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Ischia: Italy's Thermal Spa Island Overshadowed by Capri

submitted on 26 December 2023 by

A Tale of Two Islands

If Capri is the dazzling, sun-kissed, A-list celebrity of Italy's islands, then Ischia is its quirky, eccentric, and utterly enchanting cousin who hides in the shadows. But, my friends, it's time for Ischia to step out of Capri's shadow and claim its rightful place in the spotlight. With its incomparable thermal spas, picturesque villages, and verdant landscapes, Ischia is the true star of the show.

The Island That Time Forgot

Picture this: an ancient volcanic island, nestled in the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, where time seems to have stood still for centuries. This is Ischia, the largest of the Phlegraean islands, and home to a rich history dating back to the Neolithic age. Here, you'll find the crumbling remains of a medieval castle, perched atop a rocky outcrop; tiny fishing villages, where the locals still speak in their native dialect; and lush forests, filled with the sounds of birdsong and the scent of wildflowers. But it's not all history and natural beauty on Ischia. Oh no, this is an island that knows how to have fun. From lively beachside restaurants, serving up the freshest seafood and sun-kissed wines, to bustling markets, where you can haggle for the finest Italian leather goods, Ischia is bursting with life and energy.

Thermal Spa Heaven

Now, I know what you're thinking: "What about those thermal spas, Tom? You promised us thermal spas!" Well, my friends, I won't disappoint you. You see, Ischia sits atop a veritable treasure trove of thermal waters, heated by the island's volcanic activity and bursting with restorative minerals. Ah, the spas. The glorious spas of Ischia, where you can soak away your troubles in steaming pools of mineral-rich water, surrounded by lush, tropical gardens. The healing properties of these waters have been known for centuries, and people from all over the world flock to Ischia to experience their rejuvenating effects. But perhaps the most famous of all Ischia's spas is the Poseidon Gardens, a sprawling, Eden-like complex of thermal pools, saunas, and steam caves, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Here, you can indulge in a mud bath, smearing the warm, volcanic goo all over your body like a hedonistic hippopotamus, before submerging yourself in a pool of steaming water, feeling your sins – and your wrinkles – melt away.

A Foodie's Paradise

Of course, it wouldn't be Italy without some seriously good food, and Ischia does not disappoint on this front. The island is famous for its rabbit dishes – so much so that there's even a local saying: "You haven't been to Ischia if you haven't eaten rabbit." I must admit, I've never been a fan of the furry little creatures on my plate, but when in Ischia, you simply must do as the Ischians do. But fear not, my fellow herbivores, for there are plenty of vegetarian delights to be found on Ischia, too. The island's fertile soil produces an abundance of fresh, flavorful produce, which you'll find in everything from the delicate, hand-rolled pasta dishes to the hearty, vegetable-laden soups. And then there's the wine. Oh, the wine! Ischia's volcanic soil makes for some truly spectacular vintages, with the local Biancolella grape producing a crisp, refreshing white that is simply divine when enjoyed al fresco, with the sun setting over the sparkling sea. Salute!

Practical Advice: Getting There & Around

So, how does one go about reaching this mystical island of thermal spas and rabbit feasts? Well, it's easier than you might think. You can fly into Naples, the nearest major city, and then hop on a ferry for a short, scenic ride across the Gulf of Naples to Ischia. Once you're on the island, you have a few options for getting around. There's a reliable bus system that connects all the major towns and attractions, but for a truly authentic Ischia experience, I recommend renting a scooter. You can zip around the island, feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, as you take in the breathtaking views at every turn. Just watch out for the locals – they drive like maniacs!

The Final Word

My friends, it's time to step out of the shadows and embrace the eccentric, enchanting beauty of Ischia. Forget Capri and its glitz and glamour – the real magic lies in the thermal pools and rabbit-filled hills of this forgotten island paradise. So go on, dive in – the water's warm, I promise!
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