Nature and walks in southern Tuscany

Monday 2 – Sunday 8 May 2022

Monday 2 May

After meeting at Fiumicino airport, we travelled to Monti della Tolfa for a short walk and plant hunting, and saw Pyrus spinosa, beautiful Cercis siliquastrum, a field of asphodels, Cynara cardunculus (wild artichoke), amazing clay grasslands and heard the sound of the nightingale.

Our excellent guide, Prof Goffredo Filibeck of Tuscia University

Cercis siliquastrum stands out in the vista

Echium vulgare

Cynara cardunculus

Cerinthe major

Cercis siliquastrum

Fields of asphodels

Mixed clay grasslands

Tuesday 3 May

The second day in Maremma started on the south-west slopes of Monte Argentario, was followed by a substantial lunch at a brilliant family-run restaurant and an afternoon on Gianella beach, where we looked at psammophytic flora, and had a walk through woodland of Quercus suber and Pinus pinea.

Cistus salvifolius

Cytinus ruber, parasitic on cistus

Walking to the ruins on the top of Capo d’Omo promontory

Cistus creticus

Orchis italica

Ophrys sphegodes

Anthemis maritima and Juniperus macrocarpa on Giannella beach

Pinus pinea

Pancratium maritimum

Quercus suber

Wednesday 4 May

It was a glorious day on Giglio Island, arriving at the picturesque Giglio Porto by ferry, then hiking along the main granite ridge with wonderful views, cistus shrubland, colourful annuals and spectacular orchids. The weather was kind, and the shared picnic lunch was much appreciated and enjoyed by all.

Giglio Porto was just like a postcard

Smyrnium perfoliatum

Lavandula stoechas

It was a day of incredible views

Muscari comosum / Leopoldia comosa

Limodorum abortivum

A designer couldn’t have improved on nature

Lupinus sp.

Anacamptis papilionacea pale form

Back to Giglio Castello

Thursday 6 May

There was some rain today in Maremma, so the long walk planned was changed to a shorter walk in the Maremma National Park in Alberese, followed by a wander through an interesting species-rich grassland after lunch.

The umbrella pines (Pinus pinea) were certainly doing their job today

Evax pygmaea

Paliurus-spina-christi with its beautiful seed pods

Beautiful colour splashes

Three stages of Trifolium stellatum

Ophrys lutea

Serapias parviflora

Urospermum dalechampii

Geranium sanguineum

Friday 6 May

Today we left Porto Santo Stefano, travelling inland for the latter part of our trip. On the way we visited Pitigliano and its tuff rock tracks and catacombs, lunched at an agriturismo (a farm which also receives guests) and walked by Etruscan ruins near the half-abandoned village of Sovana.

The extraordinary sight of Pitigliano

The Vie Cave are gigantic ancient corridors around Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano, carved into the tuff by the Etruscans

Cyclamen repandum

Etruscan necropolis of San Giuseppe, Sorano

Entrance to Sovana village

Sovana village

Hildebrand’s tomb, the most famous Etruscan tomb in the Sovana necropolis

Statue carved from tuff at Agriturismo Aia del Tufo

Saturday 7 May

The last day of the tour was spent walking in the Monte Penna nature reserve and then some free time to explore the village of Sovana.

Mossy woodland in Monte Penna nature reserve

Anemone apennina

Helleborus foetidus

Ornithogalum sp.

Thymus longicaulis

Delicious food at Agriturismo Il Cornacchino today

 STOP it said, so we did, and were very glad to find a huge range of interesting plants on one grass verge

Orchis morio

Ophrys bertolonii

Orchis purpurea

It was an excellent and well organised tour with a fantastic mix of wild scenery, walking, eating, good company, great guidance and of course, the stars of the show, the plants!

Text and images by Lesley Jones