Our last day in Ischia was upon us – the incredibly beautiful volcanic island which had brought us such scenes as the pastel-coloured wonders of Sant’Angelo, and the historical magnificence of the Castello Aragonese. We chose to spend these final hours in the area of our hotel, and the nearby port town of Forio where our boat had swept up onto the island a few days previously.
As we wondered down the winding hill to Forio and the sea beyond, we came upon a garden peculiarly loaded with succulents and prickles. Enticed by the collection that lay within, we ventured inside, finding that the gardens were not only open to the public, but entailed a magnificent assemblage of the world’s finest cacti. The name, we were to discover, was the Giardini Ravino, and within its walls grows the life’s work of one Signor Peppino, whose passion for cacti, succulents, and Mediterranean flora generated the amassed gardens we can enjoy today.
Wondering around the Giardini Ravino was quite a different experience from the lustrous tropicana provided by the Giardini La Mortella visited at the start of our trip. Rather, these gardens had an arid note, more typical of a scene from a Western movie, but the combination of cacti of every shape and size was equally as attractive, much like an abstract painting combining colours and textures quite beyond the imagination.
Despite the obviously hazardous surfaces of the cacti and their prickles, the gardens were home to a surprising number of furry and feathered residents, from rabbits and cats, to the beautiful peacocks who wandered about majestically, their feathers draped luxuriously behind them. Whether it be the weather or the time of year, there was some true flirtation in the air, and many a time we were treated to the true theatrical splendour of a peacock’s feathers in full open array, shaking and vibrating to entice the female. She didn’t look overly impressed, but we were – as the extent of peacock photos on this post probably shows.
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