Monday, May 26, 2014

What To Do With Your Kids In Ischia

Children need continuous reams of activity and entertainment even when on holiday...especially when on holiday. Beautiful scenery and sightseeing is just not going to cut it.

Heres a list of things you can do with your children while on holiday in Ischia:

Build sand castles on Chiaia Beach

Chiaia (say kiy-ay-A) beach in Forio is one of the most child friendly beaches on the island. Close to town with a panoramic view of Forio and the bay, this wide stretch of beach is lovely and flat and leaves ample space for kids to run around and build sand castles, not to mention playing with all the other kids whose parents had the same idea. The shoreline is protected from rough swell by a series of man-made rocky barriers and the depth of the bay within is ideally shallow for small children. 

There is a section of public beach available, however in the heat of the summer I would highly recommend hiring sunchairs and umbrellas to give your little ones a break from the sun. Prices start from 7euro out of season for one chair and umbrella and also depend on how close you want to be to the sea - front-row seats usually go for a little more, but its well worth the extra cash.

The beach is also lined with snack bars and restaurants so you won't have to walk miles to get a cold drink or something to eat, the kids can even go off and get gelatos themselves.

Snorkeling the Cartaromana

ANS Diving in Ischia Ponte offers an educational afternoon out on the boat just for kids, all equipment included. Run by a husband and wife duo, Pietro and Santina, and their two kids, Maria and Rafaele; their program involves an educational snorkeling expedition around the bay of Cartaromana and the rocks of Sant Anna where the children will be shown hidden caves and educated about the unique sealife and ecosystem that exists in the area. Followed by underwater games in the Castle Aragonese bay, activities improving the apnea techniques, jumping off the boat, water basket ball and more.

The program usually runs for a week but daily participants are always welcomed. The children meet at the ANS Diving quarters in Ischia Ponte and will get a welcome and briefing, followed by sizing of fins, mask and snorkel and then they all head off to the boat. The program runs for 3hours and is guaranteed to be the best 20euro you ever spent.

Old Mac Donald Had A Farm

Up in the mountains between Casamicciola and Ischia, not only will you be amazed at the amount of hiking trails available (all well marked and sign-boarded) but you will also find the Horse Riding School of Ischia. Here you can request horse rides either within the property or go on an excursion (depending on your childs skill and experience with horses).

For the rest, the riding school has a beautiful farm with many different kinds of animals from pigs, to sheep, skunk, squirells and many more. The stables are open for you to meet all the horses who are stabled there. Don't forget to have your picture taken with "Salsiccia" (meaning sausage) - the little Shetland pony! She'll even take you for a little ride.


Pedal Boat In The Sea

What child doesn't like to pedal boat!? And in Ischia, you can pedal boat in the sea thanks to the calm waters. With kids, you want to chose activities that are both fun and expend energy, lots of energy. 

At La Rotonda sul Mare in Forio, you get free use of the pedal boat and kayaks when renting a sunchair and  umbrellla on the sea front deck (plus the amenities such as bathrooms and snack bar are a huge bonus). 

Alternatively you can rent a pedal boat from 5euro for a limited time and do a trip around the bay with your kids. Choose the ones with the built-in slide for extra fun.


Choo Choo

Take them on a train ride through the town. Every evening  the trenino (little train) leaves Chiaia beachfront and does a tour of the town. You won't miss it by its flashing lights and music as it whizzes through the streets of Forio. Fun for the whole family.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Napoli...The Gateway To Paradise

All tourists travelling to Ischia and Capri alike will without a doubt have to go through Naples to get here. Whilst googling so for some information about Ischia's therapeutic waters, I stumbled upon this great website: Napoli Unplugged.  At first glance, Naples tends to throw one for a loop - the overwhelming sense of chaos and confusion with traffic and people leaves little to be desired for most. But, given a chance, Naples can actually open you up to a whole new perspective on this ancient city.

Hike Vesuvius, explore Naples Underground, Pompeii and Herculaneum. Eat Margherita pizza at the famous Da Michele, and try a traditional Sfogliatella or BabĂ  at the Pasticceria Giovanni Scaturchio, shop the markets in the Piazza Garibaldi or department stores of via Toledeo.

What ever you choose to do in this amazing city, make it count...give Naples a chance and your entire trip will evolve to another level Wow!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shopping the Sartoria

From Positano, to Amalfi and Capri, the famous Antica Sartoria has finally reached the shores of Ischia.

Originating from the seaside town of Positano, Antica Sartoria began in the 60's catering to the urban tourists who would arrive at the coast unaware of the humid climate and steep walks through the cliffside town. So the town's shop owners began to design and produce cool clothing to sell to these tourists using mainly linen and light cotton, with the signature embroidered or crocheted finishes. The likes of Benneton and Fiorucci who usually holidayed in Positano got involved with ideas on dying and colourful pattern creations giving life to the linen fabrics. Eventually a small factory was opened by Giacomo Cinque and Riccardo Ruggiti, and so began the Antica Sartoria. 

The company now uses fabric and craftsmen alike from all over the world all the while preserving the original spirit and expression of what began as a "Positanese style". 

Sharing similarities in climate and terrain, the towns of Amalfi, Capri and Ischia are now all homes to these beautiful stores where you will enjoy browsing the endless styles of cotton and linen wear to suite all sizes. Sarongs, flowing tops and dresses are often under 20euro on the outdoor racks so be sure to find a bargain.

To view the 2014 catalogue or order online visit www.anticasartoriapositano.it/

Catalogue

Sunday, May 18, 2014

10 Things To Do In Ischia Under 20euro

We’re almost halfway through 2014 but the season in Ischia is only beginning. As the tourism kicks up momentum from the boom of the Easter weekend, more and more curious travellers are arriving on our shores to explore what this beautiful island has to offer.
But what lies beyond its beautiful volcanic mountain, famous thermal springs and most popular sights? With this comprehensive list of alternative things to do in Ischia we encourage you to explore the other side of the island. Discover Ischia’s unique culture, people and history through outdoor activities, restaurants and bars and museums. We help you uncover 10 places around Ischia to eat, play, shop, celebrate and relax, as well as an attractive smattering of free things to do on the island.
Casa Museo



Image by Enzo Rando for Ischia.it: enzorando.it
Cost: Free
The Casa Museo, or "House Museum" is nestled into the side of the mountain on the main SS270 road between Serrara Fontana and Barano and is the creation of owner Salvatore Di Meglio.

The house is built into the rock and comprises a series of stone and wood worked by hand to create stairways, tunnels, rooms and other artwork created with stones, pebbles, sea shells and glass.

Entrance is free, but you may leave a tip if you wish to.

Contact: Tel. 3497198879 - Email: dimeglio69@yahoo.com | View location


Bar Calise Ischia


Image courtesy of
ischianews.com
Cost: Enjoy a coffee and pastry from 3euro
If you happen to be visiting Ischia in the quieter periods, the island may seem a little desserted until you go to the Calise bar near Ischia Ponte. This bar forms the social hub of teens, business men and tourists alike. If not gathered at the bar counter getting their fix of caffeine or cornetto, or musing over the hundreds of specialty pastries and sweets, they're out on the side walk chatting alongside parked mopeds.

This is the place for people-watchers and those wanting to get a enriched insight into the life of the islanders.

Not to miss is their spectacular display over Easter of all inhouse made chocolates.

Contact: +39 081 991270 | View location

Snorkelling around the Castle

Image courtesy of Nemoischia.it
Cost: From 15euro pp

Explore Ischia from a wetter perspective. Guided snorkelling tours are a great way to experience the biodiversity that lies beneath Ischia's sea water. Discover the unique "bubbling waters", spot octopus, diversity of fish life, maybe even the odd dolphin.
Contact: Pietro @ ANS Diving - Ischia Ponte pietrosorvino@yahoo.it or
Bruno @ Nemo - Sant Angelo info@nemoischia.it 
Cartaromana Beach


Image courtesy of Parco Cartaromana
Cost: Taxi boat from Ischia Ponte around 4euro pp
This beach may be small but it definately boasts fab views of Castello Aragonese, Procida and the coast of Napoli as well as great little swimming spots around the Sant Anna rocks which peak out of the sea. The sand on this beach is always a little warmer caused by volcanic steam released deep below the surface. You can walk to this beach but it is rather hidden away and the foot path is quite steep, it is much more enjoyable to reach by boat.

View location
Castello Aragonese


Cost: 10euro pp

Although this may be an obvious choice to visit, not many people do venture within the walls of the Castle. But if history is what you're looking for, then here is where you'll find it. Boasting some of the most amazing panoramic views the island has to offer, from Ischia Ponte, to Mount Vesuvius, Sorrento, Capri and back around to Cartoromana. The winding path takes you throughout the castle's gardens as well as museums, chapels and the cathedral. You almost get an eerie sense of what it must have been like living in the 1800's. Plus there are two coffee shops for anyone wanting to stop for morning or afternoon tea or a light lunch.

Contact: +39 081 992 834  |  View location
Fumerole "hot sands" on Maronti


Image courtesy of Tripadvisor
Cost: Free

Just below the Aphrodite spa on the foot path over Sant Angelo to Maronti Beach is where you'll find this tiny angle of beach where the ground gives off heat energy and produces great clouds of steam and the gas bubbles in the sea at a temperature of 100 ° C. A few meters from the shore, snorkellers can see the bubbles of gas escaping the sea floor, and on the beach, rocks and red tape mark the hot spots of the beach, for your protection. Since Roman times the hot sand was used to cure the ailments of the body, as soldiers would bury their bodies into the heat of the beach sand up to their necks. Ofcourse, the heat was also found to be ideal for cooking.

If you are looking for a special evening, not to miss on a starry night with good company is a baked chicken with potatoes and hard-boiled eggs as the locals do it. Wrap it all up in alluminium foil and leave it cook in the 100 degree temps in the sand of the fumaroles, and after just over an hour everything is ready. In warmer periods, while waiting for the food to cook, bathing in the moonlight is a must, thereafter returning to the warmth of the sand to look at the stars while enjoying some local wine.



Sundowners at San Montano



Image courtesy of sanmontano.com
Cost: From 8euro for an aperitivo

Perched up on top of a rocky outcrop between Negombo spa and the town of Lacco Ameno, San Montano hotel and spa will make you feel like a secret observer of the island. The patio and pool area of the hotel overlook the bay of Naples and mount Epomeo. Its like having a birds eye view of the ongoings of the island. At dusk, this place is truly one of the most magical places to sip on sundowners as the bay slips into shades of indigo and violet.
Contact: +39 081 994033 | View location

Visit the Cantina Crateca



Image courtesy of vinicratecaischia.it
Cost: Free to visit

This breathtaking vineyard has only been open to the public for the last two years but it is well worth the visit. Overlooking the valley of Forio from the mountain's edge, these two hectares of lush grape vines seem to drop off into the sea when you're standing amongst the them.  You can go anytime you like however Tuesdays is their special lunch day where you will get a personal tour of the vineyard, visit the sulphur rocks and enjoy a lovely lunch in their characteristic cantina while tasting their fragrant wines. Booking is essential. Contact for costs.

Contact: +39 349 3982431 | View location
Dinner at La Casereccia


Cost: Dinner including wine from 20euro pp

What better way to enjoy a good Italian meal than to have it cooked for you by a real Italian mamma: with care and passion. At La Casereccia, this family run restaurant serves up food of the freshest ingredients, in season and personally prepared for you by the mamma. Freshest ingredients and careful preparation is what this restaurant is all about which is why they have seasonal menus offering you the best of what is good and available from mother nature.The spring menu is running until mid June and is jam packed with delicious combinations such as Bucatini pasta with Pancetta and Fava beans, and a must try Goats cheese Ravioli with rabbit sauce. Plus, the pizza is talked of as the best on the island.

Contact: Giuseppe +39 333 698 5665 or  081 987756 | View location



Kayak or pedal-boat the bay of San Francesco



Cost: From 7euro pp including a sunchair and umbrella plus use of the kayaks and pedal boat

Find yourself a little spot in paradise at the La Rotonda sul Mare. From June this little self-catering resort is open to the public where they offer free use of kayaks and the pedal boat when you hire a sunchair on the wooden deck overlooking the bay of San Francesco and Forio. There is also a snack bar serving light lunches and drinks, internet and wash rooms available.

Contact: +39 335 527 0781 | View location



Whether you’re a first-time tourist or repeat visitor, the vibrant Ischia Island has plenty on offer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Destination Wedding Ischia 101

A quaint catholic church, winding cobble stone streets, fishing boats bobbing in the bay and local passersby chattering...these are all things that come into mind when I think destination wedding on an Italian island, bellissimo!


So how does one go about arranging a destination wedding?

Well, I live on the island so technically the part where the bride has to deal with the extra stress of organising from the other side of the world is off my shoulders, however, on behalf of my guests, this is still technically a destination wedding for them.

Legalities and paperwork:
There are two ways to do this: Firstly, you could go to your local city hall, do your "I Do's", sign the papers and get it all out of the way before the wedding. As unromantic as this may sound so bluntly put, it saves alot of hassle and stress in the long run. The alternate is to do the whole shabang here in Ischia which involves alot more paperwork and preparation but at the end of the day, Ischia will always remain a part of your marriage and your memories. One thing you learn quickly in Italy is, with the right contacts...anything is possible.

The dress:
Italy is well known for their exsquisite wedding gowns by designers such as Sottero, and my ultimate favourite, Alberta Ferretti! My dream was to walk down the aisle in one of Ferretti's spring 2013 bridal collection dresses, however, destination weddings do come with their sacrifices. I opted to having mine done in South Africa as it was something special I could share with my mom. We were lucky enough to have found Gerrit Pienaar, who was able to transform a picture of a classic into a beautiful dress.

The guest list:
Family and close friends is definately the way to go. My mom always said, if you haven't seen or heard from them for over a year, then you already know. However, its never an easy task! In the same token, if the list is never ending, its a small price to pay for being fortunate enough to have so many wonderful friends (but in this instance neither the budget nor my folks were in agreement). We both have big families, unfortunately, with the exchange of the Rand to the Euro, many of my loved ones will not be able to make the trip. This is something one will have to consider before making the decision to have a destination wedding as it is often not possible to have all your friends and family present for the special occasion. 

The accommodation:
Ideally, you should try to locate accommodation that is nearby the reception to save the extra hassles of transportation after the festivities. Some might not worry about it, but personally, if my guests have made the effort to be there I'd want to ensure that they are organised. Fortunately, my fiance has hotel accommodation on the restaurant property so many of the guests have opted to stay here and at the apartments down the road. We were thinking of hiring a bus to transport the guests to the church ceremony and then back to the restaurant for the reception?

The reception: Venue, Flowers, Music
Go for a venue where the setting adds to 80% of the charm as it will save you on extra costs for decor. In Ischia, many hotels and restaurants provide wedding venues. Some places offer wedding packages which saves you from trying to coordinate all the different services providers. Look at the websites and ask the following questions:
  • Do they offer all inclusive wedding packages?
  • What is the best time of the year: for weather, peak & low seasons
  • What choices do they offer for table sizes and shapes and linen colours
  • Chairs - colour, style
  • Venue capacity
  • Whether there its indoor, outdoor or both 
  • Bar arrangements
  • Menu options
  • Serving style options (i.e. plated or buffet)
  • Can they quote for a cake
  • What flowers are  in season and can they quote for flowers
  • Can they arrange the music of your choice or recommend someone to you
The church:
Depending on your religion you may choose to marry in a Catholic church or receive a blessing performed by a follower of your religion. There are some of the most beautiful churches in Ischia, all shapes and sizes, some on the sea, others up the mountain. If the church is not for you, another option is to be married on a sail boat with Ischia Castle as your backdrop... not bad huh!

The right time:
All places have their peak and off seasons which you can play around with  if you're still juggling the budget. For instance, Ischia's low season is April - May and September - November, in which you could grab some great specials. In April and November, one is still chancing a wet and raining time which could put a damper on things, however I've been to a wedding in April and it was a lovely, sunny day. From June - August the weather is amazing: long, hot, sunny days however the prices do start to go up from June onward. August is the peak of the season which makes it very busy and very hot. The choice is all yours. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Autumn in Ischia

Ischia is wonderfully calm in the Autumn. After a busy summer, jammed packed with visitors taking advantage of the great weather and sandy beaches, Ischia calms down completely in the autumn and winter months.

With cooler temps and sometimes very rainy weather, islanders find themselves other activities to consume their day....picking olives and making wine :) Yup, autumn in Ischia is olive and wine season!

The grapes are usually harvested for wine making in September - October and the new wine which is legal to drink after one month is called Vino Novello: a semi sweet wine with a slight fizz. October is the time of picking olives and Ischia olives make wonderful, fragrant oil. The damp weather also creates the perfect environment for picking mushrooms and there is a vast forest area on the Mnt Epomeo on which to spend the day in search of the delicious yet well disguised Porcini. Please note, it is wise to go mushroom picking with an islander who has a good knowledge of mushrooms as some varieties are even too poisonous to touch.

So after months of long, dry sunny days, islanders retire to the fire side with some good red wine, taglietelle pasta with porcini mushrooms, crusty bread and roasted chestnuts. Get your green fingers on and experience whats Ischia's earth has to offer.

Contact me for further info on an agroturismo experience in Ischia including harvesting grapes and wine making, mushroom and chestnut picking, and olive picking for jarring and pressing olive oil.