Islanders at Heart

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Islanders at Heart

Category : Seeing the World

We took the Ferry across to Ischia, out of Naples, on Saturday morning and started on our beach-bum tans while waiting for the boat. Whew! It was a hot day.

Ischia from the marinaThe island greeted us with tiny busy beaches and empty restaurants, so we went for lunch…

antisocial writersElena was asleep at this point. While we waited for our pizza I kept on with the thing I’d been writing on the ferry. And Louis did some writing too. Poor Luuk, surrounded by all these antisocial artists.

After lunch we found our bus, and then our hotel, and set out for the pool, or did we nap first? I forget. Anyway, those were the events. We hadn’t pre-booked to have dinner at the hotel so went out late in the afternoon to explore the town and find some food.

We found a playground but many of the restaurants weren’t serving yet and the one we chose served our pasta a good half hour after everything else had been eaten. Bad form! Kids were losing it. We booked dinners at the hotel every night after that and even though they weren’t always early we could at least go straight to bed after (and a few times put Elena down before dessert).

We had a ground floor room, which was particularly handy for letting the kids nap. We could sit in the lobby or even go out to the pool and check on the kids easily (don’t worry, we did so often!)

Sunday was a bit of a mess. Luuk was running out of clean clothes and ventured to town to find a laundromat. And then came the rain. I took the kids to the indoor pool for a while then returned to the room for a nap. Luuk came back, a while later, drenched and unsuccessful. If there was a laundromat in Forio he hadn’t found it, or it had been closed (Sunday afternoon, after all). So we did hand washing. Lots and lots of hand washing.

Monday was better. The sun shone. We walked down to the shore for lunch and found a restaurant with this view:

restaurant on the water, ischia Not bad, eh?

And then there was the food.

best fisherman's basket EVERThis was my lunch. Best fisherman’s basket the world over. Go on. Prove me wrong.

I did learn how to cut and de-bone tiny fish while I ate it. Educational as well as delicimoso! (Not italian, just, um, blythian?)

on the boardwalkElena and I, on the boardwalk (boards aside).

We walked down to the town again, on the hunt for singlets for Luuk, but it was siesta-time. Bad luck.

The next day we went to Ischia – the town named for the island. The rest of the time we were in/near Forio, another town on the island, Ischia. Confused. My work here is done…

The roads on Ischia (the whole island) are narrow, have no footpaths, and are really best for scooters. But there are busses, which was how we got around, and they tended to be packed full. I suppose there’s a point where it gets safer because if there’s a crash you actually cannot fall over. Anyway… to Ischia we went, on the bus, and arrived safe and sweaty.

off to the castle aragonese

Our main goal here was the Aragonese Castle, which is on a big rock off the edge of the town.

Louis and Luuk walking to the castle

Walking is way more fun on a wall, didn’t you know?

The castle has a fascinating history, but I won’t go into that in great depth. There was a nunnery up there, suffice to say, and when the nuns died their bodies would go into this crypt:
where the nuns went after death

They would be propped on these chairs and as they decomposed all the bits would drain into vessels beneath. The bones would eventually be all that remained and these were buried in mass-graves – all part of a very strict and rather bleak religious perspective.

dome on aragonese castle, ischia

The castle was both fascinating and beautiful, occasionally at the same time. There’s a cafe, here in the gardens, beside one of the many churches and the old nunnery.

climbing the aragonese castle

 

Exploring the rock/castle, a bit slower with the kids, and hotter with that hottie on my chest.

church missing its dome, aragonese castle

On the far side, another church, of which only the shell remains.

ischia in blue

For all there was to see up on the rock, there was plenty to enjoy in the view alone.

the world is my jungle gym

To Louis, the world is his jungle gym (hey, at least he’s not climbing on some two thousand year old rocks… wait, that was just before we took the photo…)

elena and I, olive terrace

At the top, on the Olive terrace, Elena (and me, if I’m honest) getting very sleep after lunch.

ischiaWe were pretty worn out by the time we finished exploring the castle, and then there was the trip back on the mad, packed busses. And doesn’t it look like rain? Well, that’s because it’s going to let rip. We ended up walking a few kms of the way home because we missed a bus (too full).

The next day was properly lazy. We did nothing, venturing out only for lunch a short walk away. The restaurant we chose was right on the beach and a little paddle after lunch was not enough, so the following day we went to the beach for the whole morning.

Luuk and Elena, post-swim

Elena, my brave girl, and her beach babe of a dad.

pizza place, on the beach, forioLunch! The same place, ah sure, why not? When you find a good pizza…

I had a lazy day next, but Luuk and Louis climbed the volcano, Epomeo of hollow-earth fame. They found lots of lizards and blackberries and gated-off tunnels (presumably where someone has gone a digging for the centre of the earth). They returned to find Elena and I well tanned and rested and I think I’d read a whole nother book at that point. I read about eight that week, and wrote a bit too. I even did postcards, though they didn’t go in a mailbox till we were back home. Bien sûr.

On our last day we went to Giardini La Mortella, incredible gardens which came highly recommended.

water lillies, with the kids

Luuk and the Kids looking for frogs.

Louis exploring giardini la mortella

Louis exploring the gardens.

lilly pads and fountains at giardini la mortella

Giant lily pads, and crazy fountains.

aviary at giardini la mortella

The aviary.

teapot bird houses at giardini la mortella

Teapots for bird houses, why the heck not?

gardens are for lovers

Art on the walls of the Temple of the Sun. It’s the eyes that get me.

drinking fountain, giardini la mortella

The drinking fountain, which Louis insisted on turning on/off and drinking from without aid. I didn’t realise how complicated it was to drink from one’s own hands, but ’tis.

frangiapanis at giardini la mortella

Frangiapanis!

louis on the turtle at the temple of the sunLouis on the turtle, in the temple of the sun.

We had fancy tea in fancy pots, with a light lunch at the tea house, then the kids crashed and we returned to the hotel for swims and naps and dinner and bed…

The next day we did the bus, ferry, bus, plane, train and walk back to our little apartment in Antony, just in time for the madness of France’s la rentrée… which I’ll tell you all about in my next post.