The Phlegraean Islands of Southern Italy are so called because of the geological field to which they belong. Best known for their beautiful beaches and chic maritime culture, these islands are popular tourist destinations. Here is a brief guide to the four islands of this group in the Bay of Naples:
This volcanic island is the largest of the Phlegraean Archipelago. Its main draw for the predominantly German and Asian tourists are the spas which offer treatments utilising the island's hot springs and volcanic mud. Parts of the film, 'The Talented Mr Ripley' were filmed here, one of many films to have shot scenes on Ischia. Ischia is also known for wine production, and for a number of sights and attractions, including Aragonese Castle, gardens at La Mortella and Villa Ravino and the Villa la Colombaia.
This little island is situated between Ischia and Cape Miseno on the mainland. Like Ischia, Procida was featured in 'The Talented Mr Ripley' and has been used for location filming on a number of productions, chosen due to its breathtaking panoramas and typical Mediterranean architecture. The historic centre of Procida is particularly scenic, with its colourful buildings and picturesque marina. This island is delightfully unspoiled, retaining its maritime culture, though tourism is a growing industry here and the summer months are becoming busier.
Vivara is a tiny satellite island off the coast of Procida and has been connected to it by a pedestrian footbridge since the 1960s. Vivara is a curved section of a volcanic crater that sticks up, covered in lush greenery, from the surrounding blue sea. There is only one building, a 'hunting lodge' from the 1860s, so this island is perfect for hikers and ramblers who want to enjoy a quiet walk in a natural environment. There are stunning views from the island back towards the Campanian Coast.
This tiny islet (whose name derives from 'small island' in Greek) is in the same volcanic group as the others above, is connected to the mainland at Cape Posillipo, just to the north of Naples, by a stone bridge. This is not a tourist destination. One half of Nisida is now the headquarters of the Italian Navy and the other half is a juvenile detention centre.
This fascinating group of islands contrast sharply with their glitzy and far better known neighbour, Capri, which is a more popular – some might say too popular – tourist destination. If you are looking for a less-busy alternative to Capri then Ischia or Procida may just be a very good option for somewhere to stay. Procida and Vivara edge it if you are looking for a quiet escape with plenty of walks and world-class wildlife watching opportunities, while if it is complete relaxation and pampering you are after then the spas of Ischia may be the answer.