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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The French film, Villa Amalia - filmed in Ischia

Over 20 movies filmed in Ischia

Producers of internationally successful movies have long been coming to film on the island of Ischia, most frequently in the ancient borgo of Ischia Ponte, where for instance Anthony Minghella shot most of “The Talented Mr Ripley”. In recent years, Ischia's scenery has proven to be a popular backdrop for TV shows such as Italy's version of Top Gear and a few of Bud Spencer's latest productions.

During the last week of June each year Ischia Ponte is the setting for the Ischia Film Festival, an international event dedicated to location cinema - . In July the Ischia GlobalFest, a celebration of Film and Music, takes place in Lacco Ameno.

  Locandine film Ischia

If you're curious to take a look at some of the films which gave Ischia it's brush with fame, try or

1937 - Il Corsaro nero (It.). Amleto Palermi
1937 - Il Dottor Antonio (It.). Enrico Guazzoni
1949 - Campane a martello (It.) Luigi Zampa
1950 - Il Mulatto (It.). Francesco De Robertis
1950 - La Scogliera del peccato (It.). Roberto Bianchi Montero
1952 – The Crimson Pirate (USA). Robert Siodmak - (Burt Lancaster, Eva Bartok)
1953 - Il Mostro dell'isola (It.). Roberto Bianchi Montero
1954 - Lacrime d'amore (It.). Pino Mercanti
1956 - Suor Letizia/Il più grande amore (It.). Mario Camerini
1957 - Vacanze a Ischia (It.-Fr.-RFT). Mario Camerini
1958 - Sissi a Ischia/Scampolo. Alfred Weidenmann
1959 – Purple Noon (Plein soleil) (Fr.). René Clément - (Alain Delon)
1960 - Appuntamento a Ischia (It.). Mario Mattòli
1960 - Morgan il pirata (It.). Primo Zeglio
1962 - Diciottenni al sole (It.). Camillo Mastrocinque
1963 - Cleopatra (USA). Joseph L. Mankiewicz - (Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton)
1966 - After the Fox (It.-USA-GB). Vittorio De Sica - (Peter Sellers, Britt Ekland)1966 - Ischia operazione amore (It.). Vittorio Sala 
1972 – Avanti (USA). Billy Wilder - (Jack Lemmon, Juliet Mills)
1976 - La Professoressa di scienze naturali (It.). Michele Massimo Tarantini
1977 - La Vergine, il Toro e il Capricorno (It.). Luciano Martino
1985 - Una tenera follia (It.). Ninì Grassia
1998 - Il Commissario Raimondi (TV). Paolo Costella
1999 - Cient'anne (It.). Ninì Grassia
1999 - The Talented Mr. Ripley (USA). Anthony Minghella - (Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law)
2001 - Se lo sai sono guai (It.). Michele M. Tarantin
2003 – Suddenly Paradise (It.) Leonardo Pieraccioni
2005 - Un estate al mare
2008 - Villa Amalia
2009 - I delitti del cuoco (TV)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ischia Poetry Retreat with well-known Canadian poet, Lorna Crozier

Ischia Poetry Workshop: May 3-7th , 2012

Lorna Crozier is one of Canada's most beloved and talented poets, and a wonderful teacher. She is a recent recipient of the Order of Canada and is a recognized Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. 

This three-day workshop in the beautiful setting of Ischia will be all about inspiration. We’ll get together, soak up the sun and let the sounds of the ocean seduce us into the music of poetry. I’ll be your guide and facilitator, but the most important part of such a workshop will be what we share with one another. Creativity spawns creativity. My goal is to help you find your stories and to propel you into writing new work, poetry that matters to you and to other people. I’ll be giving you writing prompts, some to generate in-class writing and some for you to take away and work on during the day. As well, I’ll spend a couple of hours every day discussing issues of craft, such things as diction, meter, line structure, and form. Though you’ll be working hard, we’ll make sure there’s time to walk the beach, taste the local cuisine and renew yourself. When you leave the island to return home, you will have poems in your pocket, ones you can work on over the next several weeks. I can’t wait to leave my island (Vancouver Island) for this one and to work and play with you.
Bring pen and paper, a few favourite poetry books, and your laptop, if you have one

Cost of the Workshop: $425 CAD (325 Euros)

For registration and for information about the practical side of the retreat, please contact Lynette Shultz directly at

The workshop will be taking place in and around Forio on the Colella Family premises. Accommodation is available from 55euro pp/day including a light breakfast and dinner. Please contact Giuseppe for bookings: or

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tanning Secrets of the Med

Ever wondered how the beach goers of the Med turn that golden bronzed colour? It not only has something to do with the sun and mild UV (apart from August where you may feel the need the for higher spf  protection).

Husk of Walnut Oil aka Olio Mallo di Noce.
The husk is the fleshy part produced by the  plant which is covering the fruit itself. The nuts we commonly buy at the supermarket are not quite how you would find them on the trees - they have been stripped from the husk and dried, roasted or salted. The true walnut (or endocarp) is in fact wrapped by a layer pulposus, the husk (or mesocarp), in turn covered by a peel (or exocarp).

The walnut is traditionally used as a colouring and flavouring in the production of liqueurs (walnut liqueur). Interesting however are the health benefits stemming from this natural colourant and the structures of the oils. The oil extracted from the husk has been traditionally used in protecting the skin from the sun as well as to promote tanning. The extent to which the oil is able to perform these functions relies on the natural compounds naphthoquinones (Vitamin K compound) and juglone (aromatic compound present in naphthoquinones) found present in the cells which make up the husk. When applied these substances react with the keratin present in hair and epidermis of the skin, creating a complex brown pigmentation, explaining the use of walnut shells as a hair dye for red-brown reflections.

Immediately after application your skin will begin to look tanned purely due to the pigmenting effects of the oil properties. Once in the presence of ultraviolet radiation, the chemical complex naphthoquinone - keratin  acts as selective filter, helping  to shield the skin from the UVB rays as well as accelerating the melanogenesis (production of melanin) induced by UVA rays. For this reason the walnut oil is extensively used in the formulation of suncare products.

The juglone present in the walnut husk and leaves of the tree is equipped with allelopathic properties (a biological phenomenon by which an organism produces one or more biochemicals that influence the growth, survival, and reproduction of other organisms - wikipedia), and thus is able to condition the growth and development of other living organisms; in particular, the juglone prevents the growth of the other botanical species with which it comes into contact, for instance: juglone is also able to inhibit fungal growth as well as exhibit antibacterial properties. And so in addition to its pigmenting properties, the walnut husks are recognized as an antiseptic, vermifuge and keratinizing.

So now you know!

My recommendation: Kodrap Olio al mallo di noce - approx. 4euro a bottle in stores.