Monday, June 29, 2015


Bougainvilleas in Sorrento
On June 13th, we went to Sorrento for a weekend trip. As soon as we left the train station, I saw a huge bush of purple flowers climbing over a wall. I took a picture, and I didn’t think much about it after. A couple of weeks later, we went to Cinque Terre. The day after we arrived, June 26th, we hiked from Levanto to Monterosso and later walked through the other four towns (Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore). In each town, I saw the same purple flowers I first saw in Sorrento.

These flowers are called Bougainvillea. They are native to South America and can be evergreen or deciduous depending on if there is a dry season. Bougainvilleas grow well in warm climates because of their drought tolerance. They also have high salt tolerance which is why they’re commonly used for color in coastal regions. This explains why they were all over Sorrento and Cinque Terre both of which are coastal regions.

The purple Bougainvilleas are probably my favorite flowers I’ve seen in Italy. Their vibrant color really catches the eye, especially when they grow along white/gray walls. I also love how the bracts surround the flower. It lives up to its nickname “paper flower”. Despite their obvious beauty, Bougainvillea is slightly toxic. The sap of Bougainvilleas can cause skin rashes similar to that of toxicodendron species (i.e. poison ivy). Nevertheless, Bougainvilleas are still gorgeous.


Bougainvilleas in Corniglia, Cinque Terre
Bougainvilleas at a train station in Cinque Terre

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