia, we cannot recommend Dion, the writer behind the website Ischia Review, enough. His website has everything you’d ever need/want to know about Ischia: where to stay, what to do, hundreds of restaurant listings, connections to rent boats or cars, winery information and more. We emailed him a lot and he was always super helpful with his responses and suggestions. Without his help we wouldn’t have had the same experience that we did, so Dion, THANK YOU!!
Where we stayed:
We stayed at the stunningly beautiful Miramare e Castello hotel, which was right on the water so we had a private beach and a private pool- the best of both worlds! Walking into the hotel we were greeted by the warmest front-desk staff, who were always there for whatever we needed. Our room was also wonderful- a nice, big bed, little sitting area and an gorgeous terrace with a day bed overlooking the water, Mount Vesuvius and the castle. They had some bubbly and snacks for us upon arrival as a sweet honeymoon gesture- both things are sure ways into my heart 🙂
The hotel also had an indoor pool and a spa, both of which we did not get a chance to experience, but we were able to check out their rooftop area with a few jet tubs, day beds, etc. The views were the best part, though!
While we did not eat dinner or lunch there, the breakfast included in our stay was pretty great! They had scrambled eggs/bacon, lots of cured meats and cheeses, yogurts, fruit granola, cereal and a TON of delicious pastries. Complimentary champagne was also provided, but was not something I ended up taking advantage of.
Miramare’s sister hotel, Mareblu Terme, is right behind Miramare and guests have access to their amenities, including their thermal pool, which is a pool containing thermal water that comes naturally from the ground. On the other side of the island (Forio), all of the hotels have their own thermal spa’s.
What we ate
We ate some really amazing food while in Ischia, starting with our first lunch at a little place near the castle (side note: we never actually went in or toured the castle- oops!- but if we go back (which we really want to do!), we definitely will because it looked really cool.
- Al Pontile– We were pleasantly surprised by the food here. Sometimes restaurants near big attractions don’t have the best food, but this place did not fit that stereotype at all! We got a few different things and everything was unbelievably good. We even said that the eggplant dish might be tied with how good RM’s mother’s eggplant is, which is a pretty big deal!
- Aglio, Olio e Pomodoro– We stumbled upon this restaurant on a cute little street not far from our hotel (it’s the street that leads to the castle). It was the only rainy night we had but luckily we were able to wait for a table at a nearby shop and had a glass of wine. The food at this restaurant was really good, even though RM meant to order pasta with clams and accidentally ordered pasta with mussels haha good thing we like both of them!
- Ristorante Zi Nannina– Our hotel recommended this restaurant and while it was a bit hard to find, it was a really great dinner spot. It was right on the water and the food was incredible, as was the service. We shared a bunch of things: salad, pasta with shellfish, a seafood stew type of dish and wine. Plus, it lead us to a great strip of restaurants/nightlife/shops in Ischia Porto so that’s an extra plus.
- Ristorante Pizzeria La Terrazza– This was a cute restaurant on the second level of a building, so you had great views of the street below. We didn’t end up getting pizza here, but it did look delicious! We opted for more pasta and clams (obsessed, you could say), broccoli rabbe and homemade sausage- everything was great!
- I can’t remember the name of the last place, but it might have been Ristorante La Riva Destra or Ristorante L’Ostricaro, based on the Ischia Review page of Ischia Porto restaurants 😉 Whatever one it was, I had nice bolognese and RM had a steak.
- Gran Caffe Vittoria– we grabbed after dinner gelato’s and cafe (for RM) here a few nights. It’s hard to miss since it pretty much takes up an entire square!
I know it seems like we at a ton of pasta- which we did- but we always made sure to have at least one salad throughout the day to make sure we were getting veggies in. We also split meals so that we were not eating the full portion because that’s just not necessary to do on a daily basis! Most places would split the dish for us in the kitchen which was a nice gesture.
What to do
As I said, there was so much to do on the island! Here’s a glimpse into our trip.
- Lounged at the hotel- Most mornings we would have breakfast and then hang out on the chairs at the hotel and maybe go for a swim. It was nice to ease into this day this way.
- Go running- there was a big park that I ran through, as well as just running the streets. Italy gets going a lot later than Americans do so it generally wasn’t very busy when I would do this.
- Rent a car & tour the island- Through Ischia review, we rented the cutest (and smallest) smart car cabriolet. This was such a great idea because it allowed us to easily tour around the island. One day we headed out and made various stops along the way, including lunch in Forio, which is on the opposite side of the island and is better known for its beaches than Ischia Ponte. We didn’t think it would take that long to go all the way around the island but the road was SUPER windy and they climbed all the way up the island, which was pretty intense, so it took over an hour. The views were so beautiful, though, so it was worth it.
- Rent a boat- we rented a boat through Ischia Review, but ended up canceling it since we wanted to spend the day at Poseidon instead. However, this would’ve been a fun thing to do. They had options to drive the boat yourself or to hire a skipper for the day.
- Horseback riding- we didn’t do this, but if it’s your thing there are places to do this!
- Wine tours- There are a bunch of little, family owned & run wineries on the island and while we were there, there was an event called Andar per Cantine, which was an organized winery tour visiting 3-4 different wineries. This ended up being a really fun way to spend the afternoon because we were able to visit some cool little wineries, meet other Americans and taste great wines and locally made foods.
- Thermal Spas- Due to the nature of the island, there are lots of thermal Spas to check out. We decided to spend the day at Poseidon, which is the largest thermal spa on Ischia and has over 20 thermal pools to experience. It was 34 euros to get in, but that gives you access to the whole place for the day, including all the pools, locker rooms, restaurants, private beach and more. Because of various properties/minerals in the water (magnesium, calcium, etc.) from the volcanic hot springs, they are supposed to be therapeutic and the pools vary in temperature (from 28* celcius to 40* celcius) and salt concentration so people can pick what pools they want/need based on their bodies. We opted to do a full circuit, starting with the natural sauna, which was really awesome because it was heated naturally from the ground. It was HOT and steamy, unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in a man-made sauna. From there we did a few rotations of the sauna and a cold dip into the 15* celcius pool- which was SO COLD!!! Then, we made our way to dip in all of the other pools, finishing with the hottest and then lounging by the ocean. We had to wear swim caps because they don’t want hair clogging the drains, which was a funny look for sure. They also had natural “jet” type of setups, which were great for tired shoulders. The whole experience was SO NEAT and we would highly recommend it to anyone who goes to the island. We laughed at how organized it was since Italians don’t tend to be organized like that… and then we learned it was run by Germans, and it all made sense! Check out their site for way more information on all they have to offer, as well as more details about where the water comes from as well as it’s healing properties.
And that about does it for Ischia! As you can see, it was a pretty amazing part of the trip and we would really love to get back there some day. Next up, Sorrento!
Questions for you: Have you ever been to Ischia? Do you like spas/saunas? Do you prefer a full schedule/itinerary on vacation or do you like to plan as you go?