The Italians aren’t great walkers; we learnt that soon after coming to live in Italy. Footpaths are rare, where they exist there are seldom signposts and more often than not they are overgrown! To start with I couldn’t understand why but slowly I realised that in winter it was bitingly cold (often) and in summer the beach is much more appealing when it is too hot to do more than sit under a large umbrella.
But we like walking and I also wanted to see the wild flowers to help me understand what grows naturally here. Then we also developed an interest in visiting the numerous Etruscan necropoli in the area. Most are completely abandoned, the archaeologists having done their work of recording their contents and the choice items having been sent to museums locally and internationally the areas are left untouched. BUT slowly the local councils have realised that they have a great incentive for tourists to visit the area, buy quality local produce and use restaurants, hotels etc. So the areas where the tombs are situated often have footpaths to them, usually reasonably signposted and generally the paths are trodden enough to keep them open ah! the perfect place to walk.
Add to this the fact that the areas are not farmed, no sprays are used; you have the perfect place to see native flowers growing as they should in perfect harmony.
One of the first books I read after arriving here was DH Lawrence’s ‘Etruscan Places’ in the first chapter he describes arriving at Cerveteri and finding many plants new to him he asked the children who were guiding him “What’s this” pointing at a flower. He was told, as I have since been told “It’s a flower”; the knowledge of the majority hasn’t changed much in a hundred years and only slowly are Italians learning to love their own countryside and to perceive it to be alien.
So on Easter Sunday we had the place to ourselves and were thrilled to find three different species of orchid. On a board describing the wildlife the orchids present are Orchis coriophora, Ophrys apifera and Orchic papillionacea. Having looked in my wildflower book I’m afraid I can’t say with any certainty that these are what we saw! So I’m not much better informed than Lawrence’s boys of so long ago.
The beautifully marked foliage of Cyclamen hederafolium formed part of the vegetation and the flowers of Cyclamen Coum were everywhere. There were tufted hyacinth, scabious, tree heathers, and many flowers that I haven’t yet identified. Click on the image below to see and maybe help me ID the flowers that we saw.