As warmer months arrive and the snows melt, Italy witnesses a progressive "chromatic" transformation as the many fruit trees burst into flower in specific and widespread areas, equally joined by the imagination of the people designed and implemented our many parks and gardens. An explosion of colour that in the social media era has become immensely popular, thanks to the many posts shared by travellers attracted by lentils flowering in Umbria, sunflowers in Tuscany or lavender in Piedmont. So here is a "travel diary" for a tour among flowers and perfumes that can be discovered in Italy from January to the end of summer.
Agrigento: the Valley of Temples - UNESCO World Heritage Site - is among the first in Italy to witness magnificent flowering: as early as the end of January, given Sicily's mild climate, almond trees foreshadow spring, their branches covered by small white flowers with shades of pink. The overall view of flowering almond trees and traces of antiquity embodied by the temples is a unique scenario and absolutely worth seeing.
In early March, when the snow has completely melted, Abruzzo sees the crocus bring new and intense flowering to Italy. The Campo Imperatore high plateau, in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park (1800-2100 metres in altitude) is covered with tiny, hardy purple-hued flowers whose pistils are covered with precious saffron that will then be collected with great care. Hint: these delicate blooms create a spectacle that lasts for only a few days: plan your visit in good time and you will not be disappointed.
The Garden of Ninfa is a typical example of an English garden where blooms follow one another throughout spring, from wisteria to bulbous plants, fruit trees and hedgerows: numerous species were brought here in the early XX century by the creator of the garden, Gelasio Caetani, in the area of the lost Mediaeval hamlet of Ninfa, of which only several ruins remain today, some of which were restored when the garden was created. Crossed by the River Ninfa that rises not far away before flowing for 30 km towards the Pontine plain, forming the small lake of the same name, in this garden every flowered corner seems to leap out of the imagination of a Renaissance painter.
Valeggio sul Mincio, just a few kilometres from Lake Garda, is home to one of the gardens in Europe winning the most awards: the Sigurtà Garden Park from mid-March to the end of April hosts a truly magnificent and colourful blooming of tulips. Over the years it has been awarded the title of "Italy's most beautiful park" and conquered second place among the most beautiful gardens in Europe.
A truly enchanting place just outside Florence, close to Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Garden in spring is home to magnificent blooms. The Medici were the first to develop this area, laying the foundations of what would become the “Italian garden” - and later on a source of inspiration for many European courts. This enormous green area is laid out uniformly and populated by ancient and Renaissance statues, adorned with grottos - such as the famous one created by Bernardo Buontalenti - and sumptuous fountains, such as Neptune and the Ocean. Wild orchids, ancient rose varieties, water lilies and the centuries-old Medici collection of citrus fruit on show in the open air: these are just some of the features in the Boboli Gardens, which from March through to the end of summer are filled with the refined shapes of brightly coloured flowers.
The cherry trees around Vignola, near Modena, heavy with precious red fruit bending their branches must obviously first break out into blossom. And indeed, from the end of April, rows of trees growing in the cultivated areas of the area are blazoned with white-pink flowers. The area is home at this time of year to numerous festivals and events, prior to the harvest of large, delicious local cherries protected by the PGI brand taken first to market and then served at table. You can also wander among the trees by bicycle along the Panaro Nature Trail, in the shade of poplars and willows.
Lentils have different shades and long flowering periods in the colourful valleys around Castelluccio di Norcia, in Umbria. From the end of May, fields planted with lentils - a PGI treasure of the area - are spectacular... This delicious legume finds a habitat of excellence and every year repays the hard work of people who continue to grow this crop. Some curious facts: this magical flowering also includes many poppies, gentianelle, daffodils, wild mustard, violets, cornflowers, clover and other spontaneous local plants. Perfect viewpoints can be found in the Pian Grande and Pian Perduto areas, near Norcia.
Loved by Van Gogh, sunflowers in bloom create unique scenarios embodying hots summer with crickets and cicadas crooning in the background. Sunflowers are the absolute protagonists of Tuscany in the summer, turning entire valleys yellow and green. Year by year, however, fields follow crop rotation methods for the good of the soil, so it is not certain that the appointment with these enormous flowers will always be repeated in the same place. Yet there are truly numerous vocational areas for cultivating this plant in Tuscany, so it will be easy to come across these yellow blooms, extending from Maremma to San Gimignano, from Val d'Orcia to Grosseto.
In the height of summer, Piedmont sees a bloom of solid colour creating an amazing visual impact: it is lavender time, transforming the uplands of Sale San Giovanni into a canvas of lilac shades. And it is thanks to lavender growing that this tiny village (about 180 inhabitants) has managed to reinvent itself and find a new dimension. And the harvest from thousands of aligned plants resembling a sea with purple reflections when stirred by breezes will then be delivered to the finest herbalist laboratories throughout Italy.