What I did on my Summer Vacation.

For two weeks this past June (1998), I was lucky enough to spend some time in the beautiful region of Italy known as the Abruzzo. Home of vast mountains, vast farmlands and vast amounts of sheep, the Abruzzo was filled with enough plant species to put my region of New England to shame. :-(  Following is a brief photographic tour of the countryside through my eyes...
There are thousands and thousands of poppies throughout the farming regions of the Abruzzo.  They are prominent in wheat fields and are also common along roadsides.  For the botanists out there, these plants are known by the scientific name Papaver rhoeas (common name Rough Poppy), as the stem and leaves are covered with stiff hairs.
This is a very narrow road that we often drove down on our way to the piazza in Paganica, a small town outside of L'Aquila, which is the capital of the Abruzzo region.  Most of the tiny cars owned in Italy come equipped with mirrors that fold in, which comes in handy if you drive too close to them!
One of the many, many herds of sheep that forced us to stop our car and wait as they wandered down the road.  If you look very closely in the top right corner, you can see one of the sheep dogs controlling the herd. 
The name of this castle is Rocca Calascio.  It is located on a high hill (you can see the mountains and valleys in the background on the right).  Portions of the movie Ladyhawke were filmed here.  I saw several incredibly cool plants as we hiked up to and down from the castle, including Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore), at least two different species of the parasitic Orobanche (Broomrapes), and the unforgettable Adriatic Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum adriaticum).
And here it is: the one and only photo of me on the World Wide Web!  Taken at Rocca Calascio by my boyfriend, in an attempt to capture me at what I like to do best, "Botanizing".  I'm not sure what species I was looking at here, but I know it was in the genus Cerastium.  
This photo was also taken at Rocca Calascio.  The pinkish flower stalks growing off of this rock are Saxifraga porophylla Bertol., a species endemic to the Abruzzo region.
The absolutely gorgeous photo below was taken on a very cloudy day, so I suspect that the developer made things a little too bright (I don't remember it being this green!).  This waterfall can be found outside the entrance to the Grotte di Stiffe, a series of underground caves with a river running through them.  The tour of the caves was good, but would have been better if I understood Italian. :-) 


Here is a picture I took during one of our many drives along the winding roads that took us through the mountains.  Everyplace I stopped had a profusion of wildflowers, many of which I was never able to identify.  The white flowers here are definitely a species of Silene, but I'm not sure which one.  The pink flowers are probably Onobrichis viciifolia ("Lupinella"), a legume.

Fountain at L'Aquila Close-up of Fountain at L'Aquila Pine stand in L'Aquila Collisseum Collisseum Cow and Calf The Forum Piazza di L'Aquila Cows blocking road Great Mountain View Unsuccessful Reforesting Project Fountain at St. Peter's Church Stripmining in the Mountains
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