The beauty of the Mediterranean maquis

The beauty of the

Mediterranean maquis

Initially, I found it a bit difficult to distinguish between Italian shrubland and Italian wasteland, as a lot of people tend to dump rubbish like broken refrigerators, old cupboards with tired hinges and stuffing spilling armchairs in the periphery of open land. Yet, I could not help noticing the reverence with which the locals talked about the macchia mediterranea. Macchia seemed like a magic word that could push back civilization, protect the seaside from concrete holiday hotels and building developments and arise revitalized from the ashes of unavoidable bush fires like the mythological phoenix.

– The macchia mediterranea can be found along the coasts throughout the Mediterranea Basin, but in many places this natural habitat is threathened by agriculture and land exploitation, and in some places it has been almost extinguished. That’s why the local government in Puglia has protected the macchia of this region so that it can only be used for recreational purposes.The macchia contains lots of rare plants, flowers and wild life that should be preserved, a lawyer acquaintance explained.

The explanation caused me to observe the stony and sandy shrublands that resemble northern European moors more closely, and gradually their wild natural beauty grew on me.

Each spring the desolate, evergrey, treeless desert sprouts an orgy of flowers and fragrances. There are purple pillows of wild thyme, delicate rosemary with tiny blue violet flowers, white myrtle, and yellow broom dotted with red poppies, rosy sand verbena and gorgeous pink sunflowers, I can’t identify, although they spread like weeds

The beauty of the Mediterranean maquis

One of many colourful wild flowers growing in the Mediterranean maquis

So if you happen to go near the Italian coast over the next couple of months, watch out for the macchia mediterranea. There is much to be appreciated. And if you happen to know the name of the pink sun flowers (see photo above) that grow in the sand dunes in a finger-nailed and a cup-sized version, please, let me know;-)

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