I have just come back from 6 wonderful days on the island of Ischia (south of Italy, just in front of Naples).
After all the cold, rainy weather we've had this year I was seriously in need of some serious amount of sun, heat, sea air and fresh, wholesome food. And boy did I go to the right place!
My family is originally from Puglia and as a child we spent quite a few summers in a house we had in Santa Maria which, looking at the boot shape that Italy has, would be the very pointy heel.
Now Ischia is not in Puglia but there's something about sea towns in the south that connects them all.
Being able to wake up at 6am to see the sun rise and feeling the already warm breeze, olive trees (the one thing that makes me feel most at home and gives me that warm feeling in my heart) surrounding you everywhere you go, huge bright yellow lemons just hanging from trees in almost every garden of people's houses together with wonderful fig trees (figs are right up there with sweet juicy watermelon as my favourite fruits).
And the people.
You see here in England, Italians are known for being very loud when they talk so I often have to contain myself and use a more appropriate tone of voice (or as my friend Gordon loves to say, my inside voice).
But in Italy and especially in the south, you can have entire conversations with someone who's at the window on the first floor or on the other side of the street or just loudly greet or say goodbye to the greengrocer selling wonderful vegetables at the side of the street.
There's something incredibly liberating about it and being able to do that for 6 whole days made me very, very happy.
Anyway, the reason I'm writing this post is that during this time in Ischia, me and my boyfriend have done a pretty incredible amount of eating and I thought I'd let you know what my favourite places were should you head there in the future.
I know you can easily get a guide in Waterstones and read that, but I always found that word of mouth through family and friends has led me to the best food when on holiday in a new place.
Da Ciccio, Ischia Porto
We have tried a few ice cream parlours and this was definitely the king of them all!
Great variety of flavours, lovely texture,delicious whipped cream and ridiculously cheap.
But the one thing I HAVE to let you know about is a flavour called Regno Delle Due Sicilie
( Kingdom of the two Sicilies, which before the Italian unification was the union of the Kingdom of Naples and the Spanish Bourbon Kingdom of Sicily).
The best ingredients of both kingdoms have been put together in a Pistacchio flavour with Almonds, Hazelnuts and pieces of puff pastry.
It was made as an experimental flavour but it was such a hit that it's now one of the resident flavours and my personal favourite.
They also have an beautiful lemon sorbet which is incredibly refreshing after a meal.
You'll also find food and pastries in this bar but it's the ice cream we kept coming back for.
BEST FISH RESTAURANT
Aglio Olio e Pomodoro, Ischia Ponte
When I go back to Italy, especially in summer, the first thing I order is a fresh fish dish (what a mouthful!) so as soon as we got to Ischia and having walked by small fishing boats on a stroll around town, I knew I had to find some fresh delicious fish to try.
On our search, I was a little disappointed to find out, looking at the menus, that quite a few restaurants had many fish products from frozen.It made no sense to me.
To be honest I wasn't sure about this restaurant at first because from the outside it looked so pretty, colourful and perfectly set up that I thought it might end up being a tourist trap.
But we decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and soon found out we hit the jackpot!
Every single item on the menu is absolutely fresh and our waiter was very helpful and knowledgeable and, depending on the fish we were looking at on the menu, he suggested many different ways we could have it cooked.
Portions were always abundant and prices affordable.One to visit.
We came to this restaurant on three different occasions and every time we left happy and satisfied.
Here are the three delicious dishes we tried:
1) Tubettoni Mari e Monti
Small fat pasta tubes with mussels, clams, whole shrimps, octopus and squid dressed with a creamy and delicate white wine sauce, fresh parsley and chilli. Just incredible.
2)Octopus Casserole (Polpi Veraci in Casseruola).
Fresh, tender, mouthwatering octopus pieces in a light sauce made with fresh tomatoes, parsley and chilli plus fresh croutons which were fabulous just soaked in this sauce with a bit of octopus on top. Yum.
Folded pizza filled with ricotta and cured ham. Feedback from my boyfriend who ordered it : BUONO! (really good).
RISTORANTE PIZZERIA PIROZZI
Via Seminario 51, 80077 Isola D'Ischia
This is, as the name already revealed, both a restaurant and a pizzeria so you have your pick.
We had pizza both times, HUGE pizzas. Really flavourful and cheap.About 5-6 euros for one.
On top of that, we were offered two bruschettas on the house both times.
And as we went around 1.30pm when the town is deserted as everyone is off for a pisolino (afternoon nap) we have always managed to sit net to the window looking out to the sea. Not bad ah?
Their homemade Tiramisu' looked incredible but after antipasti and pizza we literally couldn't handle anything more but if any of you should go and try it please let me know how good it is!
Right. This is where you want to head if you want dessert. You really do.
This place is an institution here in Ischia and yes, you can find good pastries everywhere, but these are out of this world. We kept coming back for Profiteroles and Cannoncino (i call it cannoncione because it's huge and it basically a horizontal cone of sweet puff pastry filled with custardy cream).
This bar has also a pizzeria attached to it and pizzas are very good too.
But guys please, if you go to Ischia, this has to be you first sweet stop.
LOUNGE BAR IL CAPPUCCINO
Via Porto 72
This is where you want to go after dinner to have cocktails or maybe before dinner for an Aperitivo.
Brillant location in Ischia Porto, Riva Destra on the harbour overlooking beautiful yachts and the bay at night.
Amazing Cocktails and attention to details (lots of snacks to munch on while you drink) in this buzzing bar.
I had a non alcholic Copacabana (filled with seriously juicy colourful pieces of fruit) and Patrick had a Black Russian which he very much enjoyed.
With our cocktails we were also served crisps, olives and coconuts pieces.
And one more thing...
I was desperate for some fresh juicy figs (I'm addicted) and the only place I found them was on the street
(Via Rivaz at the corner with Via Roma), where this supercute old lady brings fresh fruits and vegetables every Tuesday and Saturday from 8am till 1pm.
She's so sweet and a lot of fun and everything is delicious and cheap.
Go see her and fill up your basket! Fresh fruit is always a great snack to take to the beach with you.xxx