Gardens of Italy

Gardens of Italy

Ann Laras

Frances Lincoln editor


Exotic garden created by Luigi Silvestro Camerini from 1947

Water Garden designet by Ermanno Casasco for Paolo Fulceri Camerini from 1988



Negombo occupies a sheltered spot between Mount Zaro and Mount Vico, on the shores of the Bay of San Montano in the north-west corner of the volcanic island of Ischia. When the botanist Duke Luigi Silvestro Camerini first came here in 1947 he immediately fell in love with the place. He bought all the land in the bay and arranged for exotic trees and plants which he had come across on his travels around the world to be shipped over, so that he could create a botanical garden. He also mapped the natural hot springs.

During the 1970s and 1980s the garden was open to visitors, offering thermal baths in the surroundings of the botanical gardens. Then in 1988 Luigi Camerini's son, Paolo Fulceri Camerini, employed landscape architect Ermanno Casasco to give the park a form and a structure. This he has done in a very poetic and talented way, creating thermal baths of every type and carefully integrating them among the tropical plants introduced by Luigi and the natural vegetation of holm-oaks, laurels, maritime pines, olive trees and carobs.

It is amazing to think of the hot water of the springs rushing under one's feet and then cascading out of the mountain as a waterfall, or being calmly collected in pools of every imaginable shape. The garden has 67 volcanic steam springs, 29 catch basins and 103 hot springs.

It is not simply relaxing to spend a day in Negombo; it is also very much an aesthetic experience. Who would not want to sit in a pool of water at a temperature of 30-40°C (85-105°F), surrounded by beautiful rocks and lush greenery and a fantastic sea view?

It is a glimpse of paradise. The Greeks who settled here in the bay in 770 BC might well have agreed.