In the late XVII century, a trip to Sicily was a milestone for young affluent people of the time because it completed their education; going to Sicily meant breathing the scent of history, legends, and of the cultural traditions common to all Europeans. Indeed, thanks to its temperate climate, geographical position in the Mediterranean basin, between Europe and Africa, the uniqueness of the Mediterranean flora, ancient monuments, and its many places of memory, culture, and art, Sicily is a unique melting pot of beauties.
Thanks to the favorable conditions, since ancient times, and until more recent ones, each plot of land there included a vast repertoire of plants: orchards, grains, and medicinal plants. In fact, good health was obtained and nurtured with healthy eating, and diseases were treated only with herbs that were cultivated next to vegetables. With this tradition in mind, it is not surprising that the largest and oldest botanical garden in Europe is located in Palermo. While, the sunny interior of the island, with its endless crops of golden wheat interspersed with the delicate colors of the asphodels, is still “Italy’s granary”.
The concepts of ancient treasures and botanical wonders meet in the 1900 monumental trees, scattered throughout the island. They are great giants that witnessed the historical events that took place in front of them during hundreds, in some cases thousands, of years. Like the ‘Hundred Horse Chestnut’ on Mount Etna – the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world, believed to be 2,000 to 4,000 years old -, the 350 olive trees that are over 200 years of age – many in the Palermo and Messina, but also in and around the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento -, or the ‘young’, but imposing, ‘Ficus macrophylla of Piazza Marina’ in the heart of Palermo, that in only 146 years has reached a height of 30 meters and has a crown with a diameter of 50 meters.
Ilona Catani Scarlett