Friday, July 21, 2017

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Flowers in Italy

Recently I returned from a trip to beautiful Southern Italy.  I chose to visit Southern Italy because I'd already visited the northern parts down to Rome, and I wanted to see more.  Our trip started in Sorrento/Amalfi Coast area, and ended in Sicily.  I wasn't going for the wildflowers and herbs, but this turned out to be my most memorable aspect.

All of Italy is in bloom in May, and though May is the only time I've ever visited Italy, I do agree with the guidebooks that this is the best time to go.  We stayed in Sorrento, which smelled heavily of a sweet-scented floral perfume everywhere you walked.  This was not the smell of an old lady, but rather the scent of what heaven must smell like.  I wanted to bottle it up and take it home to take a whiff whenever I get caught up in the stress of daily life (which happens almost daily!).  

In truth, I don't know which of the hundreds of blooming flowers were creating the scent – and it could have been the lemon trees set all over town, in patches of groves.  I do believe though, that it was the collective scent of hundreds of flowers, plus lemon trees, all blossoming to the fullest after a sleepy winter.

It was hard to leave Sorrento's intoxicating scent, but we had to carry on our journey.  We continued to Palermo, Sicily, where we visited the Orto Botanico – Botanical Gardens.  As was typical of Sicily, the herb section was not in the place it  stated on the map, so I did not find this section until the end.  Once I did, I wanted to photograph every herb I saw, but had to refrain from driving my husband completely crazy.

Following a few days in Palermo, with a stop in Cefalu, we traveled to the Aeolian Islands off the north-east coast of Sicily, to the island Lipari.  In my guidebook, I read about an "accessible hour-long stroll" on the northern side of the island with incredible views of the other islands.  We took a bus to Quattropani, and right after stepping off the bus, immediately booked it towards the large field of wildflowers in front of me to take photos.

As we proceeded our "stroll" downhill towards the next town of Acquacalda, I continued to notice the roadside wildflowers and herbs everywhere.  Adorable houses maintained their own gardens with wildflowers and roses.  Of everything I saw, I believe I've identified the following: fennel, pineapple weed, Queen Anne's Lace (aka Wild Carrot), olive trees, orange and lemon trees, Italian Oregano, oats, poppies, and tons of Milk Thistle.

Though the "stroll" turned out to be a 5km 4-hour hike down a bumpy, windy, deserted road, with an almost-deserted ghost town at the end, I can still say this is now my fondest memory of our trip.  I am still studying my photos to identify these plants for medicinal properties, some of which I cannot figure out, but am very sure they are not "just some weed".

Here is one I need help with...can you identify this plant?  If so, please send me a message through the contact form on this site.