Monday, June 30, 2014

Vatican Gardens - Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

We were lucky enough to visit the Vatican City gardens today, which Dr. Lombardini said most people aren’t able to do. Throughout all of the gardens we have visited while on this study abroad program, the Vatican gardens were my favorite. Being the Catholic capitol of the world meant that many people from all over the world had donated various flowers and trees to the gardens. Since they were from all over, they had to try to maintain their original climate, so they had several “regional” sections of the garden. The most prominent of these was the desert climate region where there was an overabundance of species of cacti. My favorite out of all the cacti was the artichoke flower which literally had an artichoke that was blooming with a purple-bristle-like flower on top. Also within that region were reed-like plants that Dr. Lombardini informed us was the papyrus plant that the Egyptians used to first make paper during the fourth millennium BCE. They had a rose garden filled with all of the colors of roses – reds, yellows, and pinks. I’ve never seen such a perfectly blooming bunch of roses that were obviously full of life and well-taken care of. My favorite trees I saw while we were there were the umbrella pine trees. I really enjoy the look of those trees for some reason and I definitely hope to have one in my front yard later in life.  Anyway, they also had a grove of olive trees that were donated that Dr. Lombardini estimated to be around 500 years old, which is definitely old for most things, but for olive trees they were somewhat young compared to other ones around the world. Dr. Lombardini also pointed out an interesting relationship within a palm tree. Resting on top of a palm tree was a live fig plant that was thriving. Some bird must have had some droppings there with a fig seed inside and the top of the palm was a suitable climate for it to begin to grow, but Dr. Lombardini told us it may live to grow some fruit but it won’t be able to live there indefinitely. The Vatican gardens also had an English garden section and several fountains throughout the grounds, one of which was directly in front of the house of the Pope. Walking through these gardens, I could definitely see why so many Popes loved to stroll through these vast, tranquil gardens daily to ponder the teachings of Jesus Christ – I know I would do the same if I was in their position. Also, there are 40 gardeners that tend all of the various sections of the gardens, which sounds like an excessive amount but it really isn’t. When you look at the size of Vatican City, over two-thirds of the land is dedicated to these gardens, so overall these gardens are absolutely massive. Now that our trip is nearing its end, the Vatican gardens are the one place I would love to go back to that was a natural environment instead of a building. I wish I could go for an entire day and just stroll ever so slowly throughout the landscape and take everything in and be at complete peace.
Stay classy Castiglion,
Quinten Plumer

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