Much as I love Naples, I like to get away if I have a weekend free. After an intense week of working in the chaotic city, the best bet for unwinding is to head to one of the islands in the Golfo di Napoli. There is a choice between super-expensive Capri, tiny but lovely Procida (click on the names to see previous posts), or the biggest, and in my opinion best of all, Ischia.
I went for the first time in June 2015 and spent one night in Sant’ Angelo, a famous beauty spot in the south of the island. I stayed at the Hotel Terme Romantica www.hotelromantica.it, a nice spa resort just outside the town. I got a reduced rate as it wasn’t peak season yet, €77 for the night, instead of €91.
Please see the bottom of this post for a detailed description of the travel arrangements from Naples to the hotel.
Once I had been installed in my room, I went for a swim (there are thirteen pools to choose from in the complex) then hit the sun lounger, hard. What could be more relaxing than to kick back with a cold beer in front of this fantastic view?
Next a slap up meal was in order and I staggered off to the hotel restaurant, all of ten metres away. The waiters I met there were the ebullient Salvatore and the seemingly dour, but actually very nice, Enzo. We became quite good friends in the twenty five hours I spent at the hotel.
The food is fairly expensive but the quality is very good. In fact a German couple on the next table (called the ‘Capri table’ as it’s the only table with a view of Capri on a clear day, ask for it) told me they’d been coming for ten years and that, in all that time, this was the best seafood restaurant they’d been to on the island.
While I’d take that with a pinch of salt, I couldn’t fault their excellent Linguine alla Vongole (A).
Another time I started with some bruschetta and some fantastic tomatoes (A).
The following linguine with mussels and clams hit the spot again (B+).
The lemon sorbet is really good too. Lemons are everywhere here as well.
With regards to wine I stuck with what I knew; a good quality Falanghina. The waiters told me that next time I should try Biancolella di Ischia if I wanted a nice white. The red Piedirosso is also good.
One evening I took a walk down to Sant’ Angelo along the coast road.
Ischia is a volcanic island and the unusual conical hill opposite Sant’ Angelo is a lava dome; a circular mound created by the slow emission of viscous lava. I’d love to stay in the house at the top!
A sand bar has formed a double beach that connects the town to the dome.
The tiny town is lovely, and has attracted a well-heeled set. There are lots of expensive boutiques and pricey shops (€2 for a postcard!).
I walked around the whole place in about twenty minutes then sat down outside one of the bars in the square and listened to a live performance of acoustic guitar.
My Negroni was made with a kind of vermouth that I hadn’t come across before.
After that I had an ice cream and toddled back for an early night. The next day, after another swim and lounger session, I had another seafood lunch and then headed back to Naples for work the next day, ending a very short, but very sweet visit.
Next time I visit Ischia I’d really like to say longer and go trekking around the island’s fourteen volcanic craters (four large, ten small). There’s lots of nature to see and there’s also the Aragonese castle, and the wonderful ‘La Mortella’ botanical gardens that featured in Monty Don’s ‘Italian Gardens’ series on BBC2.
Or maybe I should just move there…
I prefer to catch the fast hydrofoil which takes about 60 mins and cost €21 in 2015. There are slower and cheaper ferries that cost 50% less but take 50% longer, and they leave from Mergellina which is at the far end of Chiaia. Ferry info and links here.
The pier that the fast ferries for all the islands leave from is called Molo Beverello (in front of Castello Nuevo) which is a 30 minute walk from Piazza Garibaldi (I’m guessing €20 in a taxi).
I like to catch the first hydrofoil at 07.35 so if you’re walking you need to be up at 6 and packed and out of your hotel by 06.45. It’s unlikely at that time in the morning but there might be a queue at the ticket office so it’s a good idea to give yourself some leeway. The next fast ferry is around 10.30 (2015 info).
For Sant’ Angelo, get off the ferry at Forio (the second stop on Ischia for my particular ferry) and then catch either the #1 or the CS bus to Sant’ Angelo. The bus stop is on the left hand side of the road, after the car park (coming from the ferry jetty). You can buy a bus ticket for €1.20 from the tobacconist kiosk just before the car park.
The bus will turn left and weave inland and after 20/25 minutes will terminate just before the descent into Sant’ Angelo (no cars except taxis are allowed into the town). From here you can call the hotel and ask for their shuttle bus to pick you up, or walk 100m back up the hill to the main gate and buzz the intercom to get in. After a steep but fairly short 200m climb you‘ll come to the restaurant and then the reception just beyond.