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Introducing Ischia

The volcanic outcrop of Ischia is the most developed and largest of the islands in the Bay of Naples. It is an intriguing concoction of sprawling spa towns, buried necropolises, rheumatic Germans and spectacular scenery, with forests, vineyards and picturesque small towns. Ischia only attracts a fraction of the day trippers that head for Capri from Naples in the summer. Perhaps someone should tell them that the beaches are a lot better here.

Most visitors head straight for the north-coast towns of Ischia Porto, Ischia Ponte, Casamicciola Terme, Forio and Lacco Ameno. Of these, Ischia Porto boasts the best bars, Casamicciola the worst traffic and Ischia Ponte and Lacco Ameno the most appeal.

On the calmer south coast, the car-free perfection of Sant’Angelo offers a languid blend of a cosy harbour, sunning cats and nearby bubbling beaches. In between the coasts lies a less-trodden landscape of dense chestnut forests, loomed over by Monte Epomeo, Ischia’s highest peak.

The island was an important stop on the trade route from Greece to northern Italy in the 8th century but has since seen its fair share of disaster. The 1301 eruption of the now-extinct (and unfortunately named) Monte Arso forced the locals to flee to the mainland where they remained for four years. Five centuries later, in 1883, an earthquake killed more than 1700 people and razed the burgeoning spa town of Casamicciola to the ground. To this day, the town’s name signifies ‘total destruction’ in the Italian vernacular.