Italy is truly one of the most beautiful countries I've ever seen. And one of the best things about it is that the Italians appreciate its beauty. Actually, Italians appreciate beauty in general. Beautiful people, beautiful scenery, beautiful clothes, even beautiful food. You could consider it a culture that is too easily stimulated by aesthetics, but it's understandable since they are surrounded by it.
Growing up in the Midwest there was plenty of nature all around. Flat nature, but pretty nature nonetheless. When I was young my mom would always point out different flowers, trees, farmlands, etc. and explain what they were. It pretty much went in one ear and out the other. I had more important things to think about, like Scooby Doo, My Little Pony and Rainbow Brite. I mean really, who cared about Oak trees or tulips? Certainly not me. Well, Italian children must have listened to their moms, because they all seem to know every type of fauna growing along road, in their gardens, and around the coast. Paolo probably even more than most because of his biology degree. Taking a walk with Paolo is like going to a class--a very interactive class in which the teacher says, as he's taking a bite of a leaf he just picked from the tree, "And Maggie, you can eat this one, try it." Yes, we eat berries, fruits and leaves straight off the trees. Most are actually pretty good, but some I think he just has us try simply because we can, not necessarily because they are tasty...
As an adult, I'm totally digging learning about the trees, flowers and plants that surround me. And in Italy I find myself paying so much more attention to it. I wondered if it was just because I've become so accustomed to what nature looks like at home so I don't see it as much? Or if it's because the culture as a whole places so much emphasis on nature that I can't help but notice. Other Americans living here have said the same thing, so I guess it's not just me.
Anyway, to give you an idea of what I am talking about when I say wildflowers here are a few photos I've taken in the last couple of weeks. They really are everywhere.
A mix of poppies and yellow wildflowers
Some purple flowers along the coast (this is in Otranto, where we walk a lot)
A poppy field and a traditional stone wall near Paolo's town, Sternatia (this photo does not do justice to the reds of the poppies, it is such a deep, deep brilliant red, like really ripe strawberries)
Close-up of a purple flower with poppies and grasses blowing in the wind
Beautiful isn't it? Can you see why I'm more enthralled by them? They are everywhere you turn. I could not imagine a more beautiful primavera (spring) if I tried.