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Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Le Zagare Hotel, Ischia, Italy

Written by Sherry Ott
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le zagareI was tired of the stampede of tour buses throughout Italy this summer, so I began looking for a place to try to experience Italy without a bunch of other tourists and bad souvenir shops.  I had an extra week of time to spend in Italy and I wanted to find something different.  I was done with shopping and seeing ruins, so I set out to find a place to enjoy the beautiful blue seas that Italy had to offer – I wanted to sail! I searched all over for a nice, quiet location with sailing instruction; and with a mid-range budget I never really thought I would find a place that would fit all of these things. However, Google pulled up Le Zagare in Ischia, my paradise in the tourist filled country of Italy!

 

I exchanged a number of emails with the owner of Le Zagare, Andrea, in order to learn more about the sailing instruction and the island of Ischia.  He provided me with an overview of their three day beginner sailing class and offered me a competitive hotel rate for five days with a sea view and breakfast…sold!

 

le zagareI took the ferry from Sorrento to Ischia and then caught a public bus from the port of Ischia to Casamicciola, a small, sleepy town only 5 km away with a nice marina.  Andrea told me to get off at the Bar Topless bus stop – assuring me that it had nothing to do with a topless bar!  The buses were very crowded as I arrived on a Saturday morning and the island of Ischia is a popular spot.  It seemed to be mainly popular with Italian tourists; since I heard very little English around me. This immediately made me excited; for this place must be wonderful if the Italians come here!  I asked the bus driver to tell me where Bar Topless was and he made sure that I got out at the right stop.  From there I took a short five minute walk (albeit uphill) to Le Zagare Hotel.  It’s easier to arrive by taxi from the port, but when traveling around the world for year, one needs to be economical when one can!

 

After dragging my heavy luggage up to the entrance, I was warmly welcomed in the lobby by Andrea and his wife Kate, who exclaimed, “You must be Sherry!”  They immediately offered me a big, cold glass of fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Le Zagare means “citrus fruit” in Italian, and it’s a fitting name since they have a lemon orchard behind the hotel.   It was also fitting that the hotel is painted a bright, welcoming yellow color trimmed in white – it is so bright and cheery and clean – I knew I had made a good choice.  The hotel also has a small pool with a patio space for lounging.  Le Zagare is set high on a hill, so the hotel has stunning views of the sea and the town.

 


 

Andrea had promised me a big room with a large terrace and view, but  in all honestly all of the rooms in Le Zagare have a view with some sort, however he did provide me a huge terrace off my big airy room.  The room wasn’t overly fancy; however, it was extremely clean, big, and had everything one would need.  I was especially in love with my terrace which was adorned with lounge chairs, and tables.  The first night I sat out on the terrace and watched the sun set – very happy with my ‘hotel find’! le zagare

 

I was really here for sailing, though, and the blue water was calling!  Prior to this I had only been a passenger on sailboats, but I’ve always wanted to learn more.  Andrea however, was an experienced captain used to adventure.  He grew up sailing off of the island of Ischia.  He became competitive in the sport and completed two yacht races around the world on board Gatorade in 1989 and Brooksfield in 1993.  In addition, he has been in command of numerous other yachts on every ocean.  He was a sailor first, and then a hotel owner.  After all, the hotel was a business that has been in his family for years, but when he retired from racing he came back to Italy to run the hotel and added the sailing school.  He has a nice partnership with his Australian wife, Kate, who runs much of the hotel side of the business while he focuses on the sailing school.

 

le zagareThe beginning three day course consisted of one hour of “classroom/terrace”: training on the physics, mechanics, and theory of sailing.  This is when I had to dust off the cobwebs in my brain and take myself back to high school physics to re-learn the Bernoulli Principle, in addition to learning the correct terminology for the parts of the boat and the types of maneuvers we would be doing.

 

Next we walked down to the marina and had hands on experience for the next four hours.  We learned how to prepare the boat, change/hoist sails, tie knots, and navigate tacks.   We even learned how to pick up a man overboard.  Don’t worry, we didn’t throw anyone over, we simply practiced with a life preserver.  I had an ample chance to try everything…including time for a wonderful sandwich lunch on the boat. Luckily there was no test to pass at the end of three days.  le zagareHowever, I felt as if I had passed by the sheer fact that I hadn’t fallen overboard. The class was enough to get you comfortable with the sport of sailing and with being on the water.  One day we even had to try and outrun a storm and race back to the marina.  We pulled into the marina, got the sails down and tied up just when it started to hail.  We all ran below deck and hid out there eating leftover fruit from lunch and drinking Limoncello until the weather cleared.

 


 

If you aren’t interested in a sailing course, but still want to work on your tan and be out on the sea, then you could simply be a passenger for the day on the boat. sitting back and relaxing as the students raise sails and learn to navigate.  If the thought of sailing seems scary (or nauseous), then there are plenty of other things to do on Ishcia.  Kate was constantly providing me with ideas of places to go and assistance on how to get there.  She even let me use their bus passes and phone cards that she had – going above and beyond what I would ever expect of a hotel.  The breakfast they served was plentiful with some wonderful background music for ambiance.

 

le zagareIshcia is known for its spas and thermal pools, as well as the La Mortella Botanical Garden and various castles to explore.  There are about six little fishing towns peppered throughout the island that are worth visiting, all connected by a simple to use bus line circling the island.  There are also hiking and biking trails in addition to good, peaceful beach time. However, my favorite thing to do was to simply pick up some salami, cheese, tomatoes, and beer utilizing my broken Italian language skills and sit on my beautiful terrace eating my snacks and watching the sun set.

 

le zagareMy stay at Le Zagare was one of my favorite stops on my two month tour of Italy.  Thanks to the hospitality of Andrea and Kate I felt like Le Zagare was my home away from home.  My advice to anyone vacationing near the Amalfi Coast, skip Capri and head to Ischia for some real Italian culture, sea, and sunsets. 


To learn more about Le Zagare check out their website at:

www.lezagareischia.it

email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Le Zagare

Via V. Emanuele, 10

Casamicciola Terme 80074

Tel:  081.994075 

©Sherry Ott

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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