If your ideal type of holiday includes a lot of sightseeing and admiration of both human ingenuity and breathtaking nature, Italy is definitely the go-to place. The awareness about nature being the greatest artist ever starts to sink in once again when you realise what kind of wealth Italy has to offer.
Trees, in all their grandeur, are living beings which have witnessed many events in their sometimes several thousand year long lives. Heritage keepers are proud of a register created for monumental trees, all of which are famous for their size, age or simply for bearing witness to important historical events. Some have also been featured by poets and famous writers. These keepers of history can be seen in many regions of Italy and we will focus on five famous places where you can admire them.
Our journey begins in Luras on Sardinia, approximately 25 miles from Olbia, where we get to observe the king of olive trees, S’Ozzastru, estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000 years old, with a circumference of about 12 metres and a height of nearly 14 metres. “Revered” by the locals, S’Ozzastru was declared a natural monument in 1991 and has made it in the list of the twenty oldest Italian trees, as a representative of Sardinia.
From Sardinia to Sicily, this island-hopping tour is now taking us to Etna Park, within the territory of the town of Sant’Alfio (CT), home of the so-called “Chestnut of Hundred Horses”. Known botanically as “Castanea sativa Miller”, the tree is aged between 3000 and 4000 years. It’s imposing trunk is around 22 meters wide,while its height is almost equal.
It’s curious name comes from a local legend, according to which, in the fourteenth century, the Queen Joanna I of Anjou, along with a hundred horsemen, found shelter beneath its branches from a sudden and violent storm.
From Siciliy we head on to Calabria, more precisely to the province of Catanzaro, located in the municipality of Curinga. Here we will get to view a giant plane tree, which boasts an 18 metre circumference, and whose age is difficult to estimate, but it is likely to be a thousand years old. The giant plane tree looks particularly attractive in winter, when its bare branches intertwine and look particularly spectral against the silver sky. It was likely to be planted by the monks of the nearby hermitage of Sant’Elia, and it is located within a dense pine forest.
We head up north to Central Italy to see a tree said to be named after one of the most beloved saints in the world, the Beech of St. Francis. The tree is located in Rivodutri, a small hill town in the province of Rieti. The tree is two metres wide and stands at 9 metres tall. The legend linked to this 250-year old tree dates back to the life of the Poverello of Assisi. The shape of its twisted branches is believed to have been caused by the tree itself bending to provide shelter to the saint during a violent storm. The shape is quite peculiar for a tree which normally grows long and slender branches.
We end our pilgrimage to the green monuments in an urban park: In Turin we find Leopardi Park; which is small and not particularly famous, but still home to a number of quite large trees. These include sycamores, elms, horse chestnuts and finally two beautiful redwoods. The trees are of colossal dimensions, some standing at an impressive 35 metres tall, and with a trunk circumference of up to five metres. The monterous trees date back from the early 1900s but nobody knows the avid gardener was who planted them was.
Plan a holiday with Auto Europe and discover these spectacular green wonders. Enjoy the enchanting Italian countryside and let us know how you’ve liked it!