Ischia, an island in the Bay of Naples, known for its thermal pools with healing waters and its miraculous natural spas. The water from the natural hot springs, heated by volcanic action, is believed to be the most radioactive in Europe and is good for a variety of health treatments including rheumatism. The thermal springs have been popular since Greek and Roman times. Ischia is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples, about 30 kilometers from the city of Naples. It is the largest of the Phlegrean Islands.
Ischia mud originates from the geologic evolution of the island where, over the centuries, many hydrovolcanic eruptions and earthquakes changed the soil composition. The hot waters and muds, all “thermal” or “hypertermal”, i.e., they are at the same time hot or very hot and very rich in minerals content. In spite of their diversity, all the muds have the same standard features: sodium, chlorine, potassium, calcium and sulphur in the form of sulphates and sulphides. Because of the variety of different chemicals found in them, different waters and mud are recommended for different treatments. The Italian Ministry of Health produces a document that has updates on which waters and muds are suitable for therapeutic treatments, illness and diseases which can be treated. According to this document, diseases which can be treated are: rheumatic diseases such as arthrosis; respiratory diseases; dermatological diseases such as psoriasis, atopical dermatitis, eczema (except for exudative bladdery forms), chronic seborrhea; gynecological diseases such as pelvis tissue sclerosis; diseases of the gastrointestinal apparatus such as gastroenteric or bilious dyspepsia, and intestinal disorders associated with constipation.
The most important therapeutic element in the water is radon. It is a gas, which is dissolved in the water and comes from an alpha particle emanated by an atom of radium. Being a gas, it is absorbed through the skin, as well as inhaled, penetrating the interior of the body with its healing effects and then disintegrating several hours later. Radioactivity is measured in nanocuries and for water to be considered radioactive it must contain a minimum of one (1) nanocurie/liter. The radioactivity of the Ischia waters is so low that it is not harmful because the gas has a reduced power of penetration (a sheet of paper is enough to stop it). It isn’t able to bio-accumulate due to its reduced period of life.
Ischia represents the capital of European thermal vacations: it holds 103 thermal springs, 69 fumarole aggregations, and more than 300 separate bath establishments. The thermal-mineral waters emanate from underground reservoirs fed by rainwater which infiltrates porous ground which is warmed by heat sources located in the depths of the soil. The water is transformed into steam and rises to the surface. The steam heats the surficial and underground water sources to generate the thermal-mineral water which is enriched by the minerals contained in the soil before rising to the surface. These waters are alkaline or acidic, containing calcium, magnesium, hydrogen carbonate, sodium, sulfur, iodine, chlorine, iron, potassium and microelements of other active substances including radon. Ischia’s water is rich in noble elements and mineral salts: sodium, one of the basic elements for the vital activity of living beings, potassium, essential for muscle dynamics, sulphur, essential for joint elasticity and calcium, which has a sedative action on the nervous system.
Ischia’s top thermal resorts and spas to go to for healing treatments:
• Negombo in Lecco Ameno is Francesca’s favorite place for thermal pools. The ten thermal pools are made of concrete and are found in the mountainside, so that they blend in with nature. There is also a beach where you can swim in the sea.
• Poseidon is the most famous and largest of the thermal parks. It is lovely, set next to the sea in which you can swim, and has about 20 pools of varying temperatures, some with waterfall or hydro massage. The thermal pools here are typical pools fed by natural hot springs. Poseidon Gardens is on the Bay of Citara, on Ischia’s west side.
• Cava Scura, in Sant’ Angelo, is probably considered the best healing treatment spa and their thermal pools are thought to be the oldest.
• Aphrodite thermal park in Maronti (near Sant’ Angelo) has a great reputation. Aphrodite has eight thermal pools and a beach. Classic treatments, such as mud baths and massage, are available.
• Castiglione is a more economical choice for thermal pools, making it popular with kids and families, so it can be crowded and less relaxing. If you were traveling with kids, Castiglione would be a good choice. The thermal springs here have been known since Roman times. In addition to the nine thermal pools, there is an Olympic-sized pool with seawater and two covered pools.
• Nitrodi in Buonopane (in the commune di Barano) has healing showers and the water is best known for helping with skin ailments.