Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Italy! Ischia!

Ischia is the largest island in the Bay of Naples. An extinct volcano, Ischia's craggy mountain slopes are covered with pine and chestnut forests, and fragrant Mediterranean scrub. This lush vegetation has earned it the name the 'green isle', and it was used for some scenes in the film The Talented Mr Ripley. The island's main town is Ischia on the east coast: divided into Ischia Porto, the ferry port, and Ischia Ponte, the quieter historic heart. The liveliest resort is Forio in the west. With an abundance of thermal springs, a legacy of its volcanic origins, Ischia has long been famed as a health resort and now the island's main attraction is its many spas. Ischia has plenty of golden, sandy beaches and 23 miles of coastline to explore. The best are around the resort of Forio: Citara, to the south, reached by a longish walk along Via G Mazzella, and Chiaia, just a short walk to the north. Further away is San Montano Bay, a strikingly unspoilt bay. Beaches closest to Ischia Porto are the Spiaggia degli Inglese and Spiaggia San Pietro. The island's main historic attraction is the Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle perched on an islet. It's close to Ischia Ponte and reached by a causeway. Forio has a pleasant historic centre and is close to the lush gardens of La Mortella (Via F Calise), created by the widow of the composer William Walton. Energetic visitors can take a bus to Montana, from where it is possible to walk up Monte Epomeo - the island's extinct volcano.


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