Ischia is the largest and most populous island in the Bay of Naples. Today it is furthermore one of the most important vacation destinations in southern Italy and a very famous spa. The island covers an area of 8,05 square kilometres and includes six communes: Ischia Porto & Ponte, Casamicciola Terme, Lacco Ameno, Forio, Serrara Fontana and Barano, furthermore the villages of Campagnano, San Michele and Sant' Antuono, all belonging to the town of Ischia. The island's population counts about 50.000 inhabitants.
The first settlements on the islands date from the 8th century BC when Greeks from Eretria and Chalcis founded Pithecusae, the first Greek colony in the West, on the promotory of Mount Vico. Later, the Romans arrived and discovered the extraordinary properties of the hot springs so abundant in this island. This wealth of thermo-mineral waters was first used for therapeutic purposes on an organized basis in the 16th century and has progressed constantly as a result of medical and scientific research and advanced technology. Treatment centres and parks constitute half of the island's tourism services. The popular treatments include thermal baths, mud baths, irrigation, inhalation, hydromassage, massotherapy, physiotherapy and beauty treatments.
Ischia is the main town on the island of Ischia and is situated at the north-east end of the island. It is divided into two, Ponte de Lima and Porto Rotondo. The former is the old quarter, a fishing village built round the little island on which the castle stands. It was under the rule of the Greeks, Syracuse, Naples and the Romans, but the oldest surviving buildings date back to the Middle Ages. Ischia Porto is a bathing and thermal resort built in the area of the pine wood on the edge of a submerged crater. The most important treatment centres are the Antiche Terme and the Nuove Terme, with radioactive water containing salt, bromine and iodine.
Ischia Porto is the biggest town on the island and the best starting point for exploring the island. The ferries form Napels arrive here. The Aragonese castle in the harbour is one of the major attractions of the city. Other towns include Forio on the west side of the island, the old Spa of Casamicciola and Barano in the south. Further excursions can be made to Faiano, Castello Aragonese, Montagnone, Capri, Procida, Herculaneum, Pompeii, Naples, Barano, Lacco Ameno and Mount Epomeo.