Spa Escape: Italy’s Island of Ischia

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Beach time at Mezzatorre Resort & Spa.

Sweet Nothings

Spring off to Ischia—Italian for health.

The indoor pool at Terme Manzi's spa.
Mezzatorre's lobby.

By Susan Van Allen

For thousands of years, volcanic Ischia’s mineral-rich springs and smoking plumes of air have turned caves into curative saunas. Much of this goodness is channeled into 300-plus spa hotels and thermal parks, making Ischia the largest thermal-water destination in Europe.

Italians, Germans, and Brits have long loved the island’s waters and mud treatments, as well as the port villages, sandy beaches, and grottos lining its 23-mile coastline, yet Ischia remains largely unknown to Americans. Less crowded than its neighbor Capri, it’s perfect for a taste of what the Italians call il dolce far niente—“the sweetness of doing nothing”—and taking part in the ancient spa tradition is key to experiencing its essence.

Set on a secluded promontory on the outskirts of the village of Lacco Ameno, 57-room Mezzatorre Resort & Spa is a stylish, creamy-white affair scented of jasmine, where a willowy spa director, Signora Rosy, customizes programs for guests.

In contrast to Mezzatore’s isolated perch, Terme Manzi Hotel & Spa sits tucked into the green hills of the village of Casamicciola Terme. Along with treatments such as an Ischian-herb scrub, Terme Manzi’s modern spa is known for its mosaic-tiled pools fed by the Gurgitiello thermal springs, which have been praised since Roman times for their antiaging properties.

Giardini La Mortella is also an Ischia must-see. This lush, terraced green paradise with a lovely tea garden (perfect at sunset) was the dream project of Susan Walton and her husband, British composer William Walton.

Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, March 2014.

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