Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

RETURN TO CAMPANIA--ISCHIA CASTS ITS SPELL

RETURN TO CAMPANIA--ISCHIA CASTS ITS SPELL

Old Oct 16th, 2009, 01:05 PM
  #41  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,568
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Caroline: Ischia may mark the last trip for the old, as-laden-as-a-pack-mule-on-the-Oregon-Trail ekscrunchy. The new Ekscrunchy will take her cue from you and travel light as a feather. Well, you get the idea.

And to top it all off, the "albatross" suitcase, laden with cheese purchased in Naples on the last morning went AWOL for more than 24 hours!

Suitcase or not,, that bus ride from the airport to the port was a fantastic experience. Not for the faint of heart! And the aliscafi direct to Forio certainly made things easier for us once we arrived on the island. Later in the week, we did cart all the "stuff" on the bus from the hotel to Porto (when we changed hotels). More on that this weekend....
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2009, 09:46 AM
  #42  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,568
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The rain began again that afternoon so, after a brief stop at the hotel, we returned to Forio and began thinking about dinner. I was very tempted to try Umberto a Mare; we actually stopped in again to view the night’s menu offerings. But in the end, economy won out and we ventured to Zi Carmela, a casual spot right on the main bus route that was mentioned in a couple of guidebooks and that is attached to the hotel of the same name. I had reservations about the place going in—right in the center of the action; menu posted out front translated into 4 languages, but Forio center is not exactly filled with promising looking spots, so we took a chance. (There is another local option next to the main covered food market, on one of the pedestrian streets).



http://www.zicarmela.com/ischia-a_tavola_il_menu.html


Zi Carmela is a informal trattoria enclosing a large, airy dining room topped by a beamed ceiling from which dangle an array of ceramic cups.

We began our meal with a pizza Margherita to share. First rate ingredients and a touch of smoke from the wood-burning oven made this one of the hits of the evening.

My fish-shunning partner requested a primi with no elements from the sea and was rewarded with a very good cut pasts brimming with tomato, eggplant, and mozzarella. Very good.

My primi—the Zi Carmela house special of tagliolini with mussels, clams, and shrimp—was slightly less successful.

My partner called a halt after the pasta course and I forged ahead, purely in the interest of research, with the gamberoni—head-on shrimp which were very good.

Despite the central location, our fellow diners appeared to be locals.

With a water, the bill totalled 49 euro; we had ordered a liter of the house white wine (very good) which the congenial owner, Nicola, removed from the bill for no reason other than pure generosity.

After dinner, we ambled along the pedestrian streets to the center of Forio and enjoyed a superb gelato at an elegant bar whose name I neglected to jot down. Walk up the pedestrian street leading from the port area and turn right at the pedestrian street running at a right angle. The bar will be on your right.




Tomorrow: The wonderland that is Negombo.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2009, 02:33 AM
  #43  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello again eks. Oh no - I do hope the cheese didn't suffer !!

I wouldn't say I "travel light as a feather" Since I've started sometimes using budget carriers like (UK airlines) Jet2 & Flyglobespan, I do need to work at keeping the weight of each case below 20kg - I think before they usually came in between c.19 and 24. And I couldn't manage with only a carry-on size bag for more than 2 nights. But with wheely cases, I can cope with the occasional lifting required.

"I forged ahead, purely in the interest of research"
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 09:11 AM
  #44  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,568
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The next morning, of what would be our second full day on Ischia, the weather had improved a bit and the sun began to play hide and seek. We had arranged (through the hotel) to rent a car and spend the day exploring the island, finishing with dinner at Il Focolare, a SlowFood restaurant in the hills outside Casamicciola. Manuela at reception had arranged the one-day Smart Car rental from a local agency at a price of about 55 euro for the day; this price included delivery of the car to the Villa Melodie and retrieval the next morning.

That morning at breakfast when Gianni heard of our plan, he insisted that we cancel the car rental, saying that the local drivers would make our lives miserable and hinting that he felt it was even dangerous!

What about our quest for Ischian rabbit?
No problem!

Actually, Gianni insisted, Il Fololare did not deserve its exalted reputation. "Everyone" knew that the best rabbit cook on the entire island was Renato, whose trattoria, Da Pepina, was "just up the road" from the Villa Melodie.

After much feverish discussion back and forth, my partner (who had not been all too keen on the car rental to begin with, and preferred to get about by bus) and I decided to heed Gianni’s advice. And so when, at the appointed time, the car arrived, Gianni went to bat for us with the rental agency’s representative who had delivered the little vehicle, claiming that the “signor” was not feeling well and that, please forgive them, we had decided to cancel the car.

After requesting that the front desk cancel our reservation at Il Focolare and book a table at Da Pepina, we headed for the swimming pool which, as noted above, is one of the highlights of Villa Melodie. We both did a healthy bit of lap swimming (we were the only ones in the pool, which was usually the case) and then, deciding to take advantage of the promising weather, gathered our things and set off on the bus for the famed Negombo.

The words, “thermal park” cannot even begin to convey the fabulousness that is Negombo. After a very steep downhill walk from the bus stop (a large “Negombo” sign indicates the spot), we paid the entry fee of about 28 euro per person (there are small discounts for entry after certain times of day; these vary by season) and, following instructions (very little English is spoken by staff) we made our way to the guardaroba where we were given the opportunity to lock our valuables and buy towels; I would advise bringing your own towel and sarong or robe as, contrary to what I thought I had read, these are not available for rental. Then, suitably attired in our swimsuits, we set off to explore this vast seaside adult playground.

http://www.negombo.it/
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 29th, 2009, 04:05 AM
  #45  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Looking forward to hearing more ! We only went to Apllon-Aphrodite and while we had a pleasant half day I wouldn't describe it as fabulous ! Also looking forward to hearing about the best rabbit on the island
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Oct 29th, 2009, 05:29 AM
  #46  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just can't eat bunny. One problem is that the family grows their own bunnies so I can't eat anything I know The whole family knows my aversion so wherever we eat, they make something else for me. Ok, when you go into the kitchen and see a skinned bunny in the sink...head and all.......augh! One cousin put a baby bunny in my daughter's arms. I looked at her and said, "You know where that's going soon." Bunnies belong with an Easter basket on their arm.

Now don't give me a hard time about this (LOL). I'm not a farm girl. I'm pretty close to a vegetarian. My husband and SIL love bunny.
Ann1 is offline  
Old Oct 29th, 2009, 05:42 AM
  #47  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,478
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just found this and now I have to dash off to a meeting...saving for evening reading!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Old Oct 29th, 2009, 09:01 AM
  #48  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ann, "a skinned bunny in the sink" ? Pah ! At the place we've enjoyed it on Sant'Angelo, you get it on the platter along with the rest of it
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Oct 29th, 2009, 01:09 PM
  #49  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Caroline: This was at our family dinner in Sant Angelo not a restaurant. Yes, after we had dinner I was cleaning off the table. When I walked into the kitchen the skinned bunny that THEY (my husband and the rest of the family) had just eaten was in the sink minus it's meat. It was a big one.

You said "you get it on the platter along with the rest of it" The whole bunny? The head, too? I'm sorry, it's all so gross. I gag when my husband has is served fish with the head on. I'm easily grossed out. I don't want to relate something on my plate as being alive at one time. I don't eat much that was. Or something that was delivering candy at Easter
Ann1 is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2009, 02:52 AM
  #50  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,568
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for sticking with me here. This report is coming in even slower dribs and drabs than is my norm, due to the renovations here which have pushed me into a dusty corner with an often non-connected laptop. But I will be back soon. I will post a warning just before the rabbit makes an appearance. Suffice to say that my partner is a fairly non-adventurous eater and his friends are now laughing at him when he exclaims about his "new favorite" restaurant in Italy and how he had the best (and perhaps the only) rabbit of his life there!!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2009, 03:29 AM
  #51  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Please don't let me stop anyone from eating bunny. It's just my queeziness. As I mentioned, my husband and SIL love it. It is a delicacy of Ischia and if you're so inclined, you should experience it. I know a couple of Italian restaurants in NYC that serve also. You can still get it in some butchers in Brooklyn.

Just a note: Every morning when my husband left for work our front lawn was full of bunnies eating. Literally for the week of Easter not one bunny was on the lawn. Then all of a sudden the lawn was full of them. This is totally true. We still laugh in amazment when we tell the story.. He still eats bunny.
Ann1 is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2009, 05:06 AM
  #52  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ann, sorry, I realised too late I missed out the "head and all" there Yes, when we've had rabbit in Ischia, we've been given a platter containing the whole animal, jointed and including the head, roasted with local herbs. Preceded by penne served with a sauce made from the same rabbit (so I suppose that means at least a bit must have been missing from the secondo platter !) and herbs. When we had it in Procida, though, it was at a fancier place and it came as bocconcini - no bones.

I'm afraid you would be horrified at our diet as we are now enjoying the first full flush of the game season here - so far in the last 2 months we've enjoyed grouse, mallard, widgeon, pheasant and partridge. These were all bought dressed so plucked and no head or feet, although we are keenly looking forward to the season's first woodcock, which we tried in the traditional manner for the first time last year... We also tried squirrel for the first time a few months ago. You are presumably missing out on all this enjoyment !!

No problem eks - it's maybe even more enjoyable, savouring your instalments slowly over a period of time !
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2009, 01:56 PM
  #53  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Caroline: No, foul is ok as long as it isn't looking at me and the feet are gone. Squirrel........no, I don't think so, not yet. I did, however, eat wild boar which I felt was good, but a little tough. I even ate it when they were slicing it off the leg with the hoof on it. But wild boar aren't cute I also eat squid but the only time I ate octopus I was sick for three weeks. Everyone at our table who had the same thing were also sick. That was it for me. I leave the octopus and plungers to my husband.

eks: I know what you're going through. My husband, my daughter, the dog and I lived, ate and slept in one tiny bedroom while our house was having major renovation. It wasn't fun. Good luch with it. Close your eyes and visualize your vacation.
Ann1 is offline  
Old Oct 31st, 2009, 02:29 PM
  #54  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That should be "fowl" not foul.
Ann1 is offline  
Old Oct 31st, 2009, 03:08 PM
  #55  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 14,612
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What an entertaining report, ekscrunchy.
cmcfong is offline  
Old Nov 1st, 2009, 11:30 AM
  #56  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,568
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A bit more, on Negombo:



The thermal waters of Ischia have been renowned since antiquity and in this regard, the area around Negombo is considered one of the richest on the island. The official brochure does not fall too far from the mark with this introduction:

“Negombo is a microcosm, conceived and built as a place of delight and wellbeing that contains all the pleasures and benefits that thermal water can give, combined with the sea and garden that surround it. Each of the pools the park offers is designed for specific functions:

The thermal pools provide relaxation (Editor's note from me: You can say that again!) and the prevention of rheumatism and improve the skin; the hydro-massages are there to stimulate the circulation; the Hamam (Turkish baths) are for the elimination of toxins; the sea provides iodine and a place for swimming.”

For those interested in such things, the spring waters here are mineral, hyperthermal, alkaline, and mildly radioactive.

Near the entrance, we were handed a map of the park, listing 28 different attractions, ranging from the Chiaia di Luna crescent pool “with a small cave cut into the hillside, ideal for relaxing and harmonizing with your inner self,” to the Irrgang Japanese bath, a labyrinthine circuit of hot- and cold-water pools paved with river pebbles that massage your feet as you move from one pool to the next. Next to each pool, a sign announces the temperature within—ranging from 18 to 38C.

We began with a long swim in the vast Piscina Grande Thermale which, at 30 degrees Centigrade, was my idea of heaven!

Then, a stroll to the idyllic, sandy San Montano beach (you can visit the adjacent beach without entering Negombo) set in a rocky cove and striped with rows of jaunty blue lounge chairs. (We were all set to brave the slightly chilly but crystal-clear sea when I spied a rosy pink jellyfish; this was one of the most beautiful sea creatures I had ever seen, but jellyfish are a life-long nemesis, so I sadly removed my goggles and retired to my lounger.)


The weather began to deteriorate, but not enough to diminish our pleasure that afternoon. After the large thermal pool, one of our favorites was the Templare thermal Shower—a warm (30C) shallow rectangular pool studded with about a dozen stern black basalt columns, each with a spout gushing a powerful fountain of water. Beneath these spouts, bikinied and Speedo-clad visitors, ranging from teenagers to octagenarians and hailing from lands including Italy, Russia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and the UK, sprawled in contorted poses, attempting to position themselves so that the force of the water massaged backs, the soles of the feet, shoulders, and calves.

The pools are set in glorious gardens abundant with exotic flowers and foliage ranging from palms to cacti. Along one of the winding and often steep staircases linking the various pools we spied the largest rabbit I had ever seen—this furry honey-colored creature must have weighed 30 pounds! He obviously had chosen an appealing sanctuary from the padellas of the island and judging from his response when I approached, he felt quite secure!

Another highlight was the “Bagno Turco,” the Turkish bath where the steam generates a “profuse sweating,” which will eliminate toxins from the body and the cleverly named “Ribollita,” a thermal Jacuzzi where the waters maintain a temperature of 30 degrees Centigrade.

Negombo is immense, with the various “installations” spread out over acres of terraces linked by winding paths and sets of staircases cut into the rock. The pools are set in glorious gardens abundant with exotic flowers and foliage ranging from palms to cacti. Hidden in the maquis lining one of the pathways, we spied the largest rabbit I had ever seen—this furry honey-colored creature must have weighed 30 pounds! He obviously had chosen an appealing sanctuary from the island’s padellas!

By about 5pm the drizzle had returned and we reluctantly returned to the changing room, vowing to return someday, if only to sample a massage at the Negombo Health and Beauty Center and a soak in the intriguingly named Onphalos Anthrotherapy Grotto! The gardens are so large that I would recommend setting aside an entire day if you plan to sample all of the installations. There are several options for lunch within the park.

The steep, uphill walk of about 500 meters back to the bus stop passes the entrance to the Mezza Torre Resort,, reportedly one of the loveliest hotels on the island. We gamely tried to pay a visit but the hotel is separated from the main road by a walk that a passerby estimated would take 30 minutes so we put that, too, on our list for the future. Once we reached the bus stop, the journey back to the Villa Melodie was short and well before 6pm we were back at the hotel and readying ourselves for dinner.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 04:45 AM
  #57  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sounds wonderful, eks - much better than Apollon Aphrodite which was really not much more than hotel grounds with a few different pools in. And a natural 'sauna' in a cave, which was a bit too rough & ready - you sat on the bare rock and were scalded by very hot drips from the rocky ceiling !

Ann, you cook woodcock whole - including the heads and innards Sorry about your octopus experience, though - if evberyone was ill, it must just have been bad - maybe you should try it again !
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 07:17 AM
  #58  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,513
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, Aphrodite Apollon is part of the Park Hotel Miramare in Sant Angelo. It doesn't have the extent of services as some of the better baths. My daughter and SIL went there and weren't very happy with it either. I will google this one for them. There are so many baths it's amazing. They have everything from caves that you have to walk down to for the mud baths all the way to lavish baths. They have baths in hotels to baths in park settings. Pretty much walk a few feet and you'll run into another one.

One thing to remember is that Ischia is known for it's wine and Limoncello. You can go to some wineries to visit, also.

Caroline: Yes, I know that was just a fluke. It was also the first time I have ever gotten sick in Italy. Our stomachs always feel better in Italy. My husband eats octopus and his family in the US has served it a lot especially at Christmas. It was just a bad meal......but I still don't want to eat the plungers again Squid I love anyway it's prepared. When the fishermen come up to the dock in Sant Angelo and bring the fresh squid, my mouth waters because I know what we're having for dinner.
Ann1 is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2009, 01:19 PM
  #59  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 23,568
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The mention of octopus is timely because I had the second-best octopus dish of my life that week, at another restaurant recommended by Gianni at Villa Melodie. I will try to get this report moving along soon..internet access is very spotty during this renovation and upheaval!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Nov 5th, 2009, 05:25 AM
  #60  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ooh, looking forward to it !
caroline_edinburgh is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -