This Italian Island Has the Glamour of Capri Without the Crowds
For decades, Capri has been a prime destination for the international jet set. If you’re dreaming of a glamorous seaside escape, its larger counterpart Ischia, just across the bay of Naples, is coming into the international spotlight. Now is the perfect time to head to Ischia and discover the magic that Europeans on holiday have been keeping to themselves all this time.
Ischia is a volcanic island famous for its thermal hot springs, rugged mountainous terrain, and affordable food and wine. Its rugged coastline is dotted with small towns and sandy beaches, and it’s nearly five times larger than Capri, so despite its much larger population, it never feels crowded. Historically, Ischia has been a favorite of German, Italian, and British vacationers; most Americans have never even heard of it.
We revisited our favorite southern Italian island this summer, and it’s now easier than ever to experience this la dolce vita on Ischia via United Airlines’ new seasonal nonstop flight from New York to Naples with service until Oct. 26, 2019. On landing in Naples, paradise is just a 20-minute taxi and short hydrofoil ride away.
Where to Stay
There’s a hotel or vacation rental at every price point all over the island, but we recommend staying near Lacco Ameno, where you’ll find some of the best resorts on the island, along with easy access to shopping, restaurants, spas, and the beach at San Montano bay.
The Mezzatorre Hotel and Thermal Spa reopened this year after being taken over by the glamourous Il Pellicano hotel group. It’s long been one of the nicer properties on the island, but was in serious need of a facelift before Marie Louise Scio purchased the property and, as she says, gave it some “fairy dust.” The hotel is centered around an ancient watchtower on a cliff on the northwest corner of Ischia, and the reopening under Il Pellicano’s ownership has already attracted a surge of guests from the celebrity and fashion crowd. An indoor thermal spa, seawater pool, and direct access to swimming in their private cove, as well as world-class dining, make this a resort you’ll never want to leave. When you finally have to, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to bring home pieces of the experience with you (we suggest a set of the Venetian glassware, available at various dealers online, and a pair of Marie Louise’s stylish Il Dolce Far Niente Birkenstocks).
Across the bay and up the hill, San Montano Resort & Spa features ten pools perched high above the Mediterranean Sea, overlooking the city of Lacco Ameno, the San Montano beach, and the Mezzatorre Hotel. The decor combines Hermes wallpaper, local ceramics with a nautical vibe, and the large staff ensures impeccable service at every turn. The hotel offers a shuttle down to the Lacco Ameno town square, but with multiple restaurants, a sunset bar with live piano music, and pizza by the pool for lunch — why leave? For an extra special experience, book a suite which includes private access to the infinity pool exclusively reserved for these rooms.
What To Do
Ischia is a volcano, so you’ll find thermal springs around the island. If your hotel does not have its own thermal spa, you can experience the famed thermal waters at one of the island’s parks. Nitrodi is the oldest spa in the world, famous for its healing waters. Even locals visit often to collect the water in a bottle to heal and rejuvenate their skin. For a larger park, visit Poseidon Gardens or Negombo which both include multiple pools at various temperatures and beach access.
One of the most beautiful cities on the island, this dramatic town is accessible only by foot. Stroll its quaint streets and picturesque harbor, then stopping at Il Pirata for lunch, which Missoni’s creative director Angela Missoni personally recommended.
Mennella Ceramics, Casamicciola
Head to Mennella Ceramics and bring home a piece from this 500-year old ceramic shop.
Where to Eat
This bar has three locations for amazing pastries, coffee, or a cocktail to cool off after walking in the hot Mediterranean sun.
This two-Michelin starred restaurant is a must. The food is perfection and the service is unpretentious and fun. While pricey, you'll leave this fine dining experience knowing it was worth the high price.
This no-frills restaurant offers some of the best seafood around. Try the mixed fried fish.
Ristorante Bar da Coco'
Set under the island’s famed Castello Aragonese d'Ischia in Ischia Ponte, this restaurant offers stunning views and some of the freshest fish around. Ask for the fresh fish of the day and they will suggest the best preparation for your selection.
La Torre Restaurant
The fine dining restaurant at the Mezzatorre Hotel offers hotel food you’ll gladly eat multiple days in a row. Don’t miss the octopus ragu.