‘Nature is a temple’ as French poet Charles Baudelaire wrote, and Ischia island is the perfect place to understand this metaphor.

With its volcanic nature, specific micro-climate, spa waters and an abundance of hot water springs and thermal aquifers and fumaroles, Ischia is highly varied with a huge variety of green spaces. Those coming to the island for the first time are surprised by its luxuriant vegetation with bushes and flowers flourishing in the most unlikely places, a boundless nature stopping at nothing, pavements and dry stone walls included.


The island might be seen as a gigantic botanical garden where nature experts can hunt out rare ferns such as the sumptuous Woodwardia radicans or Pteris vittata, which grows on rock faces and damp walls. You might also catch a glimpse of the even rarer papyrus Cyperus polystachyus, a sweet Gladiolus inarimensis and also the white Pancratium maritium lily which crops up near the sea as well as two virtually extinct mosses which grow near the fumaroles, Barbella strongylensis and Trematodon longicollis. And these are just the rare plants.


But the island also has abundant plants and flowers typical of Mediterranean flora which prosper here with unusual vitality: myrtle, lentiscus, heather, euphorbia, a great variety of cistus, bay, strawberry trees, rosemary, capers cropping up in the dry stone walls, broom which turns the landscape yellow and suffuses the Ischia hills with its perfumes and the inebriating smilax.


Then there are the spontaneous succulents such as aloe, with its multiplicity of therapeutic virtues and opuntia, best known as prickly pear with its delicious fruit without forgetting about an extraordinary profusion of fruit trees: lemons, oranges, persimmons, plums, chestnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cherries, peaches, mandarins and apples. And around all this are the island’s vines.


The vines are the Ischia countryside’s gold.

Seen from above they punctuate the agricultural countryside with a harmonious rhythm, a bucolic idyll which emerges from the slopes of Mt. Epomeo to the sea. Ischia’s terraced vineyards in the south east of the island are especially beautiful and run all the way down to the sea. For a view of these you need to go to the Campagnano area, the ancient farming village of Piano Ligori, perhaps during the grape harvest, to understand the heroic effort involved in cultivating these vines.


They are remote lands where vertical gradients would put anyone off planting a vine, where machinery is of no assistance and all work is manual labour. During the grape harvest at these latitudes, days are an ongoing up and down across ‘vertical vineyards’ with grapes carried on farmers’ heads in large containers like tightrope walkers in the September heat.

And let’s not forget the flowers!

Twenty or so wild orchids grow across the island’s land and the most significant are: Aceras anthropophorum, Cephalanthera damasonium and longifolia, Dactylorhiza romana and saccifera, Epipactis microphylla, Limodorum abortivum, Neotinea intacta, Ophrys apifera, Orchis coriophora and papilionacea, Serapias cordigera and the ‘tongue’ variant Spiranthes spiralis.


These are to be found in the woods in the warmer seasons, ethereal and delicate, so different from their enlarged tropical cousins, much smaller and more minute but by no means less attractive. They bring an air of exoticism and far off lands to the natural Ischia temple. Lots of other flowers make Ischia a flower garden with Ipomea standing out in its more frequent blue variety. Also known as ‘campanella’ in Italian, this plant covers whole terraces and climbs up anything. The festoons it produces when it ‘climbs’ a tree or a lamp post are pure expressions of the green island’s natural energy.




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