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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.