You know I love a budget travel option. Well maybe ‘budget’ is somewhat of an exaggeration when it comes to going anywhere vaguely coastal in southern Italy, so let’s go with ‘more budget friendly’. We were trying decide how to kill a few days near Napoli and our friend Frankie, whom we met and travelled with in Albania, suggested the island of Ischia. It’s pronounced ‘Iskia’ by the way.
Ischia is a small volcanic island about 30 kilometres off the coast from Napoli in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It’s popular among Europeans as a holiday destination but actually has a few cheaper accommodation options the likes of which you will not find in Capri or Sorrento (trust me, I tried).
So after a rather hellish 24 hours of travel from the Albanian capital Tirana (including a bus, an overnight ferry from Albania to Italy, a bus across Italy from Bari to Napoli, a ferry from Napoli to Ischia and finally, a bus to our hostel) we finally arrived here:
The Paradise Beach Hostel. We dumped our bags and headed straight for the pool until sunset:
After a night of sleep in an actual bed (as opposed to the hard linoleum floor of a moving ferry) we got up eager to explore and importantly, find pizza.
The villages on Ischia are connected by a pretty decent bus system. The buses are frequent and boy are they fast. The drivers fly around the tiny roads and blind corners, slowing only when confronted with a bus coming the other way when they literally have to pull in their wing mirrors and breathe in to squeeze past. It’s quite the adrenaline rush.
We walked to the nearby village of Forio and then got the bus back.
We quickly found a restaurant and grabbed a takeaway pizza (5 euros) to eat on the waterfront).
We headed back and spent the rest of the afternoon here:
The next day we took the bus up towards the highest point of the island, towards a town called Fontana. From Fontana you can take a short but very steep hike up to the summit of Mt Epomeo, a very modest 788m.
We grabbed some highly inappropriate hiking snacks and set out on our way.
There were plenty more snacks to be had along the way as abundant blackberry bushes lined the roads.
The views from the top are spectacular.
You can see most of the island and across the gulf of Napoli.
We hiked back down to Fontana and set out to find some lunch.
We went to a pretty average restaurant that had the gumption to charge 4 euros for non-existent service and 3.5 for a pizza. We were joined by a friendly local though.
We resolved only to get takeaway pizza for the rest of our time in Italy.
On our last day we headed to picturesque Sant’Angelo for a dip.
The water was such a glorious colour I was pretty much forced to take a million photos. Sorry.
It’s quite amazing just how sardined Europeans are prepared to get to sit on beach. And how much they are prepared to fork out! Guess how much an umbrella with two sun lounges cost?
If you guessed €20 you’re wrong. It was €30.
No way José. If you keep walking towards the headland and onto the rock you will find a free place to sit.
We stayed until a German family decided to set up camp atop us (WHY?!) and then bade farewell to the ocean for a while. Sad times.
Pistachio and chocolate gelati helped.
While waiting for the bus we had some of the most amazing bruschetta I’ve ever had. I feel like a can still smell how fresh and fragrant that basil was.
Before grabbing the ferry on our final day we had time for one more pizza. Take away of course. We learn from our mistakes.
More Italy to come, sorry for my absence.