As promised, now the second of three parts of our road trip. In this post I will tell you about our week in Ischia, a small island of Naples. First of all, we drove from Veroli to Pozzuoli. Pozzuoli is a small port town near Naples. It’s nothing special, but it is closer to Ischia and it is also much more comfortable to take the ferry from Pozzuoli compared to Naples, where there is always a lot of traffic. If you ever want to go to Ischia, I strongly recommend to take the ferry from Pozzuoli. Believe me, you do not want to drive through Naples by car. I remember that it rained the whole day, but just as we were on the ferry to Ischia, it suddenly stopped. Since it was still cold outside and very windy, we decided to put on our rain jackets and to sit outside, so we could enjoy the sea breeze and the view on the nearby islands during the whole ride. After about an hour, we arrived in the port of Ischia Porto and suddenly I felt at home. You have to know that my family and I used to travel to Ischia almost every spring break for about 20 years. The last time was about three years ago and I noticed immediately that I had missed Ischia. During our stay in Ischia, we stayed at the Residence Quattro Venti in Ischia Porto (highly recommended as it is located at the seafront, yet very close to the busy main street, Via Roma.) The owner Maurizio Biondi is a great guy and always willing to help with problems. Since it was already about five o’clock in the afternoon when we arrived, we didn’t do much the rest of the day. In the evening we walked along the main street Via Roma and since we were all exhausted, we decided to cook in the appartement. Since I was not in the mood of cooking, I planned our first day in Ischia, while Fredrik and Michel were cooking. I remember very well that Michel said he never had to cry when cutting an onion. However, things turned out differently and Fredrik and I had a great time.
On the second day we got up about 10 clock, had breakfast and got ready to laze on the beach. I’ll tell you straight away: The beach of Ischia is nothing special. But I love to just hang out on the beach, to enjoy the sun, to listen to music and sometimes just to look after a beautiful woman (of course very discreet). So the three of us, we were at the beach all morning lazing or playing in the water with a ball. Oh I almost forgot to mention that, since almost the whole beach is private, you probably won’t get a good spot on the beach, unless you pay for a beach chair. I think that’s almost everywhere the case in Italy. In the late afternoon we showered and got dressed to explore the city and look for a restaurant. Perhaps I should mention – to make sure there are no misunderstandings – both the island and the main town are called Ischia. The city of Ischia is divided into 2 parts, the new part and the old town. The city Ischia actually has only one main road and many small side streets. On the main street you can find all sorts of shops, from small grocery stores to expensive clothing stores. However, if you look for a good restaurant, I recommend to look at the harbor, on the Riva Destra, since there are the best restaurants. My favorite restaurant was “Da Gennaro”. Unfortunately, the former owner, whom I have known in person for a long time, has retired. So we walked along the harbor for a while and looked at the different restaurants. Over and over again we were asked by the waiters in poor English or German to stay. They were so intrusive and aggressive that we started to feel uncomfortable. So we soon started considering a plan to stop being asked. Our plan was to say that we are Norwegians or Swedes (Fredrik is half Swede) and to pretend we are not able to speak English. However, we rejected this plan, because the northerners usually have a very good English. We finally dined in a pizzeria and I was really satisfied. Finally, a real napoletan pizza after so much time.
On the second day we went to the thermal baths. You must know that Ischia is famous for its thermal baths. These are mostly large, park-like grounds with many different pools and a beautiful beach. The thermal baths are very expensive, but sometimes you have to treat yourself. We lounged all day in the thermal baths and from time to time I got upset about the little kids (I think for the first time I felt really old). The atmosphere was great. It was mostly very quiet and there were not many people. But the best thing was that you could really relax and you were not disturbed. However, I missed my girlfriend when I saw all the couples. These thermal baths are ideal for couples and if you just want to enjoy the peace. On request I can tell you the best spots to visit.
On the third day we decided to visit the old town of Ischia Ponte. The old town is actually again only a main street with many small restaurants and many small side streets. The old town can be reached by following the main street from the new town. However, the main road is rather unspectacular at the end, so we decided to walk along the beach on the Spiaggia dei Pescatori. From there you can already see the Castello Aragonese, our main destination for this day. The old town is really nothing special, on the other hand you should have seen it at least once, if you are in Ischia. When we were finally in front of the Castello Aragonese, we discussed whether we should go in, because you had to pay admission fees. I was rather against it, since I already knew it and also Michel did not really want to pay for the entrance. Since we were in the majority, we looked at the castle only from the outside and took a few pictures of it. But who likes the medieval stuff, should visit the castle, I do not want to spoil you anymore. On the way back we walked through a small park that ends just in front of the new town. I think the park is nothing special. Finally, we had a rest in the Dolce Sosta a nice bar that made great ice cream, cocktails, fruit juices and typical Napolean sweet pastries. If you are in Ischia and have not ordered anything there, you have never really been to Ischia.
The rest of the day we spent lazy on the beach. The following day, my personal highlight of our trip came. We took the ferry back to Pozzuoli to meet my mother’s cousin. He had promised us that he would take us on his yacht and show us the Gulf of Naples. So from there we took the yacht south to the Amalfi Coast and later we drove to the nearby island Procida to swim there in a quiet bay. As my mother’s cousin often goes out with his yacht, he also knows good places to swim or fishing. As I told you before, this was the highlight of our trip. Fredi and Michel if you read this, write down what was your personal highlight of our trip.
The next day was a quiet day for me as Fredi and Michel drove to Naples to visit Pompeii. Since I had been there several times and it also rained heavily, I decided to stay at home and look through all the pictures of our trip and delete the bad ones. I really enjoyed being alone for a day and doing nothing. Anyway, I can tell you, if you do not know Pompeii yet, go there and look at it or if you are lazy, just use your free time to reflect on your journey. The next day we did an island roundtrip by car, so that Michel and Fredi could see more of Ischia. And since you can drive around the island in one to two hours by car, it is very well suited for a day trip. First we drove to Casamicciola Terme to look for a “special” shop, but I better not go into it now. Finally after 20-30 minutes searching we found it but unfortunately it was closed. The next stage was Lacco Ameno, the only thing worth seeing there was actually only “Il Fungo”, a special rock formation who looks like a mushroom (see picture).
Next we went to Sant’Angelo the “most beautiful” part of Ischia, even if I find Ischia (the city) much nicer. There we decided to drink something because we were thirsty and so we sat down in a small cafe near the sea. I think it is really a nice village, but there’s nothing to do, so after 1-2 photos and a soft drink, we went back on the road.
Although I now realize during writing that we have omitted the Lido dei Maronti for unexplainable reasons. You must know the Lido dei Maronti is a very special beach to visit. On the west side of the Spiaggia dei Maronti, in the direction of Sant’Angelo, you can see that Ischia is a volcanic island. The fumaroles warm the sand. The sand can get so warm that you can cook a fried egg there too. The Lido dei Maronti is a must. If we really skipped that, I have to apologize to you (Fredi & Michel) for being such a bad tourist guide. Otherwise we will have to visit it an other time. In the afternoon we had to pack, because we had to take the ferry back to Pozzuoli the next day. In the evening, of course, we went eating out again and to say goodbye to our stay in Ischia. Next month I will tell you about our return journey to Zurich. In the picture gallery you can see now all photos from the road trip, even those that were not in this post, in the form of a slide show. So stay tuned!