Friday, June 30, 2017

Pope's Garden

Week 4 is here and the class is headed to Rome. We met Dr. Lombardini on the train as he will be taking over for the remainder of the trip. So far, this trip has been filled with new scenery and new adventures so I was very eager to know how Rome will be. Before we got there, we stayed in a small town about thirty minutes outside of Rome called Castel Gandolfo. The town its self was at the top of a hill that overlooks a small volcanic lake called Lake Albano. Pictures do not do justice for how pretty this view was. I would like to thank the teachers for getting us this reservation because this place was beautiful! Castel Gandolfo has been the Popes summer residence for generations. Every time a Pope would visit thousands of people would follow bringing business for those few months. But since Pope Francis has taken over as the new bishop of Rome, he has made his palace and the papal gardens open to the public and does not visit this area anymore. It is sad to think he will not come back to visit but fortunately for us we were able to visit these gardens. One of trees I liked the most at this garden is the stone pine. The scientific name is Pinus pinea and comes from the Pinaceae family, reach up to 25 m in height and is commercially used for its pine nuts the cones produce. This tree grows well in soils with pH levels lower than 7 and is tolerant to heat which would work in states like Texas. Growing up as a kid I always played with the pine cones when they fall from the tree and never noticed there were pine nuts in them. These pine nuts are edible can be eaten raw and used in a lot of recipes like fennel salads, cookies and my favorite dish, pesto pasta. It’s funny how the things we see every day and never know the many uses its capable of.

-Michael Vandever

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