Arriving in Ischia for the first time, what you will be most surprised by is the diversity of an island that, as many other famous tourist locations, is often trapped in reductive stereotypes. If you expect mandolins, lemon trees and sfogliatelle you will find them all, but you won't be disappointed if you wish for different attractions as well. Ischia has a millenary history and a lively and vital present, transmitted by the warmth and beauty of its towns. Indeed the island includes many little towns and small villages, each of which possesses its own personality. Ischia Porto is the arrival dock for those arriving from the mainland: long tree-lined avenues, with a lush vegetation of lemon trees and palm trees, make up the most recent area, whereas in the ancient village the shape of the Castello Aragonese stands proud. Casamicciola hosts the botanical garden La Mortella, created at the end of the 19th century by the Englishman Sir Walton. Forio conserves, as well as a remarkable Santuario della Madonna del Soccorso in its panoramic position, some other precious churches, but its beauty is to be discovered strolling along the labyrinth of little alleys in the old part. Sant'Angelo, finally, with its colourful houses and fishermen boats, is possibly the best place on the island to enjoy a breathtaking sunset.
Ischia's great environmental and tourist resource is its thermal water. The many virtues of the thermal sources the island offers anywhere, both on the seaside and on the heights, have indeed been known ever since the Roman age. Today the well-being centres use them to offer treatments that include both health and beauty. During the summer you can also try out the open air thermal parks, lush gardens you can stroll in dipping into pools with different properties (the most famous ones are on the beach of Forio, the Poseidon gardens).
Today thermal cures are real and true therapies, with medical supervisions, although even in antique times whoever soaked in the vapours of the Ischia caves knew that the pleasure of curing the body was combined with the advantage of enjoying a medicine. Already Strabone and Plinio, two medical-scientific authorities of the time, celebrated the therapeutic properties of Ischia's waters. This is all owing to the geological history of the island, which through its complex volcanic origin possess a hydrothermal heritage that is one of the richest in the world. On a total surface of about forty-two square kilometres there are 69 groups (fields) of fumaroles and 29 hydrothermal sources.
Life in Ischia is similar to any crowded tourist location, however time and seasons are divided, today as well as a hundred years ago, by ceremonies and religious festivals. A special mention goes to the Palio di Sant'Anna, which starts the 26th of July, and Settembre sul Sagrato, in the first week of September.