April 2020
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Photos & texts by Sabina Burrascano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Italy License.
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Men, sheeps and beauty

An harvestman keeps an eye on the town of Arcinazzo

Between the small towns of Arcinazzo and Affile, close to the town of Anagni (famous for the “outrage” (1303) involving the Pope Boniface VIII and the French king Philip the Fair) the sheeps grazing on the southern slope of Affilani Mts. maintained grasslands of astonishing beauty due to their incredibly diverse blooms and invertebrates.

What is also astonishing is the extreme drought in which plants and animals live and reproduce here, it is not a desert but hiking on this mounts in a summer day make you realize how much water you need being all day under the warmest sun and how dry these habitats are.

Ants harvesting on an inflorescence of  Erysimum  pseudorhaeticum

The diversity of vascular plants is noteworthy, sampling 50 square meters can lead to record up to more than 60 species, it is not a world record but it is something! Here plants interact with a much diverse people of invertebrates that add colours and shapes to an already complex picture.

The importance of equilibrium

These southern slopes’ grasslands are rather common along the Apennine chains, due to the traditional use men made of these mountains. Southern slopes were often used as pastures or, through the building of terraces, for agriculture; on northern slopes the woodlands were left as a source of timber and non-timber products.

Not very originally, the slope where I took these pictures is named Costa delle Pecore, that is Sheeps’ slope. To their grazing is due the wonderful grasslands we can enjoy!

Himantoglossum adriaticum incredible flowers

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