In the 50s, Ischia was a paradise unknown to many and reserved for the few, adventurous tourists, those in love with an uncontaminated sea, and of the frankness of its people. The municipality of Forio, on the westmost coast of the island, was even more isolated: There, the daily rhythms were slow, marked by fishing and agriculture. Much like today: we still have a sweet, relaxing atmosphere, sea, and exquisite gastronomy.
By the port of Forio stood Nonna Carmela’s small restaurant: A few tables and a shaded pergola. Here, together with her son Vito, Nonna Carmela offered the true traditional dishes. Seafood fished by the boats in front of the restaurant, and the flavours of the countryside: Cherry tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, bell peppers, aromatic herbs, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. Meals were washed down by wine from the family vineyard, which stretched from the contour ploughing to the slopes of Mount Epomeo.
With time, day after day, the restaurant grew to become a guest house, and then a hotel. The Hotel Zì Carmela, with its terrace restaurant, rooms, pools, and wellness centre, today resides within a large structure once belonging to a prominent Forian family.
The structure has maintained the charm of the ancient court: The corridors of the rooms today overlook the hall, which holds within itself a secret. As the legend goes, in the location where the hall stands today there was a chapel, where the parish priest of the area used to hold mass for the three daughters of the squire, all to be married. Today, the knowledge of Nonna Carmela lives on in the recipes of Chef Nicola, while the whole family manages the hotel with love and care, and the same passion for the simple things.