Ischia: The Island of Wellbeing

There are 103 thermal springs on the island of Ischia.

These subterranean veins of water flow between the walls of earth, capturing precious minerals that are “imprisoned” within the water that emerges at the surface. Each spring has its own unique chemical properties. Ischia’s springs all share the basic characteristic of being rich in salts (ranging from around 2.5 to more than 30 grams/litre), that is to say minerals. They are also all hot or very hot, or rather thermal or hyperthermal (from 40°C upwards). Qualitatively speaking, Ischia’s springs can be divided into two large groups:

the larger group of sodium chloride (or salty) springs, which numbers seventy-seven in total, and the group of alkaline bicarbonate springs, which numbers twenty.

This reveals the secret of these waters, which can be used for a wide variety of treatments, not just beauty treatments. In fact, simply immersing yourself in one of them helps to tone and regenerate your skin. Fumaroles and vents can be found across the island, demonstrating that its beneficial volcanic activity is ongoing. Meanwhile, the natural stoves and caves for saunas are as numerous as the springs dotted around the island. And we mustn’t forget the muds, which can be used for both therapeutic and beauty treatments.

Ischia’s thermal waters are alkaline, making them a real panacea for treating various problems such as respiratory diseases, rheumatism and dermatitis. The climate and the extraordinary variety of flora are also beneficial treatment factors. While the Greeks were the first to discover the powers of thermal waters, the Romans went on to use them extensively for treatments and relaxation thanks to the development of public baths, exploiting the numerous springs on the island (as demonstrated by the tablets discovered at the Nitrodi Spring in Barano d’Ischia, where there was a small temple dedicated to Apollo and to the Nitrodiae Nymphs, custodians of the waters).

Giulio Iasolino, a doctor from Calabria and lecturer at the University of Naples, gave a huge boost to modern thermal medicine in the late sixteenth century when he surveyed all the thermal waters and fumaroles on the island of Ischia. Following on from Iasolino’s experience, in the early seventeenth century a group of Neapolitan noblemen built the “Pio Monte della Misericordia” in the municipality of Casamicciola, which was the largest spa facility in Europe at the time.

 

THE BENEFITS OF ISCHIA’S THERMAL WATERS

 

Thermal waters are associated with countless benefits and they are excellent for rheumatic diseases. The most recent findings, from 2014, tell us that people mainly resort to thermal treatments for musculoskeletal disorders (osteoarthritis and rheumatism) and respiratory and digestive problems. However, they are also renowned for their use in the treatment of dermatological, vascular, urinary and gynaecological issues. “The most substantial evidence for the efficacy of thermal treatments for musculoskeletal disorders regards osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis.” Ischia’s thermal waters are also an effective treatment for preventing and combatting allergic rhinitis.

It is even more interesting to discover that thermal treatments do not replace existing drugs for inflammatory rheumatic disorders, but are instead used alongside them. According to research carried out by the group led by Professor Cozzi on patients with diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, “mud therapy boosts the effect of the drugs over the five months following thermal treatment, with a reduction in inflammation and an improvement in dermatological symptoms and pain, thereby leading to a considerable reduction in the use of the drugs themselves.”

As a result, its volcanicity makes Ischia one of Europe’s principal thermal centres. Thanks to its waters, its thermal parks and its well-equipped and highly qualified facilities, we can describe the entire island as an immense garden of natural wellbeing.