Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ravello: Seigli del Dei

Seeing familiar plants in their native habitats is always a thrill. Along the Seigli del Dei (the Path of the Gods), consisting of shepherd’s paths turned hiking trail, we saw not only spectacular views of the Amalfi Coast towards Capri and the sheer limestone cliffs of the coastal mountains, but also the natural chapparal vegetation, protected from excessive disturbance because of steepness.

A early Crocus had just opened.

The trail runs between Bomerano and Positano, in a traditional route, hugging the cliffs and presenting quite a challenge to anyone nervous around heights. The dropoff was distinctly dramatic in spots – a long way down to the sea; fortunately, the trail was fairly wide.

We saw rosemary, santolina, Artemisia, mints, and a small thyme, along with what looked like broom (Cytisus) interspersed with steep rocky slopes. Pockets of oak and alder woodland, with umbrella pine, ash, and a smattering of other things (including a blueberry relative (in the Ericaceae) that we remembered from the Garden as Strawberry Bush, with fleshy red fruits and a Rhus look-a-like, something similar to Scabiosa, and lots of sweet alyssum.

Yesterday, a patch of Arisaema (Jack in the Pulpit) on one of the ledges above the cliff-side path where we were walking caught my eye. It was in full flower.

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