A Weekend On The Emerald Isle, Amalfi Coast
If you are planning to visit the Amalfi Coast, whether on a mad-cap sight-seeing spree or a low-key long-term sojourn, do yourself a favor: don’t miss one of the best places just off the daredevil cliffs of this remarkable Italian coastline – Ischia. A well-kept secret amongst Hollywood stars, musicians, and their fans, this volcanic island is an absolute must for anyone wanting a full-on experience of local culture blended with international flair.

When planning your visit, a good rule of thumb is at least 3 days, since the island is deceptively larger and more diverse than most people realize from just a quick glance at the map. Ischia’s terrain is more or less mountainous, with beautiful beaches on all sides, so give yourself time to explore the main roads and the back roads, for all of them hold treasures just waiting to be discovered. Here are some ideas to get you started during your first weekend on the “Emerald Isle” – but if your schedule affords a longer stay, DO IT. Skip the hotels altogether and opt for an Amalfi coast villa – all of them are charming and well-looked after and local hosts simply love to meet everyone who comes to the island, so you’ll feel like a celebrity just by stopping in for a visit!

Most boats from Napoli (or other places like Sorrento and Capri) stop first at the Port of Ischia, the largest one for the island. The town of Ischia has many charming attractions, including an idyllic stroll through winding cobblestone streets, dotted with designer boutiques, gelato stands, artist studios and bobbing boats as you skirt the shoreline. Head towards the Aragon Castle for a breathtaking view of some seriously chivalrous architecture – the castle has been destroyed in battles and consequently rebuilt numerous times, and views from the top are one of the highlights of an Ischian vacation.

Top spots around the island include Lacco Ameno, home to the international film and music festival that welcomes the likes of the Italian siren Monica Belucci and Scottish hunk Gerard Butler every summer; the historical town of Forio, home of towers, tiny labyrinth-like streets and pirate folklore; open-air hot springs at the Bay of Sorgeto; hiking trails and horseback riding to the top of the volcanic peak (Mt Epomeo); quaint fishing villages like Sant’Angelo; and of course the countless beaches like San Maronti and the ubiquitous luxury spas like Negombo where you can splash around in pools, relax in thermal baths, get a massage and swim around the private cove... And the best word of advice? Soak up as much sun and surf as you can - you never know, you just might find buried treasure!