La Mortella: a paradise of colors

mortella-paradisoEvery time you walk into the entrance of Giardini La Mortella seems to be living a sort of transition between the outside world and the boundless space of greenery and flowers, making it a timeless place, thanks to the flourishing plants, which fill and color every corner, come from different countries and latitudes.Tree ferns of the Southern continent, and aloe Proteas from South Africa, Yuccas and Mexican Agaves, Magnolias, Bauhinie, Palm, Cycad, are a continual discovery, a journey around the world, which attracts the most distant and exotic places. We are instead in Zaro, in the municipality of Forio, a few steps from the beach of San Francesco, in this spectacular place elected in 2004 by the Great Italian Gardens “The most beautiful Garden of in Italy”.
The birth of this enchanted garden, is only due to the love, the one between the Argentine Susana Valeria Rosa Maria Gil Passo and the famous English composer Sir William Walton, who made their nest in flower. Lady Susana has been able to transform it in 1958 in a beautiful garden La Mortella a villa like an amphitheater overlooking the sea in Forio, who had taken care of her husband, transforming over 50 years, for love, a barren quarry in an enchanted garden with a small pond in the center, filled with aquatic plants.
How it was for us, so for sure you will not be difficult to follow the route of La Mortella, open to visitors since 1992, thanks to the map that will deliver you at the entrance that highlights the points of interest and the main plants.
It starts of course from the valley, in the garden designed by Russell Page, one of the greatest landscape painters of the 1900, traversed by a stream of water and with several fountains, such as the low eight sides, an octagon at the center of a terrace always octagonal, designed and built as a gift for the eightieth birthday of Sir William, surrounded by magnolias, and by the collection of Cycadaceae.
The journey continues. We are accompanied by the chirping of birds, from the roar of water and shadows of many specimens of trees chosen for the shape and color of their foliage, as well as larger Liriodendron tulipifere, about twenty feet high, which produce yellow flowers like tulips by hosting their trunks baskets in which they live epiphytic plants: orchids, Tillandsias, ferns and other bromeliads. Arriving at the main fountain, you can see tree ferns and Geranium maderense, while on the warmer side stands a collection of palm trees Brahea, Yucca, Agave and succulents, lovers more exposure sunny and dry.
At this point, you have to stop at the magnificent terrace of the bar, which overlooks the lush nature, to enjoy a pleasant moment of relaxation before heading to the upper garden, designed and developed by Lady Walton since 1983, the year of master’s death.
In a position that dominates the entire Forio, there is the Rock of William, where are the ashes of the master; it is a natural stone pyramid, which William Walton called “his stone” the day on which the property was purchased.
In the most remote area, far right with the Rock of William, is the Nymphaeum, which appears as an element of surprise in the entire garden. Where the landscape of the Aude is exuberant, colorful, asymmetrical, lush, the Nymphaeum is based on a geometric hedges of well-modeled. The water that feeds the fountain flowing from a small cave, carved out of the rock of the mountain, and the source is guarded by a statue of a reclining Venus. Here, accompanied by the murmur of the water, lie the ashes of Lady Walton.
Not far away is the imposing Temple of the Sun, which is divided into three large spaces located in an ancient cistern of rainwater for irrigation converted, with the walls lit by the rays of the sun filtering through openings in the ceiling and bas-reliefs of mythological inspiration, by Simon Verity.
Let us now just drive by your sense of smell. Fragrant herbs and shrubs, with a collection of ornamental sage, geranium aromatic, thyme, lavender and plectranthus will captivate you, taking you to the most scenic place, the Greek theater, which at night offers a particularly striking set design.
The summer concert season organized by the Fondazione William Walton and La Mortella, which always presents itself as a center of study for talented young musicians also offering scholarships, it is here that gives you an appointment for evenings of jazz, theater, cinema, entertainment, opera. The Foundation, now the owner of the garden, handles all: organizes visits to the garden, master classes for young musicians and concerts for the public in the Recital Hall, chamber music, and in fact the Greek theater, where concerts are held en plein air with youth orchestras.
Both in variety and richness of the collections La Mortella can be regarded as a botanical garden, the plants have not been placed on the basis of systematic or illustrative criteria, but by considerations of cultural, artistic and scenic considerations. The final effect is lush and exotic, with lush vegetation that accompanies the large volcanic rocks and sometimes seems to swallow.
In your stay in Ischia cannot miss a visit to this heavenly place!

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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
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