So now it comes to the final post about our time in Ischia (although there's one more day to go in Rome), but as I begin writing it's a bit daunting to think about putting the experience into words. I really did end up connecting with Ischia a lot and finding so many things about it that I liked and was drawn to. Initially we'd thought about taking a few side day trips from the island during the week to Pompeii, Vesuvius, Amalfi, and maybe Capri. But other than the 15 min boat ride to Procida we ended up dropping all the other trips....I just didn't' want to leave Ischia.
When we were arriving by ferry on the very first day I remember wondering (and even discussing a bit with Chris) some questions like: "Do people get the feeling of being water-locked / cabin-feverish here on the island?" "Will I feel claustrophobic?" "Does having to take a boat to leave/arrive make you feel a bit trapped?", etc etc. Because I have been on and island where I wondered if I could actually handle living there because the feeling of isolation would start to be too much to handle.
...But almost within the first hour of being in Ischia I understood why people live here, why people travel here, and think I announced out loud that I wanted to stay put during the week without getting on the ferry again to go somewhere else. I felt that Ischia had enough things to show me.
And it did.
Some of the most beautiful scenery. Amazingly nice and courteous people who we saw over and over go out of their way to help, offer patience, converse. A feeling of a tight community. Overall quite clean and safe. Not too much English. Far enough from Naples not to feel like it at all, but close enough to get to if needed via a convenient ferry.
And festivals. Oh the festivals. In the week we were in Ischia, there were 3-4 festivals. We tried going to the grocery store a couple days to find it closed or closed extremely early - the reason: another festival. "But...wasn't there just a festival yesterday?" "Sí. Pero c'e' un altra oggi." (Yes, but there's another one today). Church bells would ring simultaneously to the tune of "Ave Maria" and we happened on a few random processions of people walking down the streets with songs, candles, and flowers, plus the churches we noticed were a lot more full than normal. One night while eating dinner in the outside terrace of a restaurant, we heard yet another procession and asked our server what was going on. He said it was the Festa della Madonnina, and that May was the month of the entire Festa della Madonna, and since it was the last day of the month there was extra celebration. Other nights we saw various churches shooting fireworks into the sky from the island and the mainland of Naples. These, we were told, are festivals of various saints depending on whom the church is dedicated to or which saint is the patron of the village. We were also in Italy for one of the biggest national holidays, the Festa della Repubblica on June 2.
On our last day there, we got up early, packed our bags and said goodbye to the Castello Aragonese before catching the first bus up the road to Ischia Porto where we departed by ferry. There were a lot of open seats on the aliscafo that day as it was the first boat leaving harbor in the morning, and still quite early. We grabbed an aisle towards the back and had it all to ourselves, and I watched the island disappear from the foggy windows dripping with condensation as the sun came up...
...and knew I'd be back.
to be continued...