Freelance journalist from Derry, Northern Ireland.
Published November 21st 2019
There's no place you'd rather be
The beautiful city of Naples on the coast of southern Italy boasts countless hot spots for tourists, with the stunning Mount Vesuvius and Castel Nuovo undoubtedly somewhere near the top of that list.
But hidden away, unknown to the majority of visitors that head to the region to soak up the sun every summer, lies Gaiola Island.
It may be one of the minor islands of Naples, but this island contains a rich history and can be found offshore in the Gulf of Naples, but only those who know exactly how to get there can enjoy all that it has to offer.
The area even offers views of the stunning Mount Vesuvius
It's even at the centre of the Underwater Park of Gaiola, which stands proud as a protected marine reserve for all that lives and breathes in the area. It isn't easy to find, but it's simple beauty and effortless serenity is well worth the trip in itself.
The island's name derives from the cavities that litter the coast of Posillipo, but there's so much more to the gorgeous reserve than meets the eye.
Its history goes way back, having been the site of a small temple to just an extension of the mainland opposite in its early stages, or so it was assumed.
But into the 17th century, the island comprised several Roman factories, and later played a key role in the defence of the Gulf of Naples.
And going back into the more recent past, the area had been inhabited by a hermit locally named 'The Wizard', as well as Land of the Siren author Norman Douglas, who lived in the villa there that now stands in ruin.
The ruins of the 19th century villa still stand to this day
The 1920s also witnessed the construction of a cable car that connected the island to the mainland, but legend has since cursed the island after regular misfortunes happened to befall those who stayed there.
The island now finds itself owned by the government of the Campania region, much to the delight of the locals. The extensive history of Isola la Gaiola continues today, but the residents of Naples know it for one thing and one thing only; relaxing.
Gaiola Island now welcomes several hundred excited citizens and fortunate travellers to its glistening blue waters and sun-drenched rocks, providing the perfect spot to chill out and forget about all of life's burdens.
Countless beach-goers make use of the natural beauty to relax from the first ray of sun until the very last, temporarily halting their zoning out for a refreshing dip into the Mediterranean.
It's hidden, compact and minuscule in the grand scheme of the glamorous beach scene of Naples, but all of these almost negative connotations combine to create one of the most graceful and irresistible spots to enjoy on your Italian getaway.