Ischia keeps surprising me. As soon as I start to think I’m beginning to understand the island, it suddenly shows another side to me. It’s a volcanic island with fertile soil and has a rich agricultural and wine-making history. But it also has a famous residential botanical garden, visited by garden historians and enthusiasts from around the world – i Giardini La Mortella in Forio.
British composer William Walton and his Argentian wife Susana Walton moved to Forio in 1949. Susana, the mastermind of the gardens, began in 1956 with the initial layout designed by British landscape architect Russell Page. She worked on the garden for the rest of her life in Forio, growing it into the famous subtropical Mediterranean garden we know today with exotic rare plants, rocky paths, greenhouses, fountains, and pools. As William Walton was also a composer, La Mortella also produces a summer and autumn concert season with weekend chamber music and orchestral concerts on site.
As I walked around La Mortella, I thought about how this is Ischia, too. How it inspires creativity and music and art and curiosity and learning. There was a group of professional gardeners and garden historians taking an intensive 3-day gardening course focusing on the history of the garden, the types of plants and trees chosen for this particular climate, and how these gardening techniques could be applied to urban gardens and landscapes to create better living environments.
This stuff gets me really excited that I live here. While a lot of people come here for relaxing summer holidays at the beach and spa, there are also people who come here to discover and learn things.
I had spent 15 years of my life in cities prior to moving to Ischia and I thought I would feel isolated and far away from things, but actually it’s the opposite. I feel closer to life here than I did when I lived in a city.