Ischia: Eat, Drink and Whistle

April 10, 2013 / Places
Ischia, Campania
Port scene around Ischia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThe largest island in the Phelgrean Archipelago — just at the northern end of the Bay of Naples out in the Tyrrhanean Sea — Ischia is where about six-million tourists come annually to enjoy la dolce vita (the sweet life) — for a week, a month or for a season.

Ischia, as well as the entire Italian peninsula, jokingly refers to itself as the island where one comes to eat, drink and whistle — “Si mangia, si bevi, si fischia.” Now, if that isn’t LAID BACK, I don’t know what is.

A non-active volcanic island, Ischia’s big draw are its numerous thermal baths. Mainland Italians and curious outsiders ferry across the bay to be pampered morning, noon and night; and the friendly Ischiani put out their “welcome mat” in three primary languages (Italian, English and German) as the majority of the 60,000 islanders are multi-lingual.

Panoramic view of Mare Tirreno from Ischia | ©Tom Palladio ImagesAlong with the natural underground therms and world-class wellness programs found on this mostly mountainous isle, Ischia is picture-postcard perfect and boasts a delectable kitchen (rabbit, not fish, headlines the menu), fragrant lemon groves and hillside vineyards (think sweet Limoncello and dry Biancolello wine), breathtaking panoramas, and inviting beaches, little bays and quaint, tucked-away coves.

Discovered by the Mycenaeans of ancient Greece sometime between 1600-1200 BC, legend has it that the all-powerful mythical god Zeus exiled two miscreants, one to the nearby island of Procida and the other to Ischia, changing them both into monkeys along the way.

There’s no documentation that monkeys of any kind roamed Ischia long ago, but given the fun-loving nature of the locals, I’d say any monkeys worth their weight in bananas would go ape if they could simply while away the days — like their hominidae primate counterparts — eating, drinking and, perhaps, whistling.

View of Porto Ischia | ©Tom Palladio Images

View of Sant' Angelo - Ischia | ©Tom Palladio Images
Street scene along Porto Ischia | ©Tom Palladio Images
Panoramic view of Neopolitan coastline from the Ischian hills | ©Tom Palladio Images

View of the little port at Sant''Angelo - Ischia | ©Tom Palladio Images

by Tom Weber

Tom is a veteran print-broadcast journalist who resides in the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) in the province of Padova in the Veneto region of northestern Italy. He hosts the eclectic travel/foodie/photography blog The Palladian, is a regular contributor to Los Angeles-based, and is a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance. Feel free to follow Tom as he “meanders along the cobblestone to somewhere.”

10 Responses to “Ischia: Eat, Drink and Whistle”

  1. Mary Lou Branson

    The natives on Ischia are so welcoming! My daughter and I were there on New Year’s Eve day several years ago; there were no restaurants open, but our golf-cart driving taxi driver took us to a restaurant where the owner’s large family was celebrating. They took us in, made us pasta carbonara, and couldn’t have been kinder.

  2. Allan Mahnke

    We visited Ischia last October, and your blog brought it all back. What a wonderful place. When there, make sure to visit the garden “La Mortella.”

  3. Tom, Your photos are incredible. Although I haven’t been there yet your article and pictures make we want to. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Joy Huffines

    Hi Tom: My favorite Tio Guiseppe’s ancestors came from this island, and he used to tell me tales of it that his parents told him. Altho we’ve been past it on boats many times, we’ve never been able to stop off, so it’s still on the top of my bucket list. Your photos make me want to go tomorrow! Thanks.

  5. Thank you so much for this lovely and informative story! When I lived in Italy my family went to Ischia for a Spring break in the early 70’s, it was heavenly, and now I know more about it than I did then. Thanks for le memorie….

  6. Ischia is a very special place – my husband’s grandfather and his ancestors were from there. So it was necessary when we were in Rome that we visit this island to see his “roots”. We took the train from Rome and then the ferry from Naples and stayed overnight in Forio, Grandpop’s town. While riding on the public bus, we passed by a road sign with his last name on it…Impagliazzo…but were going to fast to snap a photo! Darn I wish I had that road sign.
    We must go back..If you can visit the Pietratorcia Winery , you will have a treat.

    • gina tramparulo

      Kathy, we go back God Willing every six months. My grandfather and family were from Ischia also. The most beautiful place on earth. I am so happy the Island is not so known by Americans so to keep the “Old World Charm” of the true old Italy. So far all over Italy this is our favorite place. I am writing you from Venice and as beautiful as Venice is, Ischia is moreso.

  7. Ciao, Tom – Oh to be in Ischia right now! Grazie for the temptation and still another “place to see” in Italia!


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