Ica boasts characteristic dunes and a vast desert etched with enigmatic figures, the Nazca Lines, transformed into fertile fields by ancient cultures: The Paracas and the Nazca. Land of valleys, sun, beaches and a Natural Reserve inhabited by a lush variety of flora and fauna, it is also a mysterious land of villages, home of fine wine and "pisco", Afro-Peruvian music, and an oasis like the Huacachina, a patch of life in the heart of a blanket of sand.Just when you thought the landscape was dry enough for Martians, out jumps Ica, Peru’s agricultural ‘miracle in the desert’ that churns out Californian amounts of asparagus, cotton and fruits, as well as laying claim to being the nation’s leading (and best) wine producer. Ica, like Pisco, sustained significant earthquake damage in 2007 – the graceful cathedral, though still standing, has been condemned, while two other churches are undergoing lengthy repairs. Most people who make it this far bed down in infinitely more attractive Huacachina 4km to the west, but Ica has reasons to be cheerful too: the south coast’s best museum (outside Arequipa) resides here, plus – arguably – the finest winery in Peru. If Nazca seems too much of a circus, it’s also possible to organize Nazca Line excursions from Ica – the desert etchings lie 1½ hours to the south.