Monday, October 27, 2014

Italy, part the second: serendipity

I like visiting gardens, but I like even more just coming across plants and gardens in unexpected ways when I travel, so that's what this post is about. Of course, I'm the one who's always going to take photos of ferns growing out of old buildings:

Santissimo Nome di Maria, Rome
or ironic failures of upkeep:

either Romulus or Remus is dead here
While we're on Rome, here's a nice juxtaposition of ancient and modern, wild and cultivated:

Newer (if not very new) building, with potted trees on the balcony, constructed around the ruins of Roman baths, with sprouting weeds from the stones. Cool!

I'm also always thrilled to come across vegetables, whether in markets or in gardens or growing wild. Being able to cook on vacations makes me feel much more human, and since we had a kitchen in our Rome hotel room, we bought vegetables and pasta at the Campo de Fiori market and made lunch. These zucchini, cut up with their flowers, look like the Costata Romanesco type, but could be something else similar.

Vegetables and fruit are not necessarily encountered only in reality but also in art. We didn't visit a lot of museums on this trip, but we did go through the Villa d'Este (see other post for Tivoli Gardens shots) and I snapped these portions of murals:

which do have some recognizable edibles in them.

On the Sorrento leg of our trip, we encountered lots of growing fruits and vegetables, including the citrus trees right outside our little cabin:

On the long trek up the stairs and pathways from Amalfi to Ravello, we walked right under a trellis of netted pumpkins (my son's photo; I was too exhausted to lift my phone camera):

and then much later, up at the Terrace of Infinity in the Villa Cimbrone gardens, I was thrilled (and dizzied) to look down from the heights:

and to actually spot the trellis and the more tan-orange of the pumpkins on it. You can't see it in this photo because the resolution isn't good enough, but it's there.

Also in Ravello, one of the hotels had an organic vegetable garden near the path:

closeup of cucuzzi gourds

On Capri, the very long chair lift journey up Monte Solaro took us right over people's gardens:

In this one I can spot amaranth and kale and beans and squash climbing the hillside. Kale (or an older generic brassica relative) grows wild in the Mediterranean region; this is a view from the top of Monte Solaro with kale in the foreground:

Another view from the top:

including the agaves in which people unfortunately inscribe graffiti:

For more perspective (if fewer plants), here's the chair lift going down:

Don't do this if you are afraid of heights!

I failed to take many photos in Tuscany, mostly through fatigue, and partly because the iconically beautiful landscape as we first saw it, afternoon sun glinting across the green hills and the orange roofs and the lines and angles of vineyards and olive plantations, looked so much like a painting that it didn't seem real. No cell phone camera photograph could do it justice, certainly, though maybe when we upload the photos from the real camera there will be something. But here's the landscape near Arezzo, where my younger son is studying this semester (you can see the yellow villa where he lives, off in the background):

And, speaking of serendipity, a final shot of random artichokes in the grass outside a gas station somewhere in Tuscany:

By accident? On purpose? Who knows. Just accept that they are there.

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