La Mortella

March 23, 2011 / Places
Ischia, Campania
La Mortella is a garden on the island of Ischia, the result of a love affair. Look around you; you are in the presence of passion – the mutual passion of a English composer and a beautiful Argentinian woman, his for a place to inspire music, hers for ravishing and exotic flora.

Susana was 22 when she met the 46 year old William Walton at a British Council press conference in Buenos Aires – he proposed immediately. Only a fortnight later she accepted and despite the doubts of her family and of Walton’s friends they married within two months and moved to Italy.

On Ischia in the Bay of Naples the couple engaged landscape architect Russell Page to design a garden imposed upon volcanic rock – but it was to be Susana who laboured for fifty years to create La Mortella, planting, researching and interpreting the site.

Sir William died in 1983; since then, a foundation in his name has promoted musical education for the young and the preservation of La Mortella, which opened to the public for the first time in 1992.

Concerts are held in the hall and the Grecian-style amphitheatre and many visitors flock to see the wonders of this earthly paradise where the orchids, ferns and camelias are a living legacy of one couple’s intense feeling not only for each other, but for their island home of Ischia.

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Penny Ewles-Bergeron

by Penny Ewles-Bergeron

Writer, artist, … celebrating the many good things in Naples.

16 Responses to “La Mortella”

  1. Oh, how beautiful! And what a story. Definitely the place to go with someone special!

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  2. How spectacular!! What gorgeous photos. Will be in Ischia in June and had no idea such a place existed and now I will definitely visit this magical place. Thank you so much for the great discovery!!

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  3. My family comes from Ischia (and so does my husband), and I’ve been to Mortella. It is indeed beautiful. Tourists to Ischia should be weary of the natives and how they charge you, however. You won’t have a problem at La Mortella because the price is fixed and the people there were wonderful when I went. But you should be cautious with cab drivers, in stores, etc. Just make sure they’re not overcharging you, and don’t be afraid to negotiate if you think they’re giving you the what for. Have fun! Ischia is a beautiful place to vacation. I’ve been going there since I was two years old.

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  4. giuseppe spano (jojo)
    giuseppe spano (jojo)

    The incredible beauty of that place, the labors of love expended are only surpassed by the complete story of these star crossed lovers and the Istrian life they enjoyed together.

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  5. Linda Boccia

    What a lovely garden, of lives shared in a beautiful location. Thank you for showing us the many wonderful parts of Ischia in and around Napoli.

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  6. Paula (Giangreco) Cullison

    Bellissimo … too beautiful for words. It looks like paradise.
    When is the garden in bloom? I always like to avoid the high tourist season, if and when possible.

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  7. Lenore Chicka

    Remarkable! Obviously much love and devotion was dedicated to this
    beautiful paradise-like Garden. Heartwarming….

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  8. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Thanks to everyone. The garden opens this year on 2nd April. I visited in June but I imagine there would be plenty of blooms to enjoy at the start of the season too. See below for the website address – in English, for more info.
    It is truly a magical spot – each view through and over the garden yields new delights. It was constructed with great imagination and continued to be developed (new fountains, new pathways and plantings) up until Lady Walton’s death and I suspect she will have made wise arrangements for its future.
    The cafe’ is sited halfway up the garden so that one can look out while enjoying tea or lunch – a pretty Indian shade with mirrors stitched in gives shade to each table.
    There’s also plenty of info. about Walton’s life and music and the famous John Piper screen used for the first performance of Walton’s Facade is on view too. Edith Sitwell poked a metal loudspeaker through the hole in the centre to deliver the poetry to the audience.

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  9. Len Calabrese

    La Mortella is an absolutely enchanting, captivating, special place.
    Otherworldly. It’s like a living, breathing impressionist masterpiece.
    We were there last October as part of a Music At Sea Cruise on Celebrity. Brooks Ahron’s played a wonderful concert on Sir William’s piano in the small concert hall. Then we had a lovely lunch in the cafe. Quite memorable.

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  10. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Thanks again everyone. One day perhaps I’ll attend a concert there too. Katherine: my recommendation would be for a visit in May perhaps. It’s not too hot then. Trains run very frequently and fast (FrecciaRossa) from the Termini station in Rome to Naples, from whence you can get on an ferry to the island, leaving from Beverello. We took a short bus ride to the garden but there are also taxis (the cost is considerably higher). For comprehensive info. on Naples in English, have a look at http://www.napoliunplugged.com, and other websites providing info. on Ischia itself. I hope you have a lovely trip.

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  11. Gabby Strogen

    This story brings to mind the Beauchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, Canada
    worth the visit

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