Ischia is the least well known but the best of the Phlegraean Islands, in our opinion. Ischia offers a laid back, casual beach holiday and is more affordable than its well-known, high-maintenance sister Capri. Toss in the best beaches in Campania and it makes Ischia the ideal spot to vacation or shoot some movie magic for the big screen and TV.
1. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999): This is a cult classic among fans of Matt Damon, Jude Law & Gwyneth Paltrow. The crime drama stars Damon as Tom Ripley, a grifter sociopath who falls into a thousand bucks and a trip to Italy. He then preys upon the characters played by Law & Paltrow. The lush scenery is actually the true star of the film. The plot is so weak as to be laughable. It’s worth a rental to virtually travel from Rome and Venice to Positano and Ischia for a movie magic escape to Italy.
2. My Beautiful Friend (2018 – ): This is the ongoing HBO series based on the book of the same name by Elena Ferrante. It’s a coming of age story for two young women in Naples in the 1950s. The dynamic between the main characters is almost too toxic to watch and the scenery on Ischia is restricted to the same 10-foot stretch of beach and terrace throughout Season Two. However, if you want to get a slice of life of growing up in Naples, tune in and follow the sub-titles.
3. Ultras (2020): This Netflix film focuses on an ageing Napoli soccer fan and the young brother of a friend who died in violent clashes in Rome years ago. It is a raw and powerful portrayal of one faction of the Ultras, the name for loyal Napoli soccer fans. The hard edge of violence in Naples is set off by the softness of life and love on Ischia. They seem worlds apart but are barely an hour ferry ride away. For anyone who’s had a seat in the Ultra section of San Paolo Stadium in Curva A or Curva B, the energy will rush through you all over again. For anyone who’s only heard about Ultras in Napoli, this will take you inside their raw, violent world where sometimes the aggression is the only thing in their control.
4. There’s No Place Like Home (A Casa Tutti Bene) (2018): This Italian film is one of our favorites because you actually get to see the beauty of Ischia, from the top of Castello Aragonese to the tiny beach borgo of Sant’Angelo. It’s the story of one large Italian family’s journey to the island to celebrate their grandparents’ 50th anniversary. Weather keeps them from leaving Ischia. And as with any Italian family gathering, passions run hot and patience run thin. But at the end of all the screaming, love survives. Stranded on Ischia? Sounds absolutely divine to us.
Each summer, the island hosts the Ischia Global Film Festival, where Hollywood descends to honor stars and films made mostly off the island. That, in itself, is strange. What is supremely fantastic, however, is that the location of the film fest is at our favorite hotel on the planet, L’Albergo Regina Isabella. Get lost on Ischia during a virtual vacation or a genuine holiday and you’ll never want to go anywhere else.