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  • I recently returned from Ischia, a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, where I stayed at the newly-renovated Mezzatorre Hotel. I absolutely fell in love with both the island, known for its mineral-rich thermal waters, and the property, whose every last detail was restored under the brilliant eye of Marie-Louise Sciò of the Pelicano hotel group. Ischia feels authentically Italian in a way that many islands along the nearby Amalfi coast no longer do. It still feels preserved, untouched by mainstream commercial retail. Here as the sun sets twinkling over the medieval castle Castello Aragonese, built on volcanic rock, homeowners can be seen drying their laundry out of the window and organizing gargantuan lemons and other fruits onto a rustic cart, creating the quaintest fruit stands.

    The Mezzatorre property is nestled within a private bay and spreads itself out vertically between the sky and the Tyrrhenian Sea. You can experience a bird’s-eye view from the 16th century clock tower but you can also walk your way down stairs that snake around the property to the pool, passing perfectly-perched peach umbrellas and pine trees that feel both ancient and sculptural. But that’s not all—a few steps further down you can reach the rugged coastline, dotted with its wild vegetation, without ever having to get into a car. When looking up from that deep yet clear blue water you behold the fortress-like building majestically towering over you. 

    The terracotta palette of the textured structures took my breath away at every turn and seemed to mimic the setting sun at golden hour – the perfect time for an apertivo, one Italy’s best traditions if you ask me! For a different experience of the immaculate surroundings, at the intersection of nature and luxury, is the thermal spa. Here you can hike, swim, or relax and rejuvenate. Our family also took a day trip to Capri on a private boat, which I highly recommend—the waters and coastline are unlike anything I have experienced.

    Finally, and notably, is the food. Both the more formal restaurant and the poolside restaurant did not disappoint. Each prepares classic Neapolitan cuisine. (Don’t miss the spaghetti pomodoro.) The property was the perfect place to relax with my family, offering wild beauty, incredible services, and elegant aesthetics—while being completely unpretentious. The food, design, and details were simply unparalleled. She kinda had it all!

    My highlights from the activities and myriad meals from Mezzatorre and Ischia, by land and by sea, are all catalogued below.

    How charming is the big-top style entrance to the breakfast room!

Ischia, Italy

  • Stay: Mezzatorre

    The rooms at Mezzatorre are well-appointed, beautifully and newly designed, and the bedding is super cozy. Amenities include in-room snacks and magazines. The mags are highly-curated, with titles like Domino, Cereal, The Wall Street Journal, and T Magazine. Staff is incredibly accommodating and helpful. Do not miss aperitivo hour—my favorite time of day. It consisted of sipping on a spritz while seated high above the glistening waters as the sun set in its majestic golden hue. The shop is chock-full of designer yet seaside-appropriate sunglasses, apparel, and footwear, including a recent collab with Birkenstock—rattan-style!

  • Relax: Mezzatorre Thermal Spa

    Taking full advantage of the natural splendor of its surroundings, Mezzatorre has direct access to Ischia’s thermal springs—you can experience them straight from the source in the hotel spa and wellness center. As they flow from the earth, they bubble in at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and thanks to their alkalinity and richness of minerals, the springs are said to have healing properties for skin and respiration. The spa offers an array of massage and beauty treatment options with highly-trained therapists. Book one and not only will you enjoy the experience itself, you but you will also gain access to the sauna, thermal baths, and sea water pools free of charge.

  • Explore: Boat Excursion

    I would highly recommend traversing the islands by boat. We booked an eight-hour excursion and explored both Ischia and Capri. You can choose from a private speed motorboat or a gozzo “tarantella”, which is a typical Ischian wood boat, and the service will pick you up directly from the hotel’s private bay. Fees range from 9oo euros for stays on Ischia to 1500 euros for travels to other islands like Capri, Positano, Sorrento, or Amalfi.

  • Eat: Il Bracconiere

    Everyone told me I must try Ischia’s famous coniglio all’ischitana (Ischian rabbit) at Il Bracconiere, a restaurant situated at the top of the island on Mount Epomeo in Serrara Fontana. You must order in advance when you book your table. The menu offers mainly meat dishes, which may be counterintuitive on an island, but a welcome change from the coastal seafood, pasta, and pizza specialities. And the views are spectacular.

  • Eat: Il Giardino Ristorante

    The boat ride alone is worth the visit to Il Giardino Ristorante. You depart from Ischia town during the most beautiful time of day as the sun is stretching its way down the cobblestone streets, and head to a port. Here you hop into a water taxi which takes you toward the medieval island, under a teeny bridge, and past Castello Aragonese, until you reach a long dock situated in Cartaromana Bay. The bay is populated by a mini island as well as the actual restaurant, part of Giardino Eden hotel. Two Romeo-and-Juliette-like balconies flank the restaurant and this is where we dined, out over the sea. The freshest catch of the day, crudo and mussels, filled our bellies as the sun set. The boat ride back to town, in the dark, was even more magical! From start to sundown, the entire experience is very romantic.

  • Eat: Ristorante Emanuela

    The hot springs and the sands underneath Ischia have been used for ages as a cooking source, back when heat and freshwater were scarce. At a few places on Ischia you can still find this ancient method of cooking food. At a local restaurant, Ristorante Emanuela, the practice is still quite popular. The site is accessible only by golf cart and is perched high on the beach. To prepare food, the chef wraps it in layers of plastic, foil, and cloth. Then these packages are buried in the sand, marked by the rope that sticks out of the earth. After cooking for about an hour, the parcels are taken from earth to table and enjoyed. It’s an ancient way to cook meals but it works, draws in a crowd, and most importantly: the food tastes delicious.

  • Eat: La Baia, Pool Restaurant

    There really is no reason to leave Mezzatorre at all, but this is especially true during the day. Here you have the pool, the sea, and the poolside restaurant, La Baia. The latter offers a traditional Campagnia menu including tagliata with cherry tomatoes and arugula, the best vongole I have ever encountered, and spaghetti pomodoro that I will dream about forever. Cuisine is hyper-local and filled with flavor—the wines are imbued with the mineral taste of the volcanic soil in which the grapes are grown.

  • Sip: Bar La Torre

    The seduction of the Mezzatorre hotel lies in the way it showcases the raw splendor of its surroundings. This is certainly the case at the property’s bar, Bar La Torre, situated right at the water’s edge. Come, lounge under the shade of an umbrella on the white cushioned and curved patio chairs, and soak up views of San Montano Bay’s rich blue waters as you sip a spritz.

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