|My first view of the streets of Ischia|
From the start of my travels from Ercolano to Ischia, I had good fortune. I've been complaining about my heavy luggage, but on this day, at every difficult moment, there was someone to help me. The owner of the B&B in Ercolano had her son carry my luggage up three flights of stairs in the train station, the escalator was actually working at the train station in Naples, the taxi driver took care of the luggage when he drove me to the harbor for the ferry. Even better, when I called the owner of the B&B in Ischia to tell him of my arrival, he not only met me at the harbor, but provided the taxi that transported us back to the B&B. Hey, I could get used to this kind of treatment!
|Raffaela and the owner, Mario|
|La colazione: a typical breakfast spread at the guesthouse|
Another great thing about Maison Twentyfive is its location, right off the main street, via Sogliuzzo, midway between Ischia Porto and Ischia Ponte. It takes about 30 minutes to walk to Ischia Porto, and 10 minutes to get to Ischia Ponte's Via Luigi Mazzella, where the passeggiata (evening stroll) takes place. Even better, it's due passi (a short walk) to a free beach (Spiaggia dei Pescatori), where I spent many hours enjoying the sea.
Besides the food, Raffaela and Mario provided good company, giving me suggestions about where to go and how to get there. Before my departure from Ischia, Mario suggested I take the ferry instead of the hydrofoil back to Naples, for half the cost, and even offered to get the ticket for me on his daily walk to the harbor. Since I had to leave at 6:30 a.m., I took advantage of his offer, as well as his willingness to arrange for a reliable taxi driver to get me to the harbor on time. I enjoyed hearing Mario's tale of how his sogno (dream) had developed over the years, and how he has restructured a family dwelling into a guesthouse.
After years of traveling in Italy (and last year in France), I've had many wonderful experiences at a variety of hotels, B&Bs, hostels and guesthouses. But I've never met an albergatore (hotel manager) quite as exceptional, attentive, open and generous as Mario.
I'm planning a trip to Ischia again this year, and was dismayed to find that the prices at Mario's have nearly doubled! Last year I paid 45 euros ($61) per night for a week long stay. Very reasonable! This year the prices have increased to 81 euros ($110) per night, during the same week in September that I was there last year. Out of my price range, and way overpriced for the quality of the rooms. Yes, the hospitality was exceptional, but the room itself was nothing special, comprised of a bed and a bathroom. So I'm sorry to say that I won't be returning to Mario's B&B. Instead, I've found better options through airbnb: in fact, I booked an entire apartment near the beaches in Ischia Ponte, with a full kitchen, living room, bedroom, washing machine, internet and a terrace with a view, for @ 28 euros ($38) per night. Can't beat that price! I'd advise doing more research before considering staying at Maison Twentyfive.