Italian thermal island Ischia - Some Like It HotWritten byRenata Jirasova31 Oct. 2016
Foggy and dark autumn with its shorter days, which look too depressive to me, is again here. When I say „here“ I mean the Central Europe, where I live. Every October I am thinking where to escape from this incoming grey atmosphere at least for a few days. What about Italian Ischia? Yes, the volcanic island Ischia with its uncountable hot thermal mineral baths is a fantastic idea!
Located in the middle of the Gulf of Naples, about 30 km (19 miles) from the Italian mainland, there is a huge rock, whose highest point Mount Epomeo reaches up to almost 800 meters. It is the island of Ischia. It measures approx. 10 km (6 miles) east to west and 7 km (4 miles) north to south.
Hundreds of natural warm mineral springs, which bubble up from the land and the sea all the year long, are due to the volcanic origin of the island. Hot sands and warm steams, which in many places look like natural saunas, are contributing to the impression that the island was created only to be a natural, incredible and huge spa. Medicinal and relaxing effects of the local thermal waters were already known by the Romans. In addition, and because of the all year long mild climate, Ischia enjoys a fascinating subtropical vegetation. You will be amazed by the view of giant cactuses and other many tropical plants, usually growing in extensive gardens of some hotels (e.g. in the hotel terme Mediterraneo), but you will find all of them in the island´s botanical gardens which I suggest you to visit.The fascinating cactuses at the swimming pool area in the Park hotel Therme Mediterraneo**** (located in Panza, near Poseidon´s Thermal Park)
When you stay in the Park hotel Therme Mediterraneo you don´t need to visit any other botanical garden because you will stay in a fantastic one!
When to go to Ischia
Definitely do not go to Ischia in August when almost all Italy is on “mandatory holiday”, everywhere is crowded and prices rise sharply. The best period for going there is spring or autumn. In winter it is quite cold (especially for Italian standards :-)), about +10 °C, but if you are satisfied only by the indoor thermal pools and saunas, it isn´t bad to go there also in this period.
How to get to Ischia
There is no airport in Ischia. The fastest way how to get the island is to fly to Naples and then go by ferry. The journey by ferry takes about 1-1,5 hours. Tickets you can buy on-line at the company Caremar or Medmar Group.The map of Ischia with the most interesting places
Places value to visit
- Thermal parks
- Aragonese Castle
- Botanical gardens (Gardini La Mortella and Villa Ravino)
- Lacco Ameno with the special rock called Il Funghi (mushroom),
- Sant'Angelo cape
- The peak of the Monte Epomeo (789 m high)
- Church S. Maria of Soccorso
One of the most picturesque places of Ischia - S. Angelo cape. In the background you can see the peak of Monte Epomeo. The beach is covered by dark, volcanic sand. The water is shallow in the bay but there are unpleasant huge stones inside the sea.
The Best Thermal Parks
Poseidon´s Gardens (Gardini di Poseidon)
Located in the Citara bay, Poseidon´s gardens - the biggest and one of the most beautiful spa complex in Ischia - offers 25 swimming pools with mineral water of varying composition and temperature, with salty and fresh water, and also a private beach. The admission fee is quite high – 30 EUR/1 person.The impressive view on the pools and private beach from the top of Poseidon´s gardens.
In the Poseidons´s gardens - a sauna inside the rocks and pools with cold water used after sauna.
Negombo Thermal Gardens
Located in the beautiful corner of Ischia known as San Montano Bay in village Lacco Ameno, in Negombo park you will find 12 different types of swimming pools and baths, each heated to a different temperature (from 24° to 36° Celcius), Japanese Labyrinth Bath where you walk through two channels (one of 18° and one of 38° Celcius) and private beach of impressive San Montano bay with sunbeds and umbrellas are available.The relaxing day in the Negombo Thermal Park
The showers with mineral water in Negombo Thermal Park The private beach in Negombo park, San Montano bay
Sorgeto bay - natural thermal spa in the sea
The temperature of the thermal springs can reach +90 °C, when the springs are going from and through the rocks close to the sea. Then hot water goes directly into the "cold sea". The result is a constant and significant flow of warm or hot water. There are several natural sitting bath tubes created from hot stones (their temperature depends how far they are from the spring) in the beach. Be careful - stones can be hot, slippery and you can even find a lot of crabs under stones (it depends on season). But anyway, even without crabs, the effect of the combination of the sea water with the thermal springs is incredible. It is an amazing experience!
Sorgeto is located near the village Panza on the south of Ischia. If you want to avoid a long way down (about 200-300 steps) from the parking place, you can go there by taxi boat from S. Angelo.The steep and long staircase from a parking place to the Sorgeto bay
A relaxing time in one of the sitting bath tubes created from warm stones in the Sorgeto bay
Other Must-See places
Aragonese Castle (Castello Aragonese)
The medieval Aragonese Castle (built in 474 BC) is the most magnificent historical monument in Ischia. It is located on a volcanic rocky islet and is connected with Ischia by a stony bridge (ponte Aragonese). Alfonso V of Aragon fortified the walls as a defence against invasion of pirates. There are two ways how to enter to the castle. Either through a tunnel where is a small chapel consecrated to John Joseph of the Cross (San Giovan Giuseppe della Croce), the patron saint of the island, or with a modern lift.The majestic historical monument in Ischia - the Aragonese Castle
In the Aragonese Castle
Inside the Aragonese Castle
Hiking up on the peak of Monte Epomeo (789 m) is a somewhat demanding but marvelous trip! The shortest way to get there is by car to the village Serrara Fontana and then continue up by car (about 1,5 km) to the via Epomeo. At the end of the road there is a parking place (and two restaurants with souvenirs). From this place you still need to walk up about 1,5 km through wild forest and dry gutter. In some places the trail turns into a real canyon with almost vertical walls.
But when you reach the top you will be awarded by a very special breathtaking view (and also there is a pub offering beverage :-)), since the top of the Monte Epomeo is not typical. It is actually a volcanic reef, part of the crater edge.
The trail to the peak of Monte Epomeo through the dry gutter in wild forest.
In some places the trail turns into a real canyon with almost vertical walls.
On the top of the Monte Epomeo (789 m).
The "Fungo" (mushroom rock) in Lacco Ameno
10 meters tall, the tufo rock "Il Fungo" (mushroom) is located in a small town of Ischia – Lacco Ameno. The present shape was created through centuries of sea erosion as the waters lapped against the lower portion of the spire, but never reaching the top.
The strangely formed rock called Il Funghi (mushroom) rising from the sea in Lacco Ameno
The church S. Maria of Soccorso (Chiesa di S. Maria del Soccorso)
Do you remember the old famous American/Italian comedy film „Avanti!“ from 1972 (in Italy known under the name „Che cosa è successo tra mio padre e tua madre?“) with the popular actors Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills? If so, then you have seen this small, lovely church in that movie :-).
Situated in the town of Forio, in a spectacular position on a promontory overlooking the sea, the Church S. Maria of Soccorso is a unique example of Ischia´s architecture. Its history dates back to its foundation in 1350, as an Augustinian Monastery and you can find there many architectural styles.The lovely church S. Maria of Soccorso is located in an impressive position in the town of Forio. Well-known from the comedy "Avanti!" (filmed in 1972).
The interior of the church S. Maria of Soccorso, the town of Forio, Ischia
- Botanical Garden La Mortella (Giardini La Mortella)
Located in the town of Forio, a private extensive garden with tropical plants was created by Susana Walton in 1950 (a wife of the composer William Walton) but first opened to the public in 1992.
The garden includes a museum dedicated to the life and work of William Walton and a Greek Theatre where Italian and foreign schools of music regularly perform concerts. In 2004 the garden was awarded First Prize as „il più bel parco d’Italia“ (the most beautiful park in Italy) by the American company Briggs & Stratton, against competition from 100 other gardens.In the botanical garden Giardini La Mortella
The concert in Teatro Greco, in Giardini La Mortella
In the Giardini La Mortella
The romantic concert in the botanical garden La Mortella