Monday, May 4, 2015

Ischia - La Mortella ...

Giardina La Mortella is in the northwest corner of Ischia.   The gardens were created in 1958 by Lady Susana Walton, the Argentinian wife of the English composer Sir William Walton.   The Waltons came to Ischia shortly before their marriage in 1949.   They bought land in the place call Le Mortelle - from the name of the myrtle bushes growing there between the rocks, so they called the property La Mortella.  La Mortella offers a lush experience of nature.   The part of the garden we liked most was called the Temple of the Sun.   See below for a description from the Garden's website.   I love everything about this place (that I'm only presenting a few photos from) and can't help but think that the mythological figures I photographed in the central room of the structure also represent the love that the Waltons felt for one another.

[Not far from William's Rock, the Temple of the Sun dominates an escarpment planted with a collection of Agaves, Frucreas, Aloes and grey-green palms.  The temple was built out of a converted rainwater irrigation cistern.   Inside, three large rooms are separated by 5-foot thick walls, illuminated by the rays of the sun, which filters through openings in the ceiling.  The presence of water and the decorations - bas reliefs inspired by mythology, by the British sculptor Simon Verity are suggestive of archaic places of worship.  The reliefs illustrate Apollo the God of Music and Poetry, and his affinity with the other arts and sciences, such as medicine, dance, cultivation, nature, and the forests, as well as his role as a soothsayer and guardian of the Oracle.  The first room to the left is the Birth Chamber.   Here, water springs from a rock, through the strings of Apollo's lyre; in a corner we see Leto, Appollo's mother, who embraces a palm tree at the moment of childbirth (according to the legend, Apollo was born in the shade of a palm tree).  Further on, the God is led towards Olympus in a carriage drawn by swans.  In the central room, which is spacious and bright, the bas-relief on the back wall represents Apollo on the chariot of the sun, whose golden rays are transformed into Sir William Walton's Music: "Praise ye the lord of Gold" from the oratorio Belshazzar's Feast  and "How can I sleep when love is waking," from the opera Troilus ad Cressida.   Further along we see the nine Muses, as well as mythological figures playing musical instruments and lovers embracing, a reference to Pompeian frescoes.  Below we see Apollo and Daphne, who became a laurel (Laurus nobles) in order to flee Apollo's embrace.  These reliefs are a symbolic celebration of life and the triumph of earthly pleasures.  In the third room, which is smaller and less luminous, we see The End of Mortal Life. Here, the stream of water disappears into a vortex, above which the Sybil of Cuma pensively sits.   On the far wall, the two doves point out the plant from which Aeneas will gather a golden bough in order to enter Hades:  It is a myrtle bush (this is the plant from which the property derived its name, La Mortella).  The Sybil is also a symbol of death and rebirth.  According to some legends, she was destined to live a long life, but was transformed into a cicada by Apollo in order to avoid decrepit old age.]

How can I sleep
when love

Is waking

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