Luxury Link's Guide to Ischia
by Paolo Vinci
Luxury Link Account Manager &
Resident Italy Expert
The Italian island of Ischia located in the Tyrrhenian Sea is a gem that any traveler with even a moderate sense of adventure should not miss. In addition, thermal spa aficionados should definitely plan a trip; the island’s natural volcanic activity create thermal hot springs, which combined with volcanic mud treatments make for a wonderful spa experience.
I recommend reaching Ischia by ferry from Naples. Rest assured that the discomfort of a rather shabby ferry service will be compensated by a 90-minute feast for the eyes as you navigate through the beautiful Pozzuoli “archipelago” located at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples.
Once on the island, you will be bewildered by the controlled chaos of motorcycles and lorry traffic, but if you resist this first impression you will be amply compensated by the discovery of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Mediterranean.
The joy of discovery is endless. You find secluded bays with crystal-clear water – perhaps still protected by mythical Roman gods – surrounded by luxuriant subtropical and Mediterranean vegetation. Remains of many civilizations including Greek, Etruscan and Phoenician that thrived on the island are scattered everywhere but the most dramatic island landmark is the famous garden “La Mortella”. It will not be easy to find it, but please do not give up!
La Mortella is a beautiful garden created by Susana, the Argentinean wife of the British classical composer William Walton who lived on the island from 1949 until his death in 1983. If you are determined enough, eventually you will find it and once you pass the magical gate before your eyes will be one of the world’s most verdant and peaceful gardens enhanced by wonderful views of the city and harbor of Forio. For me, it’s one of the most magical experiences in all of Italy.
Your first logical response is almost certainly “Ischia sounds incredible…what hotel should I stay at?” Fortunately Luxury Link has three top-flight properties on the island that each coexist beautifully with their surroundings.
Perhaps the most dramatically-situated is Mezzatorre Resort, a member of the LeadingHotels of the World. Designed around a 16th century tower and perched atop a promontory, the hotel is nestled on seven hectares dappled with pine and oak. Guestrooms are intimate, romantic and all boast sweeping views, in addition to luxuries like hydromassage bathtubs.
Remember earlier when I mentioned Ischia is a haven for spa lovers? Mezzatorre has you well-catered-to in its Health and Beauty Center, where you can relax in the on-site thermal baths.
Also enjoying a panoramic perch on Ischia’s northern coast – near the town of Cassamiacciola Terme – is Albergo San Montano. Naples, Mount Vesuvius and the Sorrento Peninsula sprawl out before you on the mainland as you unwind by the saltwater pool, dine al fresco at Bouganvillea or simply stroll the resort’s verdant grounds. San Montano also enjoys a private beach, accessible via a convenient shuttle service.
As a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, first-class service and amenities are found throughout. Luxury Link puts you in a split-level suite, complete with the requisite Mediterranean view balcony or terrace. This is another “must-visit” spot for spa lovers, as the thermal waters where San Montano now stands have been used for theraputic purposes since the Roman Empire!
Completing our trifecta of luxurious Ischian retreats is Terme Manzi Hotel & Spa, occupying a historic 19th century pensione in the hills above Cassamiacciola Terme. This is the resort for foodies, as Terme Manzi boasts a pair of fabulous restaurants including Il Mosaico, proud owner of two Michelin stars. It specializes in regional fare and classic Italian cuisine, while Gli Ulivi is the place for more casual dishes like wood-fired pizza.
The refined guestrooms are bathed in soothing earth tones, while the spacious, 1,600 square meter Manzi Thermal Spa utilizes both hydrotherapy and Asian traditions in its treatments. The hotel also encourages guests to get out and explore this enchanting island, arranging diving, hiking and horseback excursions, plus museum visits and other tours.
However you choose to spend your time on Ischia, you’re sure to return refreshed, enriched and grateful that you discovered this incredible Italian gem in the Mediterranean!
Do you have questions for Paolo about Ischia? Post them in the comments section below and he'll do his best to answer them...