Many times, at this time of the year especially, we will often hear our coworkers and friends say out loud: there will be nothing stopping me from going to Napoli and Capri for the weekend this year! Nothing wrong with that of course, but many seem to forget that, in addition to enchanting Capri, the Gulf of Naples also hosts two more little islands that are definitely worth a visit, namely, Ischia and Procida. You will need about 4 days to do the archipelago some justice, and visit the main sights without rushing. Grab your straw hat and your sunglasses, because your boat is leaving the port of Naples already!
Capri, timeless elegance
We already extensively covered Europe’s most glamorous island last year, with a post on the best places to visit there. Let us add a few places to the list this year. First of all — this is an insider tip — when you get there, make sure you have a walk to via Botteghe, where you will be able to buy local items, and you will enjoy truly amazing views, all with hardly any tourists in sight. After your stroll, go have lunch at Le Grottelle, a lovely restaurant located in caves in the cliffs: have your lunch al fresco on their beautiful panoramic terrace. A few meters from the restaurant, don’t miss the Grotta di Matromania, a cavern hosting Roman remains that are still in good condition, and whose structure is still rather intact. Finally, if you can, stay the night in Capri, and enjoy the most beautiful sunset you can imagine… But no sleeping in, because the ferry to Ischia leaves very early!
Ischia, beaches and luxury thermal baths
After only 30 minutes on a speedboat, you will get to Ischia, the island of wellness and natural beauty. Ischia is a favorite of Neapolitan locals, who often escape the city’s hustle and bustle in summer to make their way to this island, whose price range is definitely more affordable than those in Capri. This island in particular has a lot of history, and plenty of historical sites: make sure you visit the marvelous Aragonese Castle, which is basically on the seashore, and so beautiful it looks like it is straight out of a movie set; after that, make your way to Borgo di Sant’Angelo, a characteristic fishermen’s village where you can have a chat with locals, which will help you understand the area a little better. For lunch, visit Le Cantine Pietratorcia, near Forio, just a few steps away from the harbor: they offer fare from the land and from the sea, and make sure you don’t miss the local dish, coniglio all’ischitana (rabbit in the style of Ischia.)
Now you will be ready to relax a little, and while you make your way through the magical landscapes of Barano, you will run into the Sorgente di Nitrodi, a thermal bath famous for the therapeutic properties of its waters. It is actually pretty easy to find quality hot springs in Ischia, but Barano is definitely a favorite of ours. Other notable places that deserve a visit: Monte Epomeo, Lacco Ameno, Casamicciola and Serrara Fontana, each location with a lot of individual character. In the evening, have dinner at Il Saturnino, where you will be enjoying fresh fish, caught on the same morning.
And that is not all: Ischia is also the island of good wine, so make sure you have some of that with your dinner, choosing from white wine, like Biancolella, or the red Pere ‘e Palumno, both typical local wines. The following day, before you leave for Procida, enjoy Ischia’s amazing beaches: among our favorites are Maronti beach, in the bay of Barano, and the wonderful beach of Citara.
Procida, untouched nature and exclusive locations
Procida is most definitely the lesser known island in the Gulf of Naples, which is also why it is the most exclusive. The things that will strike you most when you arrive will be the untouched nature you see, and the numerous fishermen villages that dot the coast. But let’s get on to sharing our selection of places to go: visit Marina di Chiaiolella and make a stop in Punta Pizzaco, whose crystal-clear waters are awaiting you for a dive. Once you dried your skin in the sun, it will be time to explore the mainland, and discover the city center. Start from the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo, and stop by at the Belvedere dei Cannoni, from which you will be able to admire the location portrayed in the 1994 Oscar-nominated feature film Il Postino, set in Procida. Can you remember it? Move on to La Conchiglia to enjoy an unforgettable lunch on the beach: this place can be reached from the seashore, or by walking down the 182 stairs that lead you down to the bay in which the restaurant is located. And since Procida also hosts some of the most prosperous lemon groves in the region, also taste the island’s best granita at La Graziella‘s legendary stall. If you don’t know Procida it might be hard to understand, but once you discover it, you will never want granita from anywhere else!