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  • 5 Best Views in Ischia
    Discover beautiful sights worthy of postcards on one of Italy's most charming islands
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    Cartaromana offers visitors the chance to see Castello Aragonese from a different angle than usual. Photo © by Antonio Gerenini
    There is no argument that Italy's Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples, is a stunner. Known as L'Isola Verde (The Green Island), Ischia is lush with vegetation and its mountainside serves as the perfect backdrop for the ocean.

    When you're on the island, there are many moments in which you feel as though you are standing in the middle of a painting. In my humble opinion, these experiences are never more poignant than when you're looking at the scene from one of these postcard-worthy views:

    5. Cretajo
    Besides being a beautiful wooded area where you can hang out and home of the famous family-run Trattoria Il Focolare, Cretajo is a great place from which you can look down upon the hustle and bustle of Ischia Porto. The island's capital, Porto is where most visitors disembark from boats when they arrive on the island. (Some arrive at the town of Casamicciola's port.) From Cretajo, you can see ships coming and going, some of the people (who look miniature from up there), and the twinkle of the sun bouncing off the ocean. You might even begin to understand why the islander's call Porto "the city." Yes, it's strange for those of us who come from actual cities on land, such as New York. But it's full of commotion, which is rare for Ischia's islanders.

    4. Mont Epomeo
    From Ischia's highest point, Mont Epomeo, you can see the entire island in all its glory, not to mention beyond. At more than 2,500 feet above sea level, you will also see the Sorrentina peninsula, Capri, Procida, Ponza, and Monte Vesuvio in Naples. The trek to the top of Epomeo, which is now a dormant volcano, is a challenge for the average Giuseppe, but is fairly easy for hardcore hikers.

    Sandra Jontz wrote about her experience climbing Epomeo for Stars and Stripes in 2012 [LINK: http://www.stripes.com/travel/europe-travel/quick-trips/ischia-island-on-top-of-the-world-italian-style-1.177795], and she offers a detailed description of what you'll experience along the way. She points out that Ischia's tourism officials call the view the best in the world, which I obviously think is an exaggeration because I made it the fourth best view in Ischia.

    One of the best parts of hiking Epomeo – say my relatives who have done it – is the chance to ring the bell at the Church of San Nicola, which dates back to the 1500s and is closed to visitors but still stands. Of course, all the Ischitani I know, who have made the trip, always brought sandwiches and water and made a picnic of it.

    3. Nitrodi or the Old Road to Maronti Beach
    There's a tie for third place, mostly because my husband and I can't agree. You can see Maronti Beach and Sant' Angelo, the ancient fishing village, from both Nitrodi and the Old Road. Nitrodi is now a beautiful spa park for taking showers with the healing thermal waters of the area. When lounging on the chairs that sit on foundations carved into the mountainside, you can see Ischia's lush greenery, the ocean of Maronti Beach (if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of sailing boats and a couple of dolphins), and Sant' Angelo. From the Old Road from the town of Testaccio, which is another one of those treks you should take at least once in a lifetime, you can see the entire Maronti Beach and Sant' Angelo.

    Personally, I prefer Nitrodi because the natural beauty is what makes Ischia special and the beach with all its restaurants, hotels, and striped umbrellas, has become rather commercial in recent years. Plus, at Nitrodi, you can take a shower under thermal waters, take a nap, and then take in the scenery. That's a lot of great "taking" for one day.

    2. Zaro
    Otherwise known as make-out point for natives to the island (just ask my husband who brought me here when we were dating), this is a part of the town of Forio. From here, you can see a view of the San Francesco Beach (which is much less commercialized than Maronti, at least for now) and the mountainside dotted with greenery and pastel-colored homes. Recently, I brought American friends on a taxi tour of the island and our driver made them (a married couple) get out of the car and share a kiss for a photo. One look at that emerald ocean and the natural wonders surrounding it, and you will understand why it brings out the passion in folks. There are really no words to fittingly describe how gorgeous the scene is, especially as you hear the waves gently crash into the shore and the leaves dancing in the wind.

    1. Cartaromana
    Even on a cloudy day, Castello Aragonese, as seen from Cartaromana, is impressive. Photo © by Antonio Gerenini

    Whenever I mentioned that I was writing a story about the best views in Ischia, everyone shouted Cartaromana. It had to be No. 1. It was a given. The focal point of the island is the Castello Aragonese, which at different points in its history served as a home for royalty, a fortress for the Neapolitans, a dungeon and torture chamber, and even a love shack. Today, it is a museum, hotel, and restaurant. I've experienced all three, and they are nothing short of amazing. In fact, the view from the window of my hotel room (where my husband and I spent our first wedding anniversary) could have made the list. You take in the scene of the magnificent bridge that connects the castle to the island, the fisherman selling fresh catches literally as they grab the suckers, and the quaint town of Ischia Ponte with its tiny shops and restaurants.

    From Cartaromana, however, you see the castle in the middle of the ocean (with boats surrounding it in spring, summer, and even fall), the rocks that have naturally risen from the sea that look like giant cupcakes iced with more of the greenery that has made Ischia famous, and people lounging at the Cartaromana beach and on some of those rocks (if it's hot enough, of course).

    What makes this scene so lovely is the fact that you are witnessing history and nature untouched. Sure, the castle has been repaired and renovated over the years (even rebuilt), but those who performed the work were careful to maintain its original look and protect as much of its original structure as possible. Surrounded by more of that emerald ocean and all that greenery, you might just have found your happy place.

    Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press Travel, 2012), which is available on Amazon, and you can follow her work at the Two Worlds Web site.


    Article Published 9/9/13

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