Ischia is a volcanic Island with breathtaking views and unique weather conditions that change season after season amidst the pristine habitat of valley and hills, rocks, beaches and promontories, pine forests, woods and mountain. The four primordial elements – air, earth, fire and water – are a perfect synthesis of the Island countryside. Inland, tall trees open onto glades coloured with white violets in places such as Cretaio, the Maddalena wood and Fondo d’Oglio. In these oases for nature lovers, migrating birds fly above a kaleidoscope of wild orchids, anemones, and extremely rare papyrus of the hot fumaroles.
Accompanied by the scent of rosemary and wild oregano, thyme and sage, nature delights in bestowing sensations from east to west, from the coasts of Campagnano and Piano Liguori, to Punta Imperatore and Punta Zaro, soaring over the spectacular vitality of the Falanga, another biological paradise that is home to lichens and elegant tropical ferns. Hidden amidst the dense vegetarian are amazing pits for storing snow, which was collected, pressed then covered with mats and chestnut wood mats and conserved until summer when it was used to cool water. The pits were dug in the green tuff rock, which is only found on Ischia and is a distinctive feature of the landscape. Broom, myrtle, laurel, oak, and ash trees play throughout with the Mediterranean light that shines upon terraces bordered by dry stone walls that encircle vineyards, orchards, citrus groves and well-tended vegetable gardens.
Wholesome flavours of the fertile land and a sea teeming with fish triumph everywhere, from peasant meals to gourmets banquets. Authentic treasures of taste, they are accompanied by a millennium-old tradition of D.O.C. wines produced from noble grapes such as Biancolella, Forastera, and Rilla (white wines) and Guarnaccia and “Per’ e Palummo” (red wines). Many local recipes use rabbit which live in the wild in the local woods (also full of mushrooms, berries and strawberry trees), but that have also been bred for centuries in pits dug out in the country, or kept in cages; practically every family and trattoria prepares “Ischia-style rabbit”.
The volcanic soil is ideal for growing tomatoes, which are normally harvested on the vine and plaited to form characteristic “pendulums” that are preserved in well ventilated, dry areas. Along the coast the daily toils of fishermen supply the most famous and esteemed fish, the red sea bream, together with sea bass, white bream, gilthead, small tuna, prawns, cuttlefish, squid and lobster which, with less prized fish that nevertheless can be extraordinary delicious, fill the menus of specialized restaurants and farm holiday establishments.
For those who love long walks and trekking, for those who enjoy tasty cousin or for fans of plants, flowers, colours and perfumes, skilfully created by Mr. and Mrs. Walton in the mid-20th century in their splendid Mediterranean and sub-tropical Garden of La Mortella, Ischia is surely a must.