The Castello Aragonese is easily the most impressive historical monument in Ischia. It stands on a volcanic rock connected to the island by a bridge built in 1438 by Alfonso of Aragon. The Castle, overlooking the vast horizon of the sea, was originally built as a castrum in 474 BC by Gerone of Siracusa and, after a long period of abandonment, reached its golden period during the fourteenth century.

Under the Aragonese dynasty, it became a political, cultural and spiritual centre of notable interest. The Renaissance court of the noble poet Vittoria Colonna, saw the peak of the castle's splendour. Her court raised the Castello to heights of unheard glory: it breathed new life into the place; the arts and sciences flourished as never before under these skies - even Michelangelo was enticed here - but the decline had already begun in the 15th century and continued for more than 100 years.

La Mortella is the spectacular subtropical and mediterranean garden developed since 1956 by the late Susana Walton, Argentinian wife of the British composer Sir William Walton.

In 1956 Lady Walton asked the famous landscape architect Russell Page to provide a design for the layout of the garden that would include the dramatic volcanic rocks. The design of the garden was conceived with refinement and ability, taking advantage of the suggestive natural landscape with its openings towards the Mediterranean Sea.

La Mortella is divided into two parts: a lower garden, called The Valley, and an upper garden on The Hill, terraced with retaining walls. The many areas of the garden are linked by a network of walks, paths, ramps and steps that climb the dry walls allowing the visitors to reach the upper hill, where they can enjoy breathtaking views of the Bay of Forio.

The garden spreads for about 2 hectares and has a major collection of exotic, rare plants that is constantly widened and developed, year after year. The diversity and wealth of the collection is such that La Mortella can be considered a botanic garden. Fountains, ponds, streams are scattered everywhere and allow the cultivation of a various array of water-loving plants such as papyrus, lotuses and tropical water lilies. The garden has three tropical greenhouses: the Victoria House, the Orchid House and the Temple of the Sun.

Interesting garden features are the Thai House, a quiet place of meditation surrounded by an Orient-inspired garden, with lotuses, peonies, bamboos and oriental maples; the Crocodile Pool, still in the Hill Garden is fed by a stream that runs among olive trees and agapanthuses; the Nymphaeum, a surprising formal corner emerging from the Mediterranean maquis, and William’s Rock, where the ashes of the late composer are kept.

Throughout the world garden lovers and plantsmen know and appreciate Lady Walton’s work and passion which produced this enchanted garden. Her genius and creativity are celebrated by an orchid hybrid that was created in 2005 by the Italian Orchid breeder sig. Pozzi: Miltassia Lady Susana Walton. This can be admired today in the Orchid House at La Mortella.

Read more: La Mortella Gardens Ischia


Article: About.com - Italy Travel

Ischia Thermal Parks and Healing Spas

Where to go for treatment spas and thermal pools on the island of Ischia

By , About.com Guide

Ischia, an island in the Bay of Naples, is known for its thermal pools with healing waters and its health spas. The water from the natural hot springs, heated by volcanic action, is believed to be the most radioactive in Europe and is good for a variety of health treatments including rheumatism. The thermal springs have been popular since Greek and Roman times and spas and resorts have been built up around the best ones.

Ischia sees fewer tourists than its neighboring island, Capri, although in summer it's popular with Italians and Germans. The island is a good place for a relaxing vacation, especially in spring and fall. In addition to thermal pools there are beaches, geysers, gardens, ancient ruins, and a castle.

I asked Francesca Di Meglio, whose family comes from Ischia, about Ischia spas and thermal pools and she provided me with this information. She says that all of the thermal pools are helpful, based on her personal experience after three knee surgeries, and that they all help your skin tremendously.

You don't actually need to stay in a fancy hotel to partake of the healing treatments. Yes, some of the hotels, especially the fancy ones, have their own thermal pools and treatment spas but you could simply stay at an affordable hotel and go to the gardens or spas or pay to enter the treatment centers at one of the hotels. Most of them offer this kind of service.

Here are Ischia's top thermal resorts and spas to go to for healing treatments:

  • Negombo in Lacco Ameno is Francesca's favorite place for thermal pools. The ten thermal pools are made of concrete and are found in the mountainside, so that they blend in with nature. There is also a beach so you can swim in the sea, too. Negombo is a thermal pool park, and you don't need a reservation. You can just show up, pay the fee and enter. If you want massages or some other personal treatment though, you should call ahead and make a reservation. Negombo website, in Italian.
  • Poseidon is the most famous and largest of the thermal parks. It is lovely, set next to the sea where you can swim, and has about 20 pools of different temperatures, some with waterfall or hydro massage. The thermal pools here are typical pools fed by natural hot springs. There are gardens, restaurants, and a bar. It's a little expensive. Poseidon Gardens is on the Bay of Citara, on Ischia's west side.
  • Cava Scura, in Sant' Angelo, is probably considered the best healing treatment spa and their thermal pools are thought to be the oldest.
  • Aphrodite thermal park in Maronti (near Sant' Angelo) has a great reputation. Aphrodite has eight thermal pools and a beach. Classic treatments, such as mud baths and massage, are available.
  • Castiglione is a more economical choice for thermal pools, making it popular with kids and families, so it can be crowded and less relaxing. If you're traveling with kids, Castiglione would be a good choice. The thermal springs here have been known since Roman times. In addition to the nine thermal pools, there are an Olympic-sized pool with sea water and two covered pools.
  • Nitrodi in Buonopane (in the comune di Barano) has healing showers and the water is best known for helping with skin ailments.

Private Seafront Platform

Our guests can make use of the beautiful La Rotonda sul Mare residence facilities with seafront platform, bar, pedal boat and kayas, compliments of Colella Family Hospitality.

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Learn to Make Pizza

Learn to make real Napolitan style pizza and impress your friends and family. Lorenzo will take you through step by step so you can take with you a true Ischian souvenier.

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