Since Nebuchadnezzar raised the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to soothe his bride's nostalgia for the of her childhood, the garden has always been second nature, fashioned by man based on his culture and experience. But these days the garden is also an ideological and ethical battlefield between the "suburban utopia" of the always perfectly manicured lawn and the contradictory rebellion of the wilderness lovers, disciples of Thoreau. Fortunately, there is a third party - that of Alexander Pope, for example, who advised landscape architects of his time simply: "Always consult the local genius."

The Negombo park

Thermal and marine pools, woods, gardens, lush flower beds, the sea and volcanic rock: all enclosed in a single, magical and fascinating place. It is Negombo, a hydrothermal park located in the bay of San Montano in Ischia.

San Montano is a deep bay enclosed between Mount Vico and the promontory of Zaro in one of the most evocative corners of Ischia, an island where the culture of bathing has spread since the early decades of the twentieth century. The garden that we can admire today is the result of a long work begun in 1947 by Duke Luigi Silvestro Camerini, an entrepreneur and anti-fascist from Veneto (but also a traveler whom many remember perennially dressed in colonial clothes, who fell in love with the South after his confinement in Ponza), continued by the heirs and, in 1988, by the passionate intervention of Ermanno Casasco. In Camerini's original intention, the territory was to host an irrigated botanical garden with a complex, albeit rudimentary system of tanks and crossed by paths carved into the rock of Mount Vico.

It has not been an easy task to create a unique and vast property like Negombo, since at the time the land was divided into plots cultivated as vegetable gardens owned by many different families. To unite them it took a few years and not a few battles, but, in the end, cicas, cocos, Ficus elastica trees, Zamia and bird of paradise plants arrived which also justified that curious name stolen from a Ceylon bay, visited on one of the trips by the Duke. The spirit of Mediterranean nature was not supplanted by the arrival of African, Australian, Japanese or Brazilian essences. Its presence is perceived but it is not in contrast with the other essences. In the seventies the place evolved from a private to a hydrothermal park open to the public (to achieve self-financing and save this green heritage) and, in the eighties, the Duke's son, Paolo Fulceri Camerini, after having built the main swimming pools and services of bars and restaurants, he perceived the need to redesign the structure of the garden to make it a more harmonious and less 'wild' whole.

The beginning of a new chapter

The arrival of the first plants in the 1950s.

Since 1988 the landscape designer Ermanno Casasco was in charge of the work, whose main commitment was to establish a visual continuity within the garden and develop new areas.

Commitment certainly completed and still today a constant “work in progress”. Hence the introduction of Mediterranean plants that were not present (or that had not survived) such as myrtle, olive tree, cork, but also, consistently with the original idea of ​​a botanical park, the planting of new Australian or American essences, perfectly integrated into the whole (Metrosideros, Malaleuca, Macrozamia, Erytrina, etc.etc). And here, from a strictly architectural point of view, the recovery of the terraces, the dry stone walls, the central staircase, the insertion of water falls on the cliffs and the creation of new thermal experiences rather than trivial pools (the Labyrinth, Maya , the Templar, Onphalos, Nesti). Last but not least, the introduction of an "artistic" path into the landscape with the installation of numerous works of contemporary art starting with the large ceramic arch by Arnaldo Pomodoro "Arc-en-ciel" and the work "Riva dei Mari". Il Volo, a bronze work by Giuseppe Maraniello. The "Strale" by Lucio del Pezzo, "The eyes of Neri and Nesti" by Laura Panno, "Sprigionamenti" by Gianfranco Pardi, "Incontri" by Simona Uberto.

One of the strengths of Negombo is that this landscape cannot be separated from the practical function of the place. After all, the exploitation of the thermal baths for medical and health purposes is, as we all know, ancient history. The Romans already knew and frequented these places, where stood villas and gardens of great beauty. With ups and downs, over the centuries the spas were not completely abandoned and were rediscovered, as mentioned, at the beginning of the century, in conjunction with the enhancement of bathing.

A cornucopia .. of water

The Bay of San Montano and the settlement of the Negombo Park are among the richest and most fertile basins of thermal wells.

The archaeological site

In the bay of San Montano there is the necropolis of the ancient Pithecusa, one of the oldest Greek settlements in the West. Around 770 BC the Eubei disembark there, probably attracted by the protected position of the bay which offered their ships a safe shelter from winds and storms (both by moving to the two sides of Monte Vico and, in extreme cases, by pulling boats ashore on the beach).
The mastery of the Eubei in the terracotta amphorae production has allowed the discovery of many finds of great archaeological value which today can be admired in the local museum of Villa Arbusto. The perfection of the shapes and the chromatic taste reach their peak in the beautiful Nestor's Cup.
kotyle rodia "Coppa di Nestore"

The oldest document in the Greek language

Nestor's Cup on Wikipedia


Since the time of the Etruscans, the thermal waters were used by priests for religious rituals; with the advent of the Romans, thermalism spread enormously with the creation of numerous spas throughout the Italian territory. Thanks to the complex and innovative scientific studies, which began to develop in that period, the first therapeutic protocols were also introduced.
This natural wealth has made Ischia famous since ancient times: Strabo and Pliny often mentioned in their writings the therapeutic power of the island's waters. The fame of Ischia's thermal baths has undergone ups and downs over the centuries: known at the time of Magna Graecia, they were rediscovered by the Romans of the imperial era and, after centuries of oblivion, were studied by the doctor Jasolino at the end of the 1600s.
Contemporary art
Il volo
The striking bronze angel of the Neapolitan artist Giuseppe Maraniello, timeless and with both sexes. It stands out from the rocky wall dominating the dense paths and hovering towards the sea observes the bay
L'Arco in Cielo, Rive dei Mari
The two works by Arnaldo Pomodoro, a majestic green arch in enamelled and vitrified steel in the center of the park and a mysterious marine structure installed inside the Al FuGà restaurant
Gli occhi di Neri e Nesti
Full sculptures by Laura Panno, transparent, smooth, which seem smoothed by the sea, keep the memory of the volcano's lapilli in their glow. They guard the cave and make its healthy stop magical
Lo Strale per il Negombo
A colorful zigzag with nervous angles by Lucio Del Pezzo, which like a lightning falls on the earth, and like a tree soars towards the sky. A prehistoric sign, a slender and powerful visual blast
The fluorescent yellow cube by Gianfranco Pardi which, falling from space, seems to have landed in the upper part of the crags. The full and empty of the intricate interior planes casts complex shadows on the ground at sunset
Colored figures about 40 cm (16") high in glazed ceramic, handmade by Simona Uberto. Installed on the cutting wall for a multiple view, suspended in the empty space, they form a single expressive chorus.

Una Seconda Natura

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