It's been two weeks since myself and my newly-gained pasta belly have returned from Italy, and boy are the post-holiday blues hitting hard. No more 3pm gelato stops, no more lazing on the beach and certainly no more Aperol - oh, did I mention no more gelato?
But hey, that's what holidays are about really aren't they - living your best life that is as far removed from the reality of our usual routines, so that you savour them as much as possible. On reflection, I can definitely say I did that.
Italy has been on my destination wish list for as long as I was old enough to say the word 'pizza', or at least I'd like to think so. It's romantic culture, beautiful surroundings and wonderful food and wine is enough to give anyone the urge to pack their bags and say 'Ciao' to the UK.
With some careful planning (and a lot of Instagram stalking - thank-you Conde Nast Traveller), we settled on our destination of Ischia - a modestly unknown island about a 50 minute ferry ride from the city of Naples, our first and last stop.
Unlike the classically glamorous Sorrento and Capri, Ischia doesn't attract the same air of elitist grace as its neighbours - which actually works in its favour. This means that accommodation is reasonably priced, restaurants are abundant and you won't be fighting for space on the beach. What's more, there are very few tourists due to the island's lack of PR - great if you're looking to become fully immersed in the Italian culture for your stay.
Due to the island's size, there isn't much in the form of self-catered accommodation - but after a few evenings spent trawling Air BnB, we were lucky enough to find a great little apartment in the picturesque town of Sant'Angelo that exceeded all expectations. With expansive sea views, ample facilities and lovely hosts - we couldn't have asked for more (well, perhaps a longer stay).
Another bonus? A beach - strangely enough, a rarity along the rock-ridden Amalfi coastline. The Sant'Angelo beach (South of the Island) is perfect for sun lounging during the day, with crystal-blue waters to cool down in when the heat gets too much. There's also the famous Maronti beach nearby, which you can catch a water taxi over to if you're looking for some different scenery by the end of the week.
Aside from all of Ischia's selling points, it's worth mentioning that the island doesn't have the most forgiving of landscapes. Transport in and around the town is limited to taxi buggies due to the narrow streets and steep hills, so if this doesn't sound like you're bag - perhaps look at some of the towns nearer to Foro and The Port. If you're not phased, at least you can justify the daily walking as a sure way to make room for all the delicious food you'll be eating - catch 22 and all that.
All in all, if you're looking for a holiday that goes off the beaten track - Ischia is certainly one worth exploring. With flights to Naples from most UK airports, trying somewhere beyond the norm has never been so easy.
For links to where we stayed, tap on the links below.
Air BnB, Naples
Air BnB, Ischia