The Frecciarossa that takes us from Central Milan to Naples, against all my “Italian” doubts, very punctual at 7:35 (5 minutes before Battisti and Mogol …) and the journey slips pleasant and fast.
We arrive in Naples around noon and the city welcomes us with what for me is one of its emblems: the horns (you’ll be thinking that even the Milanese don’t joke in traffic but … nothing to do: the Neapolitans are unbeatable, theirs is an coded language).
The Imperatore Travel Van takes us to the Molo Beverello where we board the Alilauro hydrofoil to the port of Casamicciola in Ischia. I stop for a moment, I look at the sea and I see Vesuvius on the horizon, I breathe deeply and my eyes get wet: it always happens to me when I see the sea.
The voice of Pino Daniele resounds in my head “chi tene ‘o mare ‘o ssape ca è fesso e cuntento”.
I am in Ischia and the only way I can tell you about it is to give you a “box” of 5 souvenir cards with which each of you can form a personal puzzle to decide when you will go.
The “Garden and Villas Resort” is the structure where I stayed and the intense smell with which I am welcomed is that typical of the Mediterranean maquis and clearly distinguishes the acrid scent of the helichrysum. A jewel immersed in greenery: walls with strolling plaster, stones paving avenues and forming arches, oleanders, lemon and orange trees, maritime pines, palms, agave. Biodiversity makes it the master.
The heart of the Resort is the restaurant “Il Corbezzolo” where Chef Giancarlo Lo Giudice conquers every taste with authenticity: he kneads and bakes bread every day in the wood-burning oven and uses local productsthanks to the organic vegetable garden inside of the structure.
Breakfast is like the ones for the kings: tables laden with every sweet and savory delicacy. The dreamy lemon Caprese.
I look around and I seem to hear Ornella Vanoni humming “È tutto apparecchiato per il cuore e per il palato, sarà bello bellissimo travolgente lasciarsi vivere totalmente. Dolce dolcissimo e sconveniente coi bei peccati succede sempre. Ci vuole fortuna perché funzioni, i brividi alla schiena e gli ingredienti buoni”.
The “Cantine Crateca” of the Castagna Family are in Lacco Ameno and to reach them arm yourself with courage because the road of about 1 km is unique, narrow, two-way, unpaved and steep but I can assure you that what awaits you at the top is worth it. There are colours, smells and flavours that, once stored, will be enough just to close your eyes to relive them.
The terraces look majestic towards the sea and the sky of a blue that I had not seen for years has made time immobile. The Epomeo white wine from the Cantina Crateca 70% Biancolella and 30% Fiano caressed my gypsy soul and the sweet and intense flavour of the tomatoes that the Castagna family cultivates in the same land of its vineyards become an explosion of genuine and authentic flavors in the hands of Chef Lo Giudice.
I hear Van Morrison’s sweet “Someone Like You” in the air.
The trattoria “Il Focolare” is located in Barano d’Ischia on Monte Cretaio and is a place you can’t imagine: enter and take a trip back in time.
Mr. Riccardo D’Ambra welcomes us in the cellar dug into the rock between bottles guarded by the dust of time and fragments of memories that fill the air. His rabid and passionate stories are a must, an act due to an island that hides an incredible story among its rocks. Riccardo looks us in the eye and says: “eat what you want tourists but the traditional Ischian cuisine is earthy”.
The trattoria has the Slow Food presidium for the pit rabbit and you can’t miss the version of the Chef Agostino D’Ambra (and even his garlic and oil spaghetti that at the end of an almost wedding dinner will settle your digestion).
The radio plays a New Trolls version of “Quella carezza della sera” and I understand that time travel is real.
“Casa al Sole Boutique Hotel” you do not notice immediately, it hides within the walls of Sant’Angelo and when you discover it you want to tal about it: a precious little pearl. Each room is treated in detail, has the name of a woman of the Ischian tradition, has a wonderful ceramic that represents it.
We are welcomed on the terrace at sunset where the warmth of the sun, the wind that ruffles the hair and the lemon bread fritters make us want to stay until nightfall. “Casa al Sole” looks a lot like a noblewoman who looks out over the sea and draws passers-by like a siren.
A bit like Luciano Ligabue says: “some women shine, some women are enough, some women call at night whether you like it or not”.
The restaurant “Il Mare” is part of the structure “Miramare Sea Resort” in Sant’Angelo, a dream structure embedded in the rock that seems to dive into the sea. The restaurant terrace hosts us for the gala dinner. The atmosphere is made magical by a table laden as if it were a sky overflowing with stars and by the sea that just below us breaks protection on the rocks.
Chef Girolamo Mennella cooks a perfect dinner for us and his spaghetti with garlic, oil and walnuts on beaten red shrimp gives a blaze of flavours to my palate.
In my head the impetuous voice of Andrea Bocelli interprets my emotion “Se dentro l’anima tu fossi musica, se il sole fosse dentro te, se fossi veramente dentro l’anima mia, allora sì che udir potrei nel mio silenzio il mare calmo della sera”.
Other small tiles form the lid that closes my box: the “San Montano Resort” that spies on Vesuvius from its terrace and the pizza with mortadella, pistachios and burrata by Franco Pepe, the Aragonese Castle which preserves imposing treasures within its walls history of the island, the “Poseidon Gardens” immersed in the green have knocked down my reticence at the spa, the cloth shops in the streets of Sant’Angelo, the 60’s atmosphere of the center of Forio and Ischia seen from the sea so fragile and same time impregnable.
Impressed forever in my memory: the eroticity of the wind, the timidity of dawn, the wonder of the sunset and the freedom of the blue sky.
Listen to them, look at them and get excited as the great Totò taught:
“Ischia, chistu mare è sempre blu!
Chistu cielo ch’è n’incanto,
chistu golfo ch’è nu vanto
chesto ‘o tiene sulo tu!
Sti bellizze song’ ‘o vero!
chesto ‘o dice ‘o furastiero,
ca scurdà nun te po’ cchiu”.