An Ischia roundtrip by coach
There are two coaches driving all the way round Ischia. One goes left (along the northern coast to the west) and is called "CS" for circum sinistra. The other one goes clockwise to the right (circum destra). They go frequently and at least every half hour. If you go all the way round the island, it takes about 1˝ hour.
For us it is a great way to see the island, and we get on a Circum Destra a few minutes past 8. Before long we are driving through mountain villages.
Click to enlarge
The clouds are low and you cannot see far in the grey mist, but it is incredibly lush and green. Palms, bananas, vines, flowers, prickly pears, and pines - everything seems to grow in abundance. It is no coincidence that Ischia is called l'isola verde, the green island.
The bus climbs up to Buonopane, Fontana and other villages. We sense an abyss to our left, but the fog hides the probably magnificent view to the south coast, until we suddenly see Sant'Angelo with its rocky outcrop far below.
The coach climbs downhill and stops outside the small town of Sant'Angelo. We get off and walk downwards until we get to the town. It lies in a picturesque setting by the foot of the mountain. It looks idyllic, but is a genuine tourist trap.
Click to enlarge
Espressi and cornetti at a bar push us 8 euro closer to poverty. There is a small harbour with fishing boats and yachts between the town and its rocky outcrop. There is also a strip of beach. It is all very pretty, but souvenir shops and boutiques have replaced original charm. The kiosk has all the leading German newspapers.
We go back to the bus stop and enter coach number 1 bound for Forio on the west coast.
Many tourists stay in Forio, but seen from the bus it doesn't seem attractive. There are tonnes of ugly tourist signs, and the houses aren't pretty.
There must be more to Forio than meets the eye from a coach, but before we have made up our mind, the coach is out of town heading for Lacco Ameno.
Lacco Ameno and German tourists
Lacco Ameno is located on Ischia's north coast to the west. It is an old town with thermal baths, and it looks nice.
Click to enlarge
We get off by the harbour and walk along the seafront to the centre. There are the usual souvenir shops, but the small town seems relaxed and a bit sleepy. Some are sunbathing on a small beach.
Helle plays the sustainable tourist and buys a bracelet with small glass hearts, and then we settle at a pavement café with sea view. The chairs are comfortable, and a Coke will be nice to quench the thirst.
There are many German tourists in Ischia, and this has an effect. For instance I went to the counter and ordered our Cokes in Italian with hardly a trace of an accent, after which the silly woman said: "Ich bringe". I didn't say: "Zwei Coca Cola, bitte" - did I?
There are also signs in German. I went to the toilet and saw a sign asking you to switch off the light. In Italian it says: "Spegnere la luce" with a German command below: "Abschalten".
I don't know why Ischia is so popular with the Germans. I haven't seen that many German tourists elsewhere in Italy. Maybe the spelling makes them feel at home - "sch".
Back to Ischia Porto
We get on the first coach to Ischia Porto. On the way we pass through another town, Casamicciola Terme, which is also known for its thermal baths.
It looks pretty with green areas and old houses. However all the houses are less than 126 years old, because July 28th 1883 the town was hit and totally destroyed by a massive earthquake. The epicentre was right below the town.
In Ischia Porto we buy bread in a mini market just behind the bus station, and then it is time for lunch and siesta. While preparing lunch the doorbell rings. Is it okay to change the towels? Yes of course, go ahead!
At the hairdresser's in Ischia
I need a haircut. My hair is too long and unruly, and it is too hot for this climate, so at four I go to the hairdresser's in Via Roma.
There are six men waiting, so I head for a waiting position on a chair. "Prego", says one of the barbers. He cannot be talking to me, but then he repeats more firmly: "Prego!" and with a sign he tells me to get closer.
I am a bit confused, because where I come from you usually wait for your turn, but there is no mistake so I sit down in the barber's chair and mumble something about 5 - 6 weeks since the last time. He doesn't ask how I want my hair cut, but just begins.
There is noise from a television in the back, and suddenly I realise that the other men aren't waiting for a haircut - they are watching a bicycle race with Lan-Se Armstrrrong and Ivan Basso. Maybe their wives kicked them out.
I have taken off my glasses and cannot follow the hairdresser's progress visually, but I can feel that he puts a lot of effort into making a parting. Usually the parting comes by itself, when the hair gets too long and impairs my vision.
Finally he begins working with a round brush and a hairdryer. He pulls and shapes and blows, and from his concentration I sense that this is the creative climax.
With my glasses back on I see that I no longer have a mane shaped by headwind. No, I have got a sculpture, and the parting could have been made with a sword. I pay 12 euro and leave the salon and the bicycle race.
On the way to the supermarket I feel a bit naked and not quite my own self, but as I realise that no one turns his head to watch, I gradually feel more at ease.
When I get home, Helle assures me that the sculpture is nice. There is nothing like a loyal partner.
Evening stroll and aperitif
We go for an evening passegiata to the harbour. The sun is low and pours its golden light over the water and the houses. Many are waiting for a bus at the station.
We return to Bar delle Rose for our aperitif, and the waiter is clearly pleased to see us again. Here we can sit on the first row and watch the pavement scene.
Families walk their evening passegiata, and across the street four old men on a bench are designing a better world when not distracted by pretty girls passing by.
Some immigrant workers sit at the table behind me. They are drinking coffee and talking an incomprehensible language. It could be Albanian. As the sun sets, the waiter rolls up the sunblind.
Monster steak at Ristorante Ciro
We dine again at Ristorante Ciro. We have been pleased so far and haven't seen any better alternative in this town.
After bruschette we have a monster steak - a gigantic T-bone steak cut in two. It is grilled to perfection, tender and delicious. Strawberries for dessert.
There are many guests tonight, and we seem to be the only tourists (or non-Italians). Back home on the balcony we enjoy the night and the peace, and then it is time for bed.