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Welcome to Beauty of the Soul Studio. Led by photographer Emily, we specialize in capturing the true inner beauty of each person, wedding, and event we encounter.

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Ischia, Italy Honeymoon Review

Ischia, Italy Honeymoon Review

As you probably know, I was recently a bride myself.  In May 2018 I married my best friend Peter and after our big celebration in Fairfax, Virginia we woke up, grabbed our bags and, as any Catholic couple would do, we flew to Italy for our perfect, romantic honeymoon!

I couldn't help but bring my camera along.  We had only two activities planned in advance, both during our first half in Rome - visit Pope Francis with our special "Sposi Novelli" tickets, where we got to receive a blessing directly from Pope Francis as he visited newlyweds dressed in wedding attire in St. Peter's Square; and take the Scavi tour, where we saw the ruins underneath St. Peter's Basilica and said a prayer in front of the bones of St. Peter himself.

I ended up not bringing my camera along during much of the time in Rome, (mostly because those two trips to the Vatican meant not being allowed to bring my camera, and we rarely went back to the hotel) but we had Peter's iPhone X, which took gorgeous photos without all the weight of a DSLR (I may do a blog post featuring my favorite of those images in the future!) so for the first half of our trip I left my camera in the safe at our hotel.

The second half of our trip was truly the relaxing part - and the most beautiful.  We took a train down to Naples and a ferry over to a small island called Ischia.  There, we took a taxi to the Castello Aragonese (Italian for Aragon Castle), originally built in 474 BC on a volcanic islet off the coast of the island and now acting as a local attraction - and, to the surprise of many, a hotel.  I won't bore you with the details in writing - I'd rather show you just how spectacular this place is.

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The hotel is located within the former convent of the castle, previously occupied by Poor Clares and built at the end of the 16th century (but renovated for modern accommodations of course).  We stayed in one of the three "superior rooms" in the hotel.  Ours featured a panoramic view of the coast of Ischia and bridge to the castle, including views of the sea to each side of the island and other smaller islands closer to Naples and the mainland.  It was incredible and I couldn't keep myself from photographing it at all times of day.

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We never had to go more than a mile away from the castle to enjoy our 3 days here.  Just across the castle bridge was a ton of amazing restaurants and cute little shops selling everything from clothing to knick knacks to locally-produced items like lemon soap and rucolino (arugula) liquor. 

The island lacks American tourists so most of the people here speak far less English than their big-city counterparts - but that also meant they lacked the negative attitude toward Americans that can be more apparent in the bigger cities.  People were generally very friendly and inviting and only got mildly annoyed at our minimal Italian. It also meant that you had a lower chance of entering a tourist trap - all of the restaurants had delicious fresh food, and shops carried fewer of the typical tourist items you'd find in Rome or Naples (but still enough to grab a postcard and a shotglass to commemorate your visit).

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If you haven't had an Italian breakfast, you haven't had breakfast.  The hotel provided a free breakfast buffet with bread, locally-produced jams, meats and cheeses, Caprese salad, light fruit pastries, and more.  And of course, all with a sea view.

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Last but certainly not least: the castle grounds.  Visitors are welcome to explore much of the layout of the castle with its numerous chapels and towers, lush gardens, and panoramic views.  The castle changed hands multiple times over the course of its 24 century history, and unfortunately that included numerous tragedies and incidents causing destruction to the castle.  Much of it is in ruin but the current owners are working to restore and preserve the castle since its private purchase in the early 20th century.  Walking among the ruins and castle gardens is a beautiful experience.

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(These frescoes, pictured below, were located in the crypt of a destroyed 14th century cathedral and are dated to sometime in the 13th-17th century. There were no ropes keeping viewers back, or plexiglass for the frescoes to hide behind.  Obviously, I have too much respect for the history and art to actually touch these walls, but the feeling of knowing I could and that other people centuries before had done just that was a moving experience you don't often get in modern museums and larger tourist attractions.)

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Do you have questions about our trip to Italy? Looking for more tips based on our little adventure? Write a comment and I'd love to talk more about this incredible vacation!

I'm also dreaming of a cozy and romantic photo shoot on the castle grounds - perhaps an elopement shoot, honeymoon session, or destination anniversary session for a couple ready to celebrate a milestone...  *wink wink!*

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