La Mortella (The Myrtle), is the former home of English composer Sir William Walton and his Argentinian wife, Lady Susana Walton. Shortly after World War Two, the couple moved to Ischia and eventually made their home on what is now the site of The Sir William Walton Foundation and La Mortella Gardens. In 1956, after having spent the previous six years divided between 6-month stints in London and Ischia, the couple decided to buy their new property at La Mortella. Having understood the potential of the site, they decided to call in landscape expert, Russell Page, who set about transforming the stone quarry on a volcanic hill, into a tropical garden paradise with an extraordinary and fascinating array of rare and exotic plant life. The gardens at La Mortella as we see them today were a labour of love for the charismatic Susana Walton who opened their doors to the public in 1991. By now, the gardens represent more than 50 years of passion, dedication and care given to her life’s work and creation.
With La Mortella split into various levels, it is on the highest part of the garden that the open-air Greek theatre resides. Throughout the summer, audiences can enjoy the Youth Orchestra concerts while surrounded by China roses and aromatic herbs, and the visual backdrop of the bay of Forio behind the performers. The unusual yet evocative mixture of tropical gardens and classical music helped La Mortella to win its award as “Il Più bel parco d’Italia” (most beautiful park in Italy) in 2004, after beating 100 nominated rivals in the Briggs and Stratton annual award. La Mortella Gardens is one of the jewels of Ischia and is not to be missed by any visitor to the island. The lush tropical paradise is awash with fascinating plants, flowers, wildlife and colourful birds as well as the added interest of visiting the former home of this convivial and charismatic couple who lived their glamorous lives devoted to their arts of music and gardening. Credit: La Mortella Gardens.
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