The first time I went to Italy was in July 2012 after my grandmother died to visit one of her favourite places: Isola d’Ischia. Ischia is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian sea, 30 km by boat from Naples. I flew from London Stansted to Naples with Ryanair (my first flight with them, and I have since tried to avoid them as much as possible), and from Porto di Napoli (Naples port), caught the ferry to Ischia. For those thinking of doing the same, it is possible to buy a ticket at the port as well as online. The ferry takes about an hour and a half and costs around £22 return (around £140-£200 if you take your car onboard).
Ischia truly is one of Italy’s hidden treasures. From beautiful restaurants, bars and boutiques along the shores in Porto to the hot springs in Forio to the pristine beaches in Sant Angelo, Ischia is a truly wonderful destination, largely unspoilt by Western tourism.
One of the most interesting sights to visit in Ischia is the Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle in Ischia Ponte which dates back 2500 years. It was built by Hiero I, a Sicilian tyrant and offers visitors an invaluable insight into Ischia’s history. Ticket to the castle cost around 10 euros.
One place I highly recommend visiting – and a place which stole my heart at first sight – is a small shop in the centre of Forio, Serpico Specialita d’Ischia. It’s a very traditional Italian building painted in pink and surrounded by baskets and boxes overflowing with jams, spices, honeys, local liqueurs, soaps and candles. What I love most about this little shop is that it has been run by the Serpico family for over 200 years who pride themselves on promoting Ischia’s traditions and culture.