From a dis­tance, it looks like a woman ly­ing down and re­lax­ing in the sea, yet it’s the largest is­land in the Gulf of Naples, com­plete with breath­tak­ing sun­sets, beaches for all tastes, and world fa­mous hot springs

Where Naples Coast & Islands - - CONTENTS -

Not just the sea, breath­tak­ing sun­sets and hot springs, but also an in­ter­na­tional film fes­ti­val!

INaples, schia is the largest is­land in the Gulf of spread out over an area of 46 square kilo­me­ters. Di­vided into six dis­tinct dis­tricts, you can get there in less than an hour by boat from Naples. From far away, it looks just like a woman ly­ing down in the wa­ter. And there’s an un­end­ing va­ri­ety of won­der­ful sights to see. In the town of Ischia for ex­am­ple, you can visit the fa­mous Castello Aragonese, the most fa­mous of all the land­marks on the is­land. Fur­ther along, al­most plung­ing into the sea, is the fortress of Al­fonso V d’Arag­ona. Open year-round, from 9am un­til sun­set, it of­ten hosts in­ter­est­ing cul­tural events. In Fo­rio, make sure to visit the Chiesa del Soc­corso, a lovely white church over­look­ing the sea, from whose ter­race you can en­joy breath­tak­ing sun­set views. Another must-see sight in Fo­rio is La Colombaia. For­merly home to the fa­mous Ital­ian film di­rec­tor di­rec­tor Luchino Vis­conti, it is sur­rounded by the lush green wood of Zaro and is con­sid­ered one of the most beau­ti­ful vil­las on the is­land. Lo­cated just a few me­ters away is Villa La Mortella. Set within the amaz­ing gar­den cre­ated in 1956 by Lady Su­sana Walton, it boasts more than 500 Mediter­ranean and trop­i­cal plants, panoramic ter­races, foun­tains and lakes. Don’t for­get to make a quick stopover in Sant’An­gelo, the chicest location on the is­land, where you can in­dulge in an ex­cel­lent espresso, grab a slice of cake from one of the many bars near the beach, or even pur­chase some sou­venirs from one of the lo­cal ar­ti­san shops lin­ing the road. Crowded with lo­cals and tourists from morn­ing till night, one of its main at­trac­tions is its lovely, small port. If you’re the ex­cur­sion­ist type, you’ll love the hike up Monte Epomeo, the high­est point on the is­land. The top of the moun­tain, stand­ing at an al­ti­tude of 789 me­ters above sea level, can be ac­cessed in roughly one hour and a half on foot from pi­azza Ser­rara Fon­tana along a paved walk­way (ex­cept for the fi­nal stretch). On reach­ing the sum­mit, you will be re­warded by a breath­tak­ing panoramic view! One of Ischia’s hall­mark fea­tures are the bizarre, un­usual shapes of its rocks. The most fa­mous are the Mush­room of Lacco Ameno near the wa­ter, and the Lovers’ Rocks, in Fo­rio: two gi­gan­tic blocks of vol­canic rock sit­ting one right in front

of the other in the mid­dle of the sea, dream­ily gaz­ing into one another’s eyes. Leg­end has it that Ischia was cre­ated and held up by the gi­ant Tifeo: it is said that the ther­mal springs of Ischia – renowned through­out the world for their ther­a­peu­tic ben­e­fits – are the tears of the gi­ant, shed on ac­count of hav­ing to bear this heavy weight on his shoul­ders. Amongst these, par­tic­u­larly wor­thy of note are Fo­rio’s Giardini di Po­sei­don, some of the big­gest and most beau­ti­ful in Europe. Set be­tween the hills of Mon­te­vico and Zaro, be­hind the beau­ti­ful beach of San Mon­tano, the Ne­gombo Spa com­plex in Lacco Ameno is no less beau­ti­ful. The dis­trict is also renowned for its mar­velous beaches, most of which are lo­cated in the com­mune of Fo­rio. The beach of Ci­tara, shel­tered by the large promon­tory of Punta Im­per­a­tore, abounds in Mediter­ranean flow­ers, trop­i­cal vege­ta­tion and white sandy beaches. The Baia di Sorgeto is a nat­u­ral beach which you can get to by walk­ing down 200 steps: here the ther­mal springs keep the wa­ter con­stantly warm. Cava dell’Isola is the only beach in Ischia with no paid bathing fa­cil­i­ties, and for this rea­son, the young flock here. From Panza by way of a 300-me­ter steep trail or by boat or wa­ter taxi you can reach Scan­nella, the ideal beach for snor­kel­ing fans. Be­tween Fo­rio and Lacco Ameno you will find the beach of San Mon­tano: shaped like a half moon and fairly shal­low, the vege­ta­tion sur­round­ing it has a def­i­nite trop­i­cal ap­peal. The is­land's most beau­ti­ful beach is Spi­ag­gia dei Maronti, stretch­ing for about 2km east of the vil­lage of Sant'An­gelo, straight down the cliff from Barano Ischia. Sev­eral of its land­mark fea­tures in­clude hot springs and fu­maroles. While on Ischia, don’t miss the Baia di Car­taro­mana and the Spi­ag­gia degli In­glesi. The for­mer, which is only sunny in the morn­ing, boasts a seabed filled with Po­sei­do­nia, an aquatic plant par­tic­u­lar to the Mediter­ranean. The lat­ter is only ac­ces­si­ble on foot, via a small path with steps. How­ever, it is fairly iso­lated and there­fore ideal for those seek­ing pri­vacy. The Scar­ru­pata, be­tween Punta San Pan­crazio and Capo Grosso, is a nar­row, peb­bly beach where time seems to have stood still: the com­bined colours of its vege­ta­tion and sea make it a truly mag­i­cal place.

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