Thursday, November 19, 2009

100 HORSE CHESTNUT TREE - SAN ALFIO




Last weekend, we went to see the 100 Horse Chestnut tree near San Alfio. It is believed to be the largest chestnut in all of Europe. The name comes from the traditional story that when Princess Giovanna of Aragon that during a sudden rainstorm the young Joanna (Giovanna) of Aragon, Queen of Naples, travelling with a mounted suite of around a hundred retainers and knights, sought shelter under the huge tree.

Joanna of Aragon was the second wife of King Ferdinand I ("Ferrante") of Naples and Sicily (1423-1494), who she wed in 1476. The royal dynasty of Aragon had ruled Sicily since the War of the Vespers in 1282, and by now the "Italian" branch also ruled (from Naples) the southern third of the Italian peninsula. King Ferrante's reign was characterised by, among other things, high taxes.





...the path up to the chestnut tree....



....Two different views of the 100 horse chestnut tree. It's huge! A fence has been put around the trees since people have cut off branches and have burned portions of it.....






... Some really pretty flowers under the tree -- they look more like spring flowers to me, strange to think that it is the middle of November ....



After leaving here, we went home to roast and eat some chestnuts we picked the weekend before on Etna.

3 comments:

Christa2712 said...

Ciao,

These are Colchicum autumnale L. and it's the season for blossom. For our part of the world it's ok. But they are VERY VERY TOXIC, if you have a dog, they can kill him.

Greetings from Corsica - Christa

Jeffrey said...

I am doing a bit of research on Joanna of Aragon. I appreciate your links and the photos of your journey. That must have been a truly fascinating trip. Did you happen to speak to any of the locals about the tree, or it's history? If anyone said anything about why Joanna and her retinue were there? Anything you know may help. Thank you again for sharing your trip, and the photos of the tree, and path leading there!

Micaela said...

Amazing photos! The flowers are most likely Saffron Crocus- where the spice Saffron is from. In the centre are 3 red stigmas which are picked and dried and used in a variety of dishes. Given the location it's quite possible they were planted there (or the corms dropped) many years ago and have naturalised forming a carpet of flowers- similar to the way daffodils do. (Exciting to think!) They flower early Autumn/Fall.

Mic :-)