8/01/2013

Come si è formato il manto verde dell'isola di Capri? The green mantle of Capri

Everybody is standing up to get their first glimpse as Capri is fast approaching: on the omorning boat from Amalfi
Arriving by boat in Capri, coming from the direction of Amalfi and Positano, this is how the silhouette of Capri appears out of the blue: Dark green spots covering greyish cliffs and vertical rocks.
And if you are interested in plants, by then, a lot of questions come up when you watch this sight. For example, what was the vegetation of Capri 10,000 years ago like? Has the island ever been connected to the terraferma. And is the vegetation really endemic, that is different from its nearby lands (Ischia, Costiera, Sorrento Peninsula) as is so often the case with islands in the Mediterranean sea. 
As the boat turns towards Capri, from the Punta della Campanella area, you get a 180 degrees view of the island
15,000 years ago, Capri was actually connected to the terra firma due to glacial perionds when the level of the sea sank by 120 meters, thus the shoreline was no longer present and you would have been able to reach Capri on foot from Punta Campanella !! But before, parts of Capri were immerged and then again raised due to tectonical features. 
Close-up of the Faragioni, with just a few sun-hardy herbs and euphorbia plants living on its steep and almost vertical surface. 
When you arrive from the Positano direction, you can take in a broader view of the island than when you arrive from Sorrento. The first thing you see when coming from Positano is the Faraglioni rocks to the left, so you see part of the southern shores, as well as the eastern part with Villa Tiberius and Villa Lysis high above. 
High above, on the north-eastern tip of the island, Villa Jovis is located - this is the Villa built for Emperor Tiberius who lived on Capri from 23 to 37 AD. Below is a stretch of maritime pines. The northern shore is covered with more evergreen Mediterranean macchia than is the southern shore. On southern slopes you would mostly find garigue plants.
By the time the boat approaches Capri, you can see the northeastern tip very clearly as the boat passes here in proximity. You then circle the whole northern part of the island until you can even see the stretto di Capri - a saddle, the so-called graben which also happens to separate in a geological manner the territories of Capri and Anacapri (dolomite is present in the Marina Piccola zone, while chalky cliffs are present elsewhere). 
Mount Solaro is veiled behind mist and clouds
And here you can take in how the climate between the two communities located on Capri must be different - a fresh air is due to the mists and fogs present in Anancapri. This air was so beloved by Edwin Cerio and his wife, so they even called Anacapri in a loving manner their "estero", where they went "on vacation", as they both were not so much into travelling at that time. You can read their accounts by the way in the book written by Claretta Cerio, La mia Capri.
La depressione centrale - the "saddle" between the Capri and Anacapri territories, Monte Solaro is shrouded in clouds which account for a humid and cooler climate at large
Due to the on-off periods of glaciation, a variety of plant species evolved. And in addition, there must be a natural difference in the plants covering the island due to the misty and foggy areas which hold water and account for the lush foliage of plants. In the pictures above and below, you can see the evergreen macchia (macchia primitiva, the original Mediterranean woods, consisting mainly of evergreen holm oaks (lecci), myrtles (mirti) , mastic trees (lentischi), and strawberry trees (corbezzoli) as there are only a few spots left of the original plant cover on the island: Along the road up to Anacapri, and near Villa Lysis on the northeastern-tip of the island. 
The garrigue plants living on the southern, sun-exposed parts of Capri are herbs like rosemary, thyme and lavender, but also euphorbia, cist roses and genista. They have long thin evergreen leaves that may live up to 2 years. Also, many bulb plants live there, like orchids, that due to the dry season when just about 10% of the annual rainfall takes place, simply "revert to the soil".
View up towards Capri town when approaching the harbor. You can see how the northern slopes of the island are co ered with trees (orchards, olives, citrus fruit, pines).
According to the book "Guida Naturalistica all'Isola di Capri" by Gennaro Aprea, 38% of the plant species present in Capri are endemic. Some plants have been "imported" to Capri, like bouganvillea and even palm trees, with the exception of the endemic palm tree variant. These "guest plants" grow profusely in the gardens, but have also conquered territory beyond the gardens.
View towards Anacapri - you can see the shade that Monte Solar throws upon the island and how the air must be so clear and misty, hosting their special variety plants (will describe that in another post).
Afternoon sun upon Capri

1 commento:

  1. My family and I travelled to Italy in April/May 2013 and could not believe the beauty that was to
    unfold in front of our eyes. We visited the Island of Capri and Axel Munthe's villa...it is truly heaven on earth. How could one island hold so much beauty? I have posted photo's of San Michele on my blog and most days view the beautiful photo's of our travels through Italy. What a lovely country you have, just dripping in history and fabulous beauty. Wish I was there again.
    Regards, Anita.

    RispondiElimina