Largest of the islands in the Bay of Naples, Ischia (pronounced Iss-kee-ah) rises out of the sea in a cone-shaped series of pointy green hummocks. German, Scandinavian and British tourists flock here in large numbers during peak season, attracted by its charming beach resorts and thermal springs. Although its reputation has always been poorer than Capri’s – it is perhaps not so dramatically beautiful – you can at least be sure of being alone in exploring parts of the mountainous interior, and La Mortella, the exotic garden cultivated by the British composer William Walton and his widow Susana, is an unmissable attraction. Indeed, if you’re after some beach lounging, good walking and lively nightlife within striking distance of Naples and the rest of the bay, it might be just the place.
The island is fairly large and has some two-dozen towns, villages and hamlets, spread around in a ring, with the cone of the dormant volcano in the centre, and the more reasonable order for a visit is anticlockwise, given the way the towns are clustered.