2005 Ischia

Tuesday 24th May

Andrew did his usual trick & gave me just a couple of days notice that we were off to Ischia. I love surprises!

I eventually went to bed at about midnight, & too excited to sleep was up again by 2.10am making coffee, we set off at 3.45am to Stansted.

Nice clear motorways, the flight took 2½ hours. We were met at Napoli airport and driven to the port, then tickets purchased, we sat looking out to sea waiting for the hydrofoil to appear.

I can’t wait to be back in Ischia to show Andrew the places that I know there, and explore the places I didn’t get to see. My last trip there was with a friend in a wheelchair, Italy is not set up for wheelchair access.

We stayed outside on the hydrofoil watching Napoli disappear and Ischia grow closer.

Docked at Ischia Porto and again were met by a taxi who drove us to Mezzatorre Resort and Spa near Lacco Amino on the other side of the island. It’s a fabulous hotel perched right on the end of the island with it’s own little jetty. We were shown our suite with it’s own terrace overlooking the sea & had a guided tour of the place.

We went down to the poolside restaurant to find some lunch accompanied by some wine and beer of course. Freshly grilled scampi and insalata Capri yummy. The pool is located right next to the sea so lovely views from there too.

Not so lovely are the mahogany old dears on parade topless by the pool.

Danger - avert eyes to keep lunch down. No, they didn’t really have a warning notice, but they should have!

After lunch we took the hotel bus down to Lacco Amino - this is the smallest town on Ischia and stretches from the coast up to Monte Epomeo.

We walked by the sea looking at Il Fungho - the giant mushroom shaped rock that is Lacco Amino’s landmark, said to have fallen from the mountains. We mooched around the shops and sat drinking wine at a little bar by the sea till it was time for dinner. La Sirenella provided us with Capri insalata, pizza & wine, again sitting by the sea and watching Lacco Amino come to life for the evening. The square is lit up with fairy lights on the trees, very pretty. Eventually we found a taxi & conceding defeat after no sleep last night, went straight to bed.

Wednesday 25th May

Overslept & almost missed breakfast, disaster averted we sat chomping our way through fresh fruit, prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella & ciabatta.

Refreshed we decided to go to Forio, about 2½ hours walk if you walk through the woods.

We got to the outskirts of the town in about 1 hour, not bad going as it was getting hot.

I “entertained” Andrew along the way singing Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out In the Midday Sun.

Andrew decided on a shortcut, designed I think to shut me up. We ended up doing almost another hour’s hard slog rock climbing in the midday sun before reaching a very nice cafe to sit down and drink water and cappuccino. I don’t think that many of their customers approach via the rocks, then scrambling up and over their balcony in an undignified heap croaking “aqua minerale gassata per favore!” However they accepted our custom gracefully. Noticed on recovery that the cafe is called Il Fortino - funny that.

We walked up into the town stopping at the lovely old white church Chiesa del Soccorso Our Lady of the Snow, which sits high out over the sea, it felt so familiar to me.

In town we found a little cafe Il Pizzeria that I used to frequent with my friend Maria and we sat down for a lunch of Capri insalata & bruschetta with the obligatory mezzo litre di vino rosso {almost everywhere on Ischia if you ask for a glass of wine you get a ½ litre jug.}

We sauntered all around Forio which is the largest town on Ischia. Bought some lovely Fanny Blu blue silk sandals for me at Mediterranea, they are very cute.

We ate at La Bussola tonight, right by the harbour. An amazing meal of seafood, insalata Capri, gnocchi, penne al pomodoro, steak and a wonderful strawberry & alcohol goo for pudding.

Casa D’ambra Per’ ‘e Palummo a local wine, molte bellissimo.

You can visit the Casa D’ambra Wine tasting and Museo it has been around since 1888. We didn’t get there, but drank a lot of their wine. Taxi back as we didn’t fancy the rock climbing again, and so to bed….

Thursday 26th May

A lazy day at the hotel today, after our breakfast on the terrace by the sea, we took a walk around the gardens, it is such a pretty place with walls of flowers lining all the different terraced areas.

Eventually we wandered down to the pool area and the pool attendant rushed over with towels and arranged them on our chosen loungers. He fetched us a thatched parasol in case we burned and was available should we need drinks etc. Andrew went for a swim in the sea, while I dozed.

We ate lunch at the poolside cafe then wandered back to our room for a siesta.

At about 6ish we were ready for a bit of exercise, so we walked into Lacco Amino for a wander and dinner. Bought some extremely comfortable blue suede sandals at Boutique Gigalo and a pair of stunning white mother of pearl earrings from La Perla Nera.

We ate at Il Delphino a fish restaurant, located right by Il Fungho. Delicious food & wine served to us by a lovely young man who spoke English and chatted to us happily as he liked to keep in practise. As we were drinking our coffee a brilliant firework display from one of the other islands took place, it was wonderful to watch them light up the sea.

Later when we walked back to the hotel our path was lit up for us by lovely little fireflies….

Friday 27th May

After breakfast we went to pick up our little Smart Cabrio that Andrew has hired for the day so that we can explore the whole island. A weenie black thing with an electric fold down roof and strangely designed front so that if you are in the passenger side you have to sit with your feet up. Easy to park though as you can drive into a small space front ways and she is the same length as other cars widths – brilliant.

Andrew drove around the entire island today, we set off towards Sant’Angelo first as that is my favourite village & I have been looking forward to showing it to Andrew.

No cars are allowed down the steep road into Sant’Angelo, so you have to park up and walk. We saw a lovely restaurant half way down the hill built into the rock.

Sant’Angelo is a fishing village and has a large harbour. Maronti beach is the largest beach on the island, some parts of it are too hot to walk on due to the many fumaroles steaming all around the area. All the villas are painted different colours, it’s just so picturesque. The harbour is full of boats, ranging from the little taxi boats through to large private yachts.

We had lunch at Dal Pescatore overlooking the harbour, excellent food.

Afterwards we went for a walk around the town and browsed in the little shops.

On our way up the hill back to the car we stopped at a little bar Pulcinella which served freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice, extremely welcome & so refreshing.

We followed the road up through the mountains and down into Ischia Porto where we sat down for a drink at Bar Coco by the Castello Aragonese an ancient 5th century castle guarding the island. We went back to the hotel for a siesta, everywhere is shut of course and it is very hot - a rest before dinner is required.

We drove back to Sant’Angelo in the evening and walked over to the other side of the harbour to Hotel Conte for a pre dinner drink, we sat watching the village twinkling by night, so pretty but very few places are open here in the evening.

So we went back to Forio to La Bussola for dinner, excellent food again, and were given a glass of the owners special home made liquor Nuttella, it’s fantastic, made of nuts but tastes like plums in brandy. Stuffed full we retired to the hotel for a nightcap on our terrace before bed.

Saturday 28th May

We were up early as Andrew has booked us a boat for the day. We were picked up by Chito at 10am from the hotel jetty and set off via Forio to meander round the island for the day. This is the best way to see the whole island as over a third has no roads so these areas are inaccessible except by sea. The views of the Green Island as Ischia was originally named are stunning.

Chito stopped the boat just outside Sant’Angelo & Andrew went for a swim, the rocks here are sharp & slippery so I opted to stay on the boat.

Andrew swam towards shore to feel the temperature rise at the he fumaroles. He cut his foot badly on the rocks and we spent some time trying to stop it bleeding.

We docked at Sant’Angelo and ate lunch at Dal Pescatore. Wandered around the shops and bought a pretty mug in the local pottery shop.

Sailed on round to Ischia Ponte, I’d forgotten quite how stunning the rocks are around the island. They change over the years too as they are volcanic, and the wind and sea erode them, plus chunks sheer off and fall into the sea.

Chito pointed out a restaurant only accessible by boat, we wished we’d known about that before we ate at Sant’Angelo.

We stopped again at Ischia Ponte and wandered up to a cafe for coffee, then back to the boat and round to the Magician’s cave with it’s lovely copper orange sea flowers which only grow in these caves. Chito gave us some of the local white wine to try, Andrew really liked it. We sailed on round the island and into another cave before eventually docking back at Mezzatorre.

We waved goodbye to Chito, who had been really informative and good company all day.

We had decided to eat at the hotel this evening as we weren’t sure when we’d be back. Unfortunately this was the least appetising meal we ate during our holiday.

Sunday 29th May

We have the car for the next two days so we drove down to Casamicciola {meaning; the little houses} as Andrew had not been there yet. Meandered around the shore & the shops and watched the little fountain in the square.

We spent the afternoon wandering around La Mortella Gardens, the classical composer William Walton’s home.

The garden they say was “wrested from a gigantic stone quarry of volcanic origin” and was designed by Russell Page “to grant solace to the composer from his exacting creative work.”

It is now home to over 800 rare and exotic plants and is a truly stunning garden.

There was a sweet little tea room with Victorian parasols to shade you, where they served English afternoons teas complete with Earl Grey, with a lovely view over the gardens.

We loved this garden and spent hours wandering around it, Andrew has taken loads of photo’s of this gorgeous place. The noisiest frogs I’ve ever heard live by the lily and lotus pond. A hot house is full of exotic plants and wonderful orchids.

The Victoria Amazonica, largest water lily in existence has it’s own huge hot house, I could describe this place for hours.

We went back to Casamicciola later and stopped at a little trattoria where I was served wine in a truly gruesome chicken jug. Put off by this and the menu in general we walked on and found an amazing restaurant behind the topless bar, had the loveliest meal & wine there.

A really wonderful day….

Monday 30th May

We relaxed after breakfast, then went into Forio for some lunch at the little pizzeria in the main street. Andrew had pudding -12 a pineapple turned into a boat with 4 different types of ice cream, sails, wafers, & a cheer leader’s tinsel pom pom!

After lunch we walked around Forio for a while then set off to the Giardini Poseidon for the afternoon. This is a health spa with 20 different pools {Thermal, Kneipp, Ocean Water etc} temperatures vary from 0C - 40C, a Roman sauna & a private beach, restaurant etc.

A really relaxing place with lovely gardens & we tried all the pools, thoroughly enjoyed our day here and wish we’d come here earlier on in the week too.

As it was our last night we decided to go back to La Bussola, an excellent meal as always & the lovely owner spent some time chatting to us as usual.

We bought a bottle of his Nuttella {not normally on sale to the public} we also had free drinks & coffee as we were leaving, such a nice man….

Tuesday 31st May

A last breakfast on the restaurant terrace, the sky is blue and the sun is shining, I want to stay.

I’d booked a facial which was wonderful, my face was glowing when the beautician had finished. Andrew went down to the pool area to relax, then we had lunch in the poolside cafe.

Afterwards we took a walk around the gardens and sat in the oversized chairs in the large terraced area. We had coffee and read our books in the sunshine till it was time to leave.

The taxi took us to Casamicciola harbour to catch the hydrofoil back to Napoli for our flight home. Another wonderful holiday, thank you my darling…..