Beyond the beach: hiking in Ischia

Beyond the beach: hiking in Ischia

While Ischia has amazing beaches and seaside towns where you can easily spend your entire vacation, there is also a whole different world happening up in the hills above the sea. Ischia is also known as l’isola verde (the green island) because it is a fertile island full of vineyards and wineries, forests and orchards. This is the perfect place to experience hiking (also known as trekking in Italian) and hiking in Ischia is a must for anyone visiting the island.

Luckily, there are plenty of chances to see this verdant part of the island and you can take part in guided hikes through the forest trails and wineries with stops for wine tasting and lunch at farm restaurants far from the traffic of town life below. Hiking in Ischia is amazing as you get to immerse yourself in nature while also taking in magnificent views the sea, the gulf of Naples, Capri, the Sorrento peninsula, and the coastline that stretches all the way up to Rome.

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This past weekend, I was really excited to get the chance to take part in a hike led by the splendid Marianna Polverino of Ecotour Ischia. I’ve heard a lot about her through others who have been on her guided walks and we’re friends on Instagram so it was nice to finally meet her in person. The group was made up of fellow islanders and we explored the trails along the eastern side of the island, through the vineyards in the areas of Campagnano and Piano Liguori overlooking spectacular views of the gulf of Naples and the islands Procida and Capri.

Before the post-war tourism boom, the island’s biggest export was wine and vineyards stretched across the island’s terrain. Wine-making is still an important aspect of the island and in recent years the island’s wine is achieving international recognition. Just a few days ago, the Ischian winery Cantina Antonio Mazzella received the award as winery of the year from Vinitaly, one of the world’s most reputable wine expositions and competitions.

hiking in Ischia
Marianna Polverini of Ecotour Ischia showing us the trail at the start of our afternoon hiking in Ischia

The encyclopedic Marianna led us and stopped along the way to describe the geological history of the area, show us the different types of stone and lava and how past eruptions had caused the land on this part of the island to form in a particular way, point out important and interesting plant life, and explain to us the terrain and why the shape of the hills and bays create the perfect condition for grapes to grow.

All of us in the group live in Ischia and for many of us this was the first time we were exploring this part of the island and discovering these new things. It was lovely to see Ischia through Marianna’s eyes and feel her infectious love for the island. Being away from the traffic and bustle of everyday life below, we followed the coastline from the trails above, stopping along the way to take in the sites of San Pacrazio, La Scarrupata, and finishing off with a climb to Monte Vezzi where from the top we saw the spectacular view of Sant’Angelo in the south and the Castello Aragonese in the east.

Scarrupata Bay

It took a few hours and by the end it was lunch time and we were famished, so we stopped at the restaurant Piano Liguori just off the trail (it’s only accessible to walkers). We feasted on fried artichokes from their garden and cured olives from their orchards overlooking the view of the gulf of Naples and Capri from their terrace.

Lunch on the terrace with a spectacular view at Piano Liguori restaurant

It was such a good day with a lively group of people. I had forgotten how much I loved hiking. I used to do it all the time when I lived in the Hudson Valley in New York, but that was a long time ago. And walking in the hills through the vineyards along the coastline was an incredible experience and I felt euphoric. Moving to Italy and to Ischia hasn’t been easy and has its ups and downs, but yesterday reminded me that I made the right decision. It’s not just about the beauty, but it’s about the history, too. There’s so much life here and so much to find out about.

hiking in Ischia
Our hiking group on the top of Monte Vezzi. Photo courtesy of Vieni a Ischia

If you’d like to go on a tour, you can contact Marianna at Ecotour Ischia. She speaks both English and Italian and is a licensed ecotour guide and can take you walking on the numerous paths along the island. I recommend hiring a guide as a guide can take you on one of the more lesser known paths and know which ones are safe for your ability.

First time in Ischia, Italy? Here are 5 beaches to check out

First time in Ischia, Italy? Here are 5 beaches to check out

The summer season is just about to start here in Ischia and I’m already starting to think about all the beaches that I’m going to visit this summer.

Being a volcanic island, the beaches on Ischia are smooth sandy beaches that are perfect for spending a long beach holiday. Depending on your beach-going style, time of day, and what you’re in the mood for, there are so many gorgeous beaches to try.

For your first Ischia beach holiday try our these 5 beaches for your first visit:

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Cartaromana (Ischia Ponte)

I’ve been going to this beach with my family ever since I was a small child and it is one of my favourites on the island. There are two ways to reach this beach – one by boat (just a short ride from Ischia Ponte) or by walking. If you love walking, it’s a nice walk with gorgeous views of the Castello Aragonese, Capri and the gulf of Naples but just be prepared that it takes about 45 min – 1 hour to arrive if you’re walking leisurely and stop to take pictures.

If you decide to take a boat taxi, you can get a ride from Angelo from Cassano Barche, just to the right of the bridge that leads you to the Castello. It is 5 euros per person round trip.

Once you arrive to the beach, there is the hotel and restaurant Da Maria which has some beds and umbrellas. You can have a fantastic seafood lunch at the restaurant and then walk along under the cliff to sit in the natural hot springs. You can see bubbles bubbling up from the sand below.

Cava del Isola (Forio)

ischia beach holiday

This beach is located in Forio between the Chiesa del Soccorso and Citara Beach. It’s a short walk from the centre and is reached by descending a long driveway. The beach has a young vibe to it with lots of 20 years playing volleyball, singing, having picnics. The beach is free, but you can rent an umbrella from the beachside restaurant and bar La Capanna for 3 euros. It’s a great place for snorkelling and since the sun sets on this side of the island you can spend a long day at the beach and wait for the sunset.

This beach has a more rugged feel to it and the sea has a turquoise colour. Big boulder of lava rock that fell from Monte Epomeo centuries ago dot the coastline.  

Maronti Beach (Barano)

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This is the longest beach of uninterrupted coast line on the island. It spans almost 3k long and leads to the fishing village Sant’Angelo. This area of the island is full of hot springs, walking trails, wild vegetation as well as private beach clubs and a thermal water park (The Nitrodi) if you’re looking for more comfort and luxury. Near Sant’Angelo, you will find the area known as Le Fumarole – the temperature beneath the sand here can go well above 100 degrees C. An long-standing island tradition is to cook food at the beach by burying it in the sand (such as chicken or hard boiled eggs) and have a picnic under the stars.

On the other end of Maronti you can find a trail from the beach that takes you up to Cavascura, a natural sauna carved in a cave that dates back to Roman times. So after taking a swim in the natural hot springs the sea, you can hike up to Cavascura and experience the sauna.

San Montano (Lacco Ameno)

San Montao is a quiet beach in a hidden bay between Lacco Ameno and Forio. Half of the beach is public and the other half is run by the thermal water park, Negombo, one of the nicest water parks on the island.

The water is shallow so is a great place for children to play and because it’s set back from the main boat traffic on the sea, the beach is a tranquil place to spend the day.

San Pietro (Ischia Porto)

San Pietro is one of the largest beaches on the island and is a great beach for families. The large cove makes for a calm sea so lots of children and adults play games like volleyball or football.

The beach is just a short walk from the port and easily accessible. There are public beaches as well as private beach clubs where you can hire a sun bed and get a drink at the bar.  

These are just a few to try for your first Ischia beach holiday, but stay tuned for more!