Ischia: Therapeutic waters draw guests to volcanic island spa
Come on in. The water is fantastic.
Quite soothing and relaxing, in fact.
With the thermal pool — featuring hydro-massaging jets — kept at a constant temperature of 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit, I can understand why.
Sometimes, it’s little life events such as taking a day to pamper yourself that can do wonders to rejuvenate the soul, and thermal spas in Italy — particularly the region around Naples — abound. A recent trip to the popular Negombo resort on the volcanic island of Ischia proved worthy of its 28-euro entry fee (ticket bought from a tourist center at Ischia Porto for a 2-euro discount.)
Negombo, set on the shores of the Bay of San Montano on the northwestern side of the island and splashed by the Tyrrhenian Sea, is considered one of the richest therapeutic basins in the region and a generous source of thermal water, according to an information packet doled out to visitors.
The park offers a number of “pools,” each designed to achieve a particular benefit. The thermal pools provide relaxation and are said to work toward the prevention of rheumatism, while the hydro-massaging jets stimulate circulation. The heat from the hamam, or Turkish sauna/bath, helps the body expel toxins and the private beach provides access to the sea for swimming and exposure to iodine, which benefits the thyroid gland.
Ischia is a volcanic island, and designers took full advantage by incorporating natural lava pieces throughout the spa and park.
Negombo is more than a spa with thermal pools, however. It boasts lavish gardens designed by landscape artist Ermanno Casasco, who incorporated more than 500 varieties of Mediterranean and exotic plants throughout the park.
But quite honestly, while pretty, people don’t really go to Negombo for the gardens. They go for the thermal water spouts, the tufa sauna cave, or the “Kneipp” pool, which features two pools of water, one hot and one cold. Wading into one and then the other, with their contrast of temperatures, stimulates circulation and tones the body.
There’s the Olympic-size sea water pool, kept at ambient temperature, or the Jacuzzi with hydro-massaging jets and kept at a soothing, constant 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. (It seats eight and tends to remain full.)
And for the maximum indulgence, be sure to hit up the hamam, complete with a hot center stone on which patrons sit or lie to induce profuse sweating that causes the body to eliminate toxins.
Bring a robe, flip-flops and bathing suit — this isn’t a no-clothes spa.
The healing properties and overall benefits of thermal waters have been used since the time of the Etruscans, some 800 years B.C.
That much history can’t be all wrong, can it?
DIRECTIONS: Regular ferries run from Naples’ Beverello pier and from the port of Pozzuoli. A comprehensive timetable for all ferry companies is found at traghetti-ischia.info. The ride takes roughly an hour, a little more if the ferry stops first at the island of Procida. There are two ports on the island: Ischia Porto and Casamicciola. From either, take public bus 1, 2 or CS for Baia San Montano. The buses tend to be very crowded but taxis are overpriced. Get off at the San Lorenzo stop and follow the signs to the park.
TIMES: 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
COSTS: Ferry prices vary. It costs 30 euros per person at the resort, but tickets bought at Busfahrkarten ticket booth at Ischia Porto main square can save you 2 euros a ticket. Bus tickets cost 1.90 euros for 90 minutes.