You are an avid traveler. You can’t stay at home more than a month. Something very strong raises you from the easy chair and sends you to the next continent, country, city…. Traveling is your passion. But your other passion is gardening. You like to plant and to do your best to grow your wards to admire their flowers or fruits. How to connect these two passions? Is it possible at all? The answer is a cactus.
A prickly little bundle patiently sits while you travel, and waits for a whole month without demanding anything: watering, fertilization, weeding, pruning…. All it wants is to see you again. It gladly greets you on your return. You water it a little, tell it about your impressions of this or that corner of the world, its nature, people, and traditions. You even show it your most successful pictures. Your cactus listens, absorbing more and more knowledge about the world it will never see, and one day – once a year or even in several years – it blossoms. Its only flower is beautiful, and this is the modest gratitude of your attentive listener for all your numerous travel stories.
Cacti live a long life. It’s possible your prickly favorite will outlive you, and one day, your son or daughter will start to tell it their travel stories. That was the case of Giuseppe D’Ambra and his father, residents of Ischia, an island off the southwest coast of Italy not far from the famous island of Capri.
D’Ambra Sr. liked cacti and gathered an impressive collection of them at his home in Forio, Ischia. D’Ambra Jr. grew up among these funny prickly bundles, but probably had not been in love with them until he became a sailor. In his travels, he visited Arizona, in the U.S.A. He was so deeply impressed by this piece of another world on Earth and especially by its cacti, that he started meticulously to expand his fathers collection by bringing home succulents on each of his sea voyages.
Eventually, the collection became so big that their garden was not able to contain all the plants anymore. In 2005, they bought a neighboring plot of land and established a cactus park which is known today as Giardini Ravino. It is an area of 6,000 square meters that hosts 400 species of cacti and succulents (some of them are almost a century old), Cycads, Palm Musaceae, olives, citrus fruits and plants, and different aromatic herbs. You even can meet a peacock among these botanical rarities. The park is also the site of concerts and art and craft exhibitions, and has apartments to rent. It’s possible to buy natural homemade cosmetics in a shop.
Of course, the natural springs and amazing thermal complexes built on them, are the main reason people visit Ischia, but I encourage you to allocate one day or, at least, a morning for visiting Cactus Park by Giuseppe D’Ambra. Even if you are not a big fan of cacti, you will be impressed by the wild imagination of Mother Nature.
Cactus Park of Ischia: Via Provinciale Panza, 140b, 80075 Forio NA, Italy.