An Undersung Italian Island With Enduring Charm

Our editor revisits the old-world, poetic appeal of Ischia — and the resorts that celebrate its natural beauty.

TUCKED WITHIN “Portraits and Observations,” Truman Capote’s undersung essay collection, is the writer’s meditation on Ischia. In it, he describes the island as “a jagged blue shadow glimpsed across the water from the heights of its celebrated neighbor, Capri,” and he recounts its “fair-sized” town of Lacco Ameno as “rugged.” Notably, Capote’s reflections were scribed in 1949, a year before renowned Italian publisher and film producer Angelo Rizzoli set about transforming the island (and specifically Lacco Ameno) into a destination suitably sophisticated for the stars of the golden age of Italian cinema. In fact, locals are still quick to report that Ischia is where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor met while filming “Cleopatra.”

Along with purchasing his own palazzo (now the Villa Arbusto museum), Rizzoli constructed Regina Isabella, a seafront resort with cliffside balcony bathtubs that combine the island’s seductive natural beauty with its healing thermal waters. Today, the resort retains its old-world luster and poetic Paolo Sorrentino-esque appeal while Ischia remains, status-wise, in Capri’s shadow. The locals prefer it that way — as do I. Its lower frequency and lush bromeliad- and bougainvillea-laced hills were well described to me as “like an embrace” by island native Alessandro Leonessa, whose family owns Ischia’s other, equally characterful luxury properties: Excelsior Belvedere and Il Moresco.

I return to this charming history and my effervescent summer visit to the island almost daily, thanks to bioactive body oil from Regina Isabella’s RI for ME skincare line, that resides on my vanity alongside a bottle of Nitrodi Ischia thermal water skin spray. The pair evidence a long-standing obsession with cosmetic mementos: perfumes, balms, tinctures from Kauai, Provence, Shanghai … Though tiny, these containers, with their ingredients of place, are fully transportive — that they tend not to be available for online purchase adds to their preciousness. Travel, they remind me, is always worth the trip.


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Our Contributors

Erin Dixon Managing Editor

Erin Dixon is the managing editor of Departures. Previously the managing editor of the arts and culture journal Dossier, she has worked and written for a variety of international magazines and publishing houses, ranging from Vogue, Kinfolk, and GQ to Phaidon, Workman Artisan, and HarperCollins.

Hisham Akira Bharoocha Illustrator

Hisham Akira Bharoocha is a multimedia artist based in Brooklyn, NY, working across various mediums including large-scale murals, paintings, drawings, collages, audio/visual installations, and performances. Bharoocha has had solo exhibitions at Snow Contemporary and Ginza Mitsukoshi in Tokyo, D’Amelio Terras in New York, and De Vleeshal in The Netherlands, and has exhibited his work in numerous group shows in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. His work has been published in Artforum, NOWNESS, i-D, V, and Flaunt Magazine to name a few.


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