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Yacht Charter: One Heavenly Day On Ischia

Yacht Charter

The island of Ischia may be a little less well known than its glamorous Amalfi neighbours of Capri and Positano, but this glorious rocky island is an absolutely stunning place to spend a day or two on an Amalfi Coast yacht charter.

With its volcanic grandeur, steep cliffs falling away into blue-green coves, and jumble of pastel-coloured fishing villages, Ischia endlessly charms the senses under the Mediterranean sun, as you feast on fresh seafood and mountain rabbit, wander local vineyards, and dive off your charter yacht into the deep blue sea.

Famous for its magnificent thermal springs, which have been used since antiquity, it’s all too easy to look out over the Tyrrhenian Sea from Ischia’s dramatic coastline, and imagine the ancient Greek fleet approaching across the Bay of Naples around 3000 years ago, or wealthy Roman patricians sitting in the same thermal pools that are used today. The lush botanical gardens and cool pine forests of Ischia have earned the island the enduring title of ‘Green Island’, while the view of the medieval castle on its little islet off the coast is straight out of a Mediterranean fairy tale.

While Ischia is infinitely more quiet and laid-back than nearby Capri, it is far from undiscovered, with a long line of celebrities favouring its hot springs and timeless beauty from the moment that Italian filmmaker Angelo Rizzoli arrived in 1951 and brought Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Charlie Chaplin in his wake. The island has been used in multiple Hollywood films, such as Burton’s and Taylor’s barge scene in Cleopatra – and even as a stand-in for Capri in The Talented Mr Ripley, when directors wanted to find a throwback to the simplicity of 1950’s Capri.

There’s an old-fashioned sense of timelessness that lays over this island despite its elegant hotels and swanky thermal spas. You’ll find it in the cobblestone piazzas in the evening when the locals gather, in the pretty fishing villages when old men bring in their nets as they have for millennia, and in the black-garbed matriarchs praying in white churches high above the sea. This is Italy in full technicolour and in all its languorous Mediterranean beauty.

Welcome to what locals call ‘the anti-Capri’.

Highlights Of An Amalfi Coast Yacht Charter On Ischia

Thermal Baths & Beaches

It is hard to overestimate the importance of the thermal baths on Ischia. The hot springs bubble up on the shore and in lush gardens, steam geysers hiss out of the beaches, and locals cook food in the hot sands and laze about in natural rockpools – some of which are so warm that they can be used as a bath in mid-winter. The mineral-rich mud and spring water of the island are believed to have curative, detoxifying, and beautifying powers – so much so that Italy is one of the only countries on earth that recognises thermal treatments as a legitimate branch of medicine, particularly for ailments like arthritis and sciatica.

The thermal springs of Ischia have been celebrated in literature since Virgil and Pliny wrote about them in ancient Rome, when Romans carved bathing cave and pools into the rocky coastline – some of which still operate today. According to Greek myth, the volcanic activity of Ischia was due to a feud between Zeus and the monster Typheus, where the monster was banished to live under the island forever, his rage at his imprisonment causing the water to steam and the mud to bubble.

If you are wanting to experience the thermal baths of Ischia, you are spoilt for choice, with thermal parks springing up across the island, as well as some beaches where you can experience the hot springs and rockpools in their natural form.

Of the thermal parks, three stand out: Negombo, The Gardens of Poseidon, and the richly atmospheric Cavascura.

Negombo is the newest, with its architecturally designed pools and grottoes scattered through the park amongst art sculptures, a stunning Turkish hammam, a superb restaurant, and a private beach.

Poseidon Gardens is the most well-known and has historically enjoyed an elite clientele, who come here to relax in the many thermal pools and excellent spa, as well as a wonderful private beach.

Yet for lovers of history and atmospheric places, there can be no excuse not to visit Cavascura, the ancient Roman baths carved into the side of a cave – baths which have been constantly in use since the days of Pliny. Also visit the cave sauna, where very hot air is pumped into the grotto from a nearby spring. This is as close to time travel to the ancient world as it gets.

As for beaches, there are a couple of thermal highlights. At Le Fumerole Beach, geysers send plumes of steam from the sands, while soaking in the natural heated rock pools of Sorgeto Bay is an experience never to be forgotten (particularly under a starry sky at night or in the depths of winter). Locals swim out to the deep cooler waters to catch octopus and urchin, before cooking them in the hot water or in special dishes in the baking sands.

If you’d prefer someone else did the cooking, don’t go past Ristorante Emanuela at Fumerole Beach, a place with a reputation for some of the best seafood dishes in southern Italy, and where some menu items are cooked under the hot sand.

Mountains & Vineyards

Mountains & Vineyards

Mount Epomeo is a long-dormant volcano and Ischia’s tallest point, and the splendid hike up here passes rolling vineyards and through lush green forest. When you reach the peak, you should definitely reward yourself with a meal at the famous Ristorante La Grotta Epomeo, with staggering views across the island and across to Capri from the terrace. Either snack on a plate of home-cured ham and cheeses, enjoy an Aperol Spritz at sunset, or push the boat out with Ischia’s signature dish, the cogniglio all’ischitana: delicious rabbit cooked with lashings of garlic, tomato, olive oil and pepperoncino.

Yet La Grotto is not the only restaurant in the Ischian hills worth visiting; at the exceptional Il Focolare restaurant the family owners still celebrate the simple ‘cucina povera’ of the hills: plates of succulent roasted rabbits and chickens, homemade gnocchi and ravioli, light vegetable fritters and baked aubergines from the gardens – all served with hunks of fresh baked bread.

There are local vineyards all over the island that date back to the ancient Greeks, and Ischia’s wine is particularly good, including the eponymous Ischia, Biancolella, Foresta Nera, and Pedirosso. Some wineries offer tours, with the one at the Casa d’Ambra estate a standout. Don’t forget to try the local liquor, the Rucolino, which is made with the wild rocket that grows across the island.

Castles & Monasteries

Castles & Monasteries

The most famous image of Ischia is certainly the view of the Castello Aragonese, a medieval fortress complex built on a volcanic outcrop connected to Ischia by a narrow causeway.

Accessed from Ischia Porto, the island’s main town, the 15th century citadel is a magnificent place to visit and wander through the crypt of the Church of Assumption, and climb the stairs through the stone tunnel to the top, noticing the holes used to pour boiling oil on enemies ascending the walls. There’s also a nun’s cemetery here, where the corpses used to be left to decompose on ‘draining seats’ along the walls, a small torture museum, as well as olive groves and jasmine gardens to wander through. All in all, it’s much more than just walking through any old castle, and is an unmissable stop on your Amalfi Coast yacht charter.

For a meal you don’t even have to leave the castle, as there is a hotel inside the castle walls with a restaurant, the Il Monastero. But if you want to glory in the complete view of the castle from the Ischia mainland then there are plenty of restaurants over the causeway in Ischia Porto, including the rather splendid Ristorante Alberto with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the dining room – and finishing up with one of the best gelatos on the island at Trani Pasticceria (try the dark chocolate gelati for something devilishly decadent.)

There’s also a great beach with a gob-smacking view of the castle, the Spiaggia dei Pescatori, where Bar Lilly da Bruno makes a great little beach bar for drinks and endlessly moreish plates of Italian antipasto.

Fashionable Fishing Villages: Saint Angelo & Forio

Saint Angelo

While Ischia Porto is the busiest place on the island and has the designer boutiques, it is the desperately pretty fishing village of Saint Angelo that draws the VIP crowd. Similarly to Ischia Porto, the coastline is dominated by a huge rock outcrop connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, and the colourful village is nestled beneath this splendid backdrop in a picturesque jumble of brightly painted buildings.

This car-free village is full of restaurants, bars, and gelatarias, while yachts bob about in the lovely harbour. The village is surrounded by treasures: rolling vineyards, the beaches of Maronti and La Fumerole, and the Aphrodite-Appolon Thermal Park are all just a short walk away.

As the sun starts to set, enjoy an aperitivo at one of Saint Angelo’s excellent bars along the seaside piazzetta: La Pirata and Il Pescatore are two of the best, while the tiny wine bar Enoteca la Stadera nearby offers some seriously good antipasto to whet your appetite before dinner. If you can stop eating the snacks and drag yourself away for a proper meal, the gorgeous seafront terraces at Deus Neptunus and Il Ristorante di Casa Celestino attract a well-heeled crowd.


Down the coast a little way you’ll find Forio, another wonderful fishing village which is most famous for its iconic church, the spectacular Chiesa del Soccorso. Sitting above the water on a little headland and framed by Mediterranean sky and a solitary palm tree, this church is a vision in white stucco, with colourful Spanish ceramic tiles leading up the stairs. The site of many a celebrity wedding and postcard photography, this church is a delight to visit – and for something very special, visit at in early evening when the setting sun lights it up a beautiful red and pink.

Up the hill behind the town, you’ll find one of the many beautiful gardens of Ischia, the La Mortella Gardini: a tranquil oasis of lily ponds, oriental temples, and statues. Back in the village, the Piazza del Soccorso is the place to go for the evening passagietta, when locals and tourists gather in the square to gossip and drink negronis. There are also some standout restaurants in Forio, including the Michelin-listed Il Saturnino on the waterfront with its incredible seafood, and the ever-popular La Bella Napoli for pizza.

Visiting Ischia on an Amalfi Yacht Charter

When looking at this rather-long list of places to visit while on charter in Ischia, it becomes apparent that you may need more than a day! To create a personally-tailored itinerary for your Amalfi Coast yacht charter and make sure you hit only the high notes in Ischia and beyond, contact Bespoke Yacht Charter

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