(CNN) – A quiet, idyllic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ischia offers a touching dose of Italian beauty, spirit and hospitality, with a generous splash of nostalgia for the Italy of yesteryear.
Here, five-star hotels and luxurious thermal springs coexist with scenes of Italian grandmothers hanging laundry, religious street parades, and children strapped to the backs of adults zipping by on Vespas.
Its pristine beaches have long been popular with Italians, but foreign visitors are more likely to be drawn to the glittering shores of nearby Capri or the Amalfi Coast.
However, Ischia still has something that its more sophisticated neighbors may lack. You don’t have to dig deep here to find the real Italy. Ischia is a little less man-made, a little more eye-catching and ultimately more authentic.
And now, finally, the moment has come.
The emergence of what the Italians call the “green island” went something like this. Firstly, its famous tufa cliffs, narrow streets and landscapes entwined with bougainvillea became one of the backdrops for Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, world bestsellers that became popular TV shows.
Investment and the promise of more followed when luxury hotel group Pellicano Hotels acquired the five-star Mezzatorre Hotel and Spa on the island.
And finally new Ischia more A campaign run by a community of local hotels and businesses that aim to revive the island’s fortunes after two difficult years for tourism.
Michele Sambaldi, Group President and Managing Director of Pellicano, says he wants to position Ischia as one of Italy’s most prestigious destinations, attracting and retaining an international elite.
This is what the island offers all year round.
Sunsets, views and thermal waters
The beauty of Ischia is that the landscape and traditions change from city to city, so every time you visit you can have a new experience.
Ischia Porto is a bustling and commercial hub, while nearby Ischia Ponte has an Old World feel to it.
Casamicciola Terme is on the north coast and has the highest concentration of thermal springs, while Barano di Ischia is best known for the Maronti beach, the largest on the island.
Lacco Ameno with its beautiful harbor and Forio with its picturesque old town are perhaps the two most charming towns.
This symbol of Ischia was a royal residence and, during the Renaissance, a beehive for artists and writers.
After a tour of the halls and gardens, you can relax in the Café Terrazzo overlooking the Gulf of Naples.
To see more, the Madonna del Soccorso church in Forio is a stunning whitewashed hilltop with incredible sunset views.
There is no shortage of gardens and thermal parks in Ischia. The well-maintained La Mortella Botanical Gardens were created by Susana Walton, wife of the English composer William Walton, and often host events and concerts. With exotic plants, views of the bay and a zen garden, you can relax here at any time of the year.
An ice cream walk might be the best way to get to know the picturesque former fishing village of Sant’Angelo. Closed to cars, it’s a kaleidoscope of flowers, vines, and white houses, and importantly, it has some of the finest granite in Enzo’s Kiosk.
Dynamic cuisine focused on land and sea
Forio is located on the west coast of the island.
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Being so close to Naples, it’s not hard to find Neapolitan treats in Ischia, like great pizza or pasticeria service sfogliatelle (pastries stuffed with ricotta and candied orange peels) or iconic woman (a small, soft, sweet biscuit, usually soaked in rum).
Many bars and beach clubs also offer Zingara Ischitanatoasted sandwich with rustic bread, fior di latte cheese, prosciuttotomatoes, lettuce and mayonnaise – two guys are said to have created it in their pub in the 1970s, and it can be eaten all over the island to this day.
Piennolo here the most popular tomatoes are grown on rich volcanic soil, which makes them especially sweet and special. In fact, it is guaranteed that if you eat pasta al tomato around these parts, it was this variety that was used.
For hearty and rustic seasonal cuisine, head to La Vigna di Alberto In Barano. Locals flock here for no-frills dining surrounded by vineyards with a true family welcome. You will need to call ahead to order rabbit but there is plenty more to choose from between pasta, seafood and meat. Impress the locals at the end of your meal by asking pipernainfused with thyme and local herbs amaro digestif.
Ischia Ponte is home to charming narrow streets and is topped by the Aragonese Castle.
Tomasz Czajkowski/Adobe Stock
The game of luxury five-star hotels in Ischia is strong. The offer ranges from classic to chic and modern design. Most hotels have natural thermal waters, as well as day spas and natural pools.
In Ischia, this can be one of the many things that will capture your heart: an unforgettable meal, a breathtaking sunset view, mesmerizing panoramas, or the mesmerizing blue and green waters. This magnetic island can charm you. And one thing is certain. It’s not just a moment. Ischia is the real deal and is here to stay.