- Discovering Ischia’s Nature
Discovering Ischia’s Nature
The woods, the gardens and the pine forests of the island of Ischia
The morphology of its territory, some parts flat, some hilly and mountainous, some affected by the various volcanic eruptions, the warmth of the thermal layers, the central position and the slanted form of Mount Epomeo, all create a diverse atmosphere.
The local microclimate creates the warm water-bearing layers of the underground that allow for an exceptional fruit and vegetable production and early maturation, making these areas precious for their high production levels. For those who love nature, a volcanic eruption created the hill of Zaro, found at the northern border of the municipality of Forio, a large area of granite rocks combined with rich vegetation, holm oaks and typical Mediterranean bushes. One shouldn’t miss the beautiful chestnut trees of Mount Epomeo and the Frassitelli Woods. Take an excursion along the steep winding paths “della Lucertola” (lizard). For those who prefer a beautiful garden a visit to “Mortella Gardens” is in order.
Holm-oak and chestnut tree woods
The green slopes of the Mount Epomeo and the lower hills, as well as the northeastern and northwestern slopes of the island, are all covered by evergreen holm-oak-trees, typical of the Mediterranean, and by the seasonal change of colours of the chestnut tree woods.
In the shadows of these magnificent woods a rich underwood has developed, and according to the season one will find mushrooms, chestnuts, asparagus and herbs, all which were essential elements and all which remain essential elements of our local cuisine. Lovers of an outdoor excursion shouldn’t miss a beautiful walk along the green slopes of our island; From Zaro – where the green foliage of the trees is in direct contact with the sea – to the woods of Cretaio and Falanga which bring you closer to Mount Epomeo.
The land animals, birds, rabbits and lizards
The most favorable period for observing the flight of many bird species is from March to May (for birds migrating from Africa to Northern Europe) and from the end of August to the second week in October (for birds migrating from Northern Europe to Africa). The marvelous songs of various bird species will make your days spent outdoors quite delightful. Ischia is a happy island where even the animals live by enjoying the respect they get from man in the environment in which they live.
Walking through the Frassitelli and Falanga woods one will easily see falcons, wild rabbits amongst the shrubs, and one of the last shepherds on the island with his flock of sheep and goats. In the springtime nature becomes an explosion of colors, the non-poisonous snakes and lizards wake up from their lethargy, the busy bees cover the flowers and make designs in the air along with the company of beautiful butterflies and insects.
Excursions and walks on the green earth of Ischia
Ischia is a jewel of a thousand facets. In every corner of this paradise one can enjoy suggestive panoramas and rediscover nature in all its splendor. The paths that cross Ischia are the result of centuries of farm work that left their signature on the island’s hills and slopes.
True accounts were written about the curative waters of Ischia, waters already made famous during Roman times; such descriptions described in detail the splendor of the landscape, the woods and gardens of the island. Letters and poems told of the wonderful days spent by visitors during their stay here; they left behind descriptions of an enchanting place, one to be rediscovered by once again following the paths from a long time ago.
Distancing oneself from the most inhabited part of the island, we discover a natural oasis of unique beauty and pieces of land which are still cultivated with vines using techniques that date from two to three thousand years ago. The cellars dug in the moist green tuff, the famous ‘parracine’ which support the terracing along the slopes of the mountain, these are the only traces of living in harmony with the land that man has left from centuries ago.
Unfortunately, today there are no policies in place to protect these recently contaminated riches from society; there is the risk that centuries of history and the equilibrium between man and nature will be destroyed. Few attempts have been made at putting a value on this great heritage; the area known as the Magdalene Woods and the Paths of the Lizard are the only example of areas that have been requalified for touristic purposes.
There are many other places and paths which are just as beautiful that should be valued… before the only thing that would be left behind was a memory often described in writing by whoever traversed these places, so that those who had never seen them in person would be able to appreciate them.
Ask your local guides questions or seek the advice of those islanders who are nature lovers; this is still the best way to discover and experience the beauty of our green island.
THE GARDENS OF THE VILLAS OF THE ISLAND OF ISCHIA
Many guests and lovers of the island of Ischia have decided to create their own home on the island; in doing so they have turned the surrounding nature into splendid villas and gardens either immersed in the characteristic Mediterranean bushes or overlooking the sea.
The most famous and renowned villa, the Mortella, has been open to the public in the last few years after the death of its founder, Sir William Walton. Previously the gardens were minded by his wife, Lady Susana Walton. The villa is an example of architecture aimed at conserving and respecting the environment. It is located in Zaro, one of the most suggestive places on the island of Ischia. The Garden, whose creation dates back to 1956, started from a stone-pit of volcanic origins. It was designed by Russell Page, one of the greatest landscape artists of this century. The available surface area is approximately 20,000 square meters and contains over 1000 rare plant species. Along with Villa Cimbrone in Ravello and the gardens of the Reggia di Caserta,it is an obligatory stop for those who visit the Campania region.