Several islands are located within a short ferry-ride from Naples, Italy; and Capri, Ischia, and Ponza are the most popular. In choosing which island to visit, it’s helpful to know their personalities because each is unique.
To begin, the islands can all be reached from either of Naples’s ferry terminals. Molo Beverello is the larger terminal, located on the eastern section of Naples’s waterfront, while Mergellina is the smaller terminal, though it is still quite large. Ferries leave on the hour year-round for the islands. It takes an hour to get to the islands, making it possible to visit for only an afternoon. Tickets are conveniently sold at the terminals from rows of booths operated by different ferry companies. Advanced ticketing is only necessary during June-August. Otherwise, tickets can be purchased the day of your trip.
Italy’s islands are more than legendary. Not only do they provide the setting for ancient myths, they have the ancient ruins to back them up. Take Villa Jovis, the palace built and inhabited by Emperor Tiberius who ruled ancient Rome from 14 AD to 37 AD. History says that Tiberius ruled Rome from this palace for ten years because he was afraid of being overthrown. The betrayal of Julius Caesar had taken place less than a hundred years prior, and Tiberius feared the same fate. He hid away in Villa Jovis, and the truth of what happened there is more legend than fact. The gigantic palace was built at the top of Capri’s steep cliffs, and writers during the time claim that Tiberius threw his enemies off the cliffs. This famous death sentence is known as “Tiberius’ Jump”. But, is this fact or fiction? While visiting the island of Capri, you get to decide.You can wander among the palace ruins (admission, 2 euros) while gazing at the distant coast of the mainland where the city of Naples thrives.
To American travelers, Capri is the best-known island because of its famous ruins (including Villa Jovis) and the Blue Grotto. Hiking is wonderful on all three islands, and The Villa Jovis can be reached by walking (45 minutes) from the ferry terminal on Capri. The island is home to many wealthy people from all over the world who celebrate their exquisite mansions that peer over the island’s impenetrable cliffs. Some of the largest yachts you’ll ever see will be moored in the bay. Accordingly, the restaurants on Capri offer the best Neapolitan seafood dishes imaginable, featuring only the freshest local seafood. This is clearly the island to visit for Roman ruins, people watching, good food, and great hiking.
Ischia, the largest island off of Naples’s shore, is less popular among American travelers, though it receives the most visitors each year of all the islands. It is a noted spa location with natural thermal baths bubbling up all over as a result of the region’s considerable volcanic activity. Mt. Vesuvius can always be viewed on the not-so-distant horizon. This is the island to visit for a vacation that focuses on relaxation and pampering. Its beaches are world class.
Ponza is the most quiet island of them all (though some of the lesser-known islands are even more restful) and this is its primary attraction. This is the island to visit if you want serenity and solitude. Its towns have remained practically untouched since the 1700s, and its seaside hikes are often deserted.
Whichever island you choose, there are some things that they all have in common. They all feature beautiful coastal hikes, staggering cliffs, and the gentle waves of the Bay of Naples.
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com