San Pietro beach as the sun goes down. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
The one plus to living on a small Italian island is that the beach is always moments away. In fact, we just have to walk a couple of blocks from our door to arrive at the beach here on Ischia. That’s a big deal for a girl from north Jersey, who is used to at least an hour in the car before hitting the ocean. I’ve enjoyed photographing the ocean and beach ever since I came to Ischia with my parents when I was 12. I had been to the island before, but at 12 I wanted to bring back images to share the trip with my friends. Ever since then, I’m always snapping away.
The other night, while walking with my husband and son, I took this shot above and the ones below of San Pietro beach, which is in Ischia’s main hub, Ischia Porto. I’m no professional photographer, so I realize these are not very special pics. The sun’s glare as it descends is too overpowering. But I still love the look of these pictures when I set them to sepia as you see here. It definitely makes me think about an old-fashioned summer – girls in one-piece ’50s bathing suits, guys in vintage board shorts, ice cream cones, hanging under the boardwalk, and cruising with the songs of summer blaring from the radio. Too bad I am too young to have ever experienced such a memory and that Ischia – like the rest of Italy – does not even know what a boardwalk is. You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take Jersey out of the girl. I have a funny feeling, I’ll be writing that a lot over the next eight and a half months on the island.
Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press Travel, 2012) and the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com.
Another perspective on the setting sun from atop San Pietro Beach in Ischia. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
The other side of the beach starts to go dark as the sun sets on San Pietro Beach in Ischia. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
Enzo with us parents on our last day in Ischia in 2012. © Photo by Rosaria Di Meglio
On July 2, Enzo and I – along with my sister Rosaria, who had joined us in Italy just a few days earlier – headed back to the United States after three months in Italy living with my husband and his family. We had a bit of a heavy heart since Antonio, my husband and Enzo’s papa’, was staying behind. But we were looking forward to Enzo’s first fourth of July in America (which turned out to be beautiful despite the jet lag). Returning home was also a relief to me. Enzo had been sick for an entire month in Italy, and it is much more difficult to work from the remote island of Ischia, which is six hours ahead of most of my colleagues and sources in the States. Plus, I’ve had my fill of Ischia in general. I have very, very few friends there nowadays, and I haven’t kept up with most of my relatives. Other than my husband’s family with whom we live while in Ischia, I’m a bit isolated. Thank God for the beach, where Enzo and I spent the warmer days, and my in-laws, who shed more than a few tears bidding farewell to little Enzo. You can check out all the fun he had with Zia Rosaria and our Italian family in the photo album, “Ciao Italia 2012.”
Enzo at the beach in Ischia. © Photo by Giulia Buono
Enzo has been a beach bum of late. I’ve been taking him to the beach near my mother-in-law’s house in Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples. A trip to Ischia is incomplete, after all, without a few days on the beach. Since the first time we went a few weeks ago, Enzo has been fascinated by sand. He looks at it on his hand as if he’s a scientist making a completely new discovery that will enhance humanity. We brought a Winnie the Pooh bath tub with us and filled it with ocean water, and he enjoys sitting in it, splashing water onto his sunbathing cousins, and dragging sand into it. He also likes digging into the sand with a shovel and sand toys. He recently tried to sweep the garden, too. While his cousin was carrying him, he picked up the broom in the garden and started dragging it back and forth across the patio. He definitely has some of nonno’s landscaping genes. In fact, if it were up to Enzo we’d live in a tree in the backyard and eat all day there. Sounds like nonno has found someone to move with him to Buceto (the woods in Ischia). If you want to join Enzo on the beach, you can check out the “Beach Baby” photo album.
Jenkinson's Aquarium in Point Pleasant, N.J. is fun for the family. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
Animals have been capturing my attention lately. Maybe spring is in the air. Maybe it is the nurturer in me, who has been longing to have a little creature on which I can dote. Maybe it’s my sister — the zookeeper — rubbing off on me. Whatever it is, animals have been winning my heart. A couple of weeks ago, Antonio and I brought a friend from Italy to Point Pleasant, N.J., where we spent part of the day at Jenkinson’s Aquarium with the fishies and their amphibian friends. (For photos, visit the “Jenkinson’s Aquarium” photo album.)
Over the weekend, my sister Rosaria adopted herself a beagle (yes, another beagle) named Shilo. I’m already in love with the little bugger, and I haven’t even met him yet. The photos are that adorable. Last night, Antonio and I watched March of the Penguins for the first time. (I know I’m a little behind the times.) Doggone it, that was a good flick. Those penguins are so disciplined and they make such sacrifices. I was blown away and humbled. The little baby penguins were friggin adorable. That’s why I was not at all surprised at myself when I chose a photo of a mama lamb and her babies for today’s Wordless Wednesday entry on About.com’s Newlywed site. Check it out, leave a comment (or better yet share your own baby story), and drown in the cuteness of these animals.
Sea shells down by the sea shore in New Jersey -- where else? © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with all things New Jersey. I guess after having spent five months in Italy, I’m longing for a little bit of my home. That’s part of the reason I suggested taking Antonio and his friend Ludovica, who is staying with us while she studies English in New York, down the shore to Point Pleasant Beach on a Saturday afternoon in November. The other reason was that the weather was particularly warm until very recently here on the East Coast. (See the “Down the Shore” photo album for photos from our day.) We looked for sea shells — and found a ton of them, did a little shopping at the Jenkinson’s Aquarium gift shop, and took a stroll in the town of Point Pleasant. All in all, it was the perfect day down the shore.
The song Jersey Girl (which, in true Jersey Girl fashion, I’m listening to Bruce Springsteen sing as I write this) tells the entire story. “Cause down the shore everything’s all right, you and your baby on a Saturday night. You know all my dreams come true when I’m walking down the street with you.” My husband is one lucky man to have found an Italian Jersey girl who brings him down the shore on a Saturday night! A lucky, lucky man!
Bagnitiello is a thermal pool park and beach in Casamicciola, Ischia in Italy. © Photo by Francesca Di Meglio
In all my years of visiting Ischia — I visited for the first time when I was just two years old — I had never heard of Bagnitiello in Casamicciola, Ischia until the summer of 2009. (For photos, visit Francesca’s Tour of Bagnitiello.) This year, my husband Antonio and I spent two days with friends at this thermal pool park and bay. The affordable entrance price — 10 euro per person — combined with a spectacular view that gives creedence to Ischia’s name, “The Green Island”, and the delicious bruschetta with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella served at the snack bar are reason enough to keep returning.
Much smaller than the three major thermal spas in Ischia (Poseidon Gardens, Negombo, and Castiglione), Bagnitiello also offers unmatched tranquility. With a hot tub and thermal pool and non-thermal pools for the kiddies, there is plenty to do besides laying out in the sun. The owners also built stairs over the rocks, so people can walk right into the middle of this bay in the ocean, which is the origin of the healing thermal waters. There are boogie board-type mats in the ocean for people to lay out there, too.
Difficult to get to Bagnitiello because there is nowhere to park and you have to walk down a winding, bumpy path, you might consider taking a motorino (think Vespa). But if you’re like me, you’ll have a heart attack on the motorino — not that it has stopped my husband from taking me to Bagnitiello on one. Still, there is some convenience to this location. Bagnitiello is close to the larger thermal spa Castiglione, which is also more affordable than the other two big spas and more conducive to families because of its non-thermal options.The bottom line is that Bagnitiello is not quite the tourist trap that some of the other spas have become, so the atmosphere and the activities are still pleasurable and offer the kind of peace you’d like to have at the beach or spa.