Campania Europe Ischia Italy

Early April on Isola d’Ischia

After a bumpy, windy and rainy ferry ride across from Napoli, we arrived on the Isola of Ischia for a stormy weekend. Fortunately neither of us (to date anyway) are affected by sea sickness. I can’t say that for all of our compatriots in carriage which made for a somewhat unpleasant crossing.

The main port of Ischia

Our accommodations were across the island and our hotel had told us not to let the taxi drivers charge more than €40 for a ride, so with this helpful information and broken Italian we procured a ride for that exact price. Off we went, whipping around the winding curves and up the hills from the port to the other side of little Ischia until… our cab was cut off by a young blonde girl driving a tiny Smart (a car) which barely broke 15kph (10mph) and was going to Forio where our hotel sits on the outskirts so needless to say all were pleased when she peeled off our route.

We wandered into the nearby village to procure supplies (wine) and returned to the hotel just as the skies really opened up and a light rain transformed into a downpour. Thunderstorm passing overhead. After about 30 minutes with spitting showers still threatening, I headed up the tiny winding road for Santa Maria al Monte a tiny little village set above, well, just about everything. It was just me, all of the neighborhood dogs (some of whom were in yipping and nipping slow chase mode), the tiny pickup trucks and a few locals who looked at me quizzically but not threateningly. The road opened into some pretty marvelous views of the town of Forio and the Mediterranean below and changed from barely one lane to moped width to dirt path. The road to Santa Maria is not made for appliance delivery. From her resting place, this tiny village has a church, many wayside shrines and not much else. The rain and wind was returning so I made my visit brief hoping thunder wasn’t coming with them. Back down the road, past the same dogs I ran into rush hour behind a herd of goats, a goat herder and three sheepdogs. Together, we passed back down the winding road until I left them still hearing the goat herder’s calls and yells and the goat bleats in response.

On our only (sadly) full day in Ischia we braved the intermittent rain showers, wind and hail and (very) occasional sunshine, like a couple of postal workers, to explore Forio and its surrounds. We visited the beautiful botanical garden of Giardini La Mortella and walked along the coastline, waiting out hail storms under a bridge and in a mechanic’s garage to town for lunch at La Bella Napoli.

We stayed at hillside La Tenuta del Poggio Antico with its helpful staff, led by Francesco, it’s little blue van which delivers you to town and back, lovely breakfast and gorgeous views. Down the street (if you’d call it that: it’s narrow and winding more akin to an alley) is the best restaurant on the hill Ristorante Montecorvo. Molto bene!

We were a bit early in our visit to Ischia. It was still very much off-season and the cold, wet weather dampened much outdoor exploring but we really enjoyed our brief stay. Travelers tip: you can catch a ferry directly to Forio from Naples so if you’re on this side of the island that is better. Also, there are a couple of terminals out of Naples so you can book ferries on multiple companies if you’re ferry hopping (as we were) from Ischia to Capri (via Naples). In the season, you can go directly from Ischia to Capri, but we were too early for such convenience.

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