Porto d’Ischia

Across the road from the pontoon is a taxi rank. There are lots of taxis here and it is hard to move without one offering his services. The one in pole position when we set out this morning was a mini bus on the decrepit side of vintage with a wiry driver of equal seniority. Lara and I climbed onto the bench seat behind the driver, for which there was just one working seat belt. John sat in front of us in the passenger seat. After wrestling the sliding door shut on us our driver climbed in and set off at a good clip. He let down his window and the breeze to supplement the air conditioning provided by a large blue fan clipped above the center of the windscreen. A thin black cable, amply adorned with electrical tape connected this Cyclops to somewhere in the dash. The cable was kept out of the driver’s way by a piece of string tying it to the rear view mirror. It was not inconceivable that the whole bus was held together with similar bits of string and black tape. We rattled along the windy sea road and into the town. As he negotiated the bends with one hand, our driver pressed a map into John’s hands and tried to point to places on it with the other. John agreed wholeheartedly with whatever he being told and pocketed the map. When we hit the cobbled streets of town, the inside of the cab set up a syncopated percussion of protest. Thankfully we soon pulled up on a corner and our driver pointed out a street and said ‘shopping’. We smiled and nodded and climbed out quickly, so John could pay him. After we had watched him turn and head back we crossed the road and headed for a table outside the nearest café to gather our scrambled senses. John and I had delicious coffees and in Lara chose a cake, which turned out to have been drenched in alcohol. We all had a try.

Porta d’Ischia has more in the way of boutiques and tourist shops, but is still very pretty. The cobbled streets wind up and down around the sea front. Window box style planters sitting in scaffolding frames on wheels are deployed to shut off parts of the town to traffic, so it is pleasant to wander about looking in the shops. There is a beach area down some low cliffs and plenty of brave souls were out on the sands and paddling. The harbour is an old lake, which has been artificially channeled to the sea. Most of the craft sit around the edge, with a large expanse of calm water in the middle. The calm is bought at the price of the narrow entrance through which the huge ferries plough at speed. We walked along the harbour front and found a restaurant past all the fishing boats with a terrace looking out to sea and had a very pleasant lunch of pasta. Lara and I both had tagliolini with a lemon cream sauce, which was delicious and John had seafood linguini. This time we had both wine and coffee and the effects of the wine won out over the coffee, so feeling full and very sleepy we headed back to base for a nap. The taxi back was more swish, the driver rather younger and the journey much smoother, though it did cost five Euros more.

We were all still full that evening and set out to walk to the neighbouring resort of Lacco Ameno, hoping to see a festival of lights advertised for that evening. There was some doubt that we might have missed it the previous night. The festival was due to end with a firework display and Lara had witnessed a magnificent show when she had poked her head up through her hatch after being woken by a series of loud reverberating bangs, which had failed to rouse either John or myself. Lara had not expected the display to go on for long, so did not try to wake us and had witnessed it from the foredeck along with our German neighbours of knife wielding fame. A Google search afterwards had revealed plans for a parade of lighted floats on Friday evening, (tonight), followed by fireworks. The weather forecast for midnight on Friday was for thunderstorms and logic said the organizers had pragmatically brought the festival forward a night, but failed to change the website. Nonetheless we fancied the walk and the resort next door sounded nice, so we set off to see if anything was happenning.

It was a lovely walk round the coast, heading towards the reds of the setting sun. The little resort of Lacco Ameno spread out round the bay and reminded me of the times we walked round the headland from Roses and came across pretty little places. John noted the presence of a new marina, not in our pilot book. The village had a more seaside feel than Casamicciola, with more bars and restaurants overlooking the bay with its fantasy landmark of a mushroom shaped rock. On the way in we passed the light show all trussed up on its’ lorries, which was a shame. Nonetheless the place was still decked out for the festival with flower displays everywhere. The seafront had been closed to traffic by more of the wheeled planters and a series of stalls had been set along it selling crafts and jewelery. In the square a rock band was tuning up and, as we wandered back after walking the length of the front, broke into an old Police track. Tinkerbelle came strolling towards us waving to left and right. Still not hungry we sat in a jazz bar overlooking the beach and sipped wine and Martini. Then it was back along the sea front and supper onboard.

As it turned out the weather forecast was wrong and there was only a little light rain early on that night. Either that or this time we all slept through the noise of thunder.

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