I spent the lockdown summer of 2020 working on a 55 acre farm as a farm hand. During that time, I fell in love with being surrounded by beautiful, vibrant and fruitful produce plants 24/7. When I thought about moving to Rome, I was ready to put aside my love for natural foliage and adjust to seeing large, old buildings and cobblestone streets. To my great surprise, there are fruit trees and native foliage scattered everywhere around this city!! Mixed in with the ancient architecture and small streets are these beautiful fruitful trees that are either set right into the sidewalks or potted on people’s balconies and small plots of land.
The very first time that I noticed this was when I was on the American University of Rome campus sitting looking into the designated smoking area and I spotted a little red fruit hanging off of the smallest tree. I ventured in to get a closer look and to my amazement, it was a baby pomegranate growing! I quickly showed everyone that was near me, all of which gave me a polite “Wow Morgan… how cool”. I will be watching these fruits over the next few weeks waiting for them to ripen, as pomegranates are a late fall/early winter fruit. I now have kept an eye out everywhere that I go and some of the trees and plants that I have found are as follows.
This is a very cool plant that I have never had the chance to see growing naturally where I am from in New York. This is a cacti that produces the fruit that I know as a prickly pear. After a quick Google search, I now know that the Italian word for this fruit is fichi d’India. This translates to India Pears, due to the fact that Christopher Columbus was the one that introduced them to Europe and since he thought that he had landed in India when he reached the Americas, the name followed this fruit all the way here. I have not yet had the fortune to eat one of these in Italy, but due to the bright coloration of the fruit on this plant, I know that they are soon to be in peak season and I will be able to find many local suppliers.
This is another fruit that I have never had the opportunity to taste, but am ecstatic to find out that it grows here. This is a persimmon (also known as a sharon fruit) that I found recently while traveling a little ways outside of Rome. The tree at first had me fooled for an apple tree, but with a closer look I realized that the fruit ripened to this bright orange and not any classic apple colors and it also had the flat leafs on top instead of a stem. The one that I have a picture of here looks beautiful but what you cannot see is the gaping hole on the other side made by a bird or some other animal seeking the sweet and watery flesh as a snack. The Italian word for persimmon fruit is cachi and I am going to keep an eye out for these to come to the market near me. I will definitely try and post an update when I get the chance to try it.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “That looks like such a nice orange on an orange tree!” Yeah, I thought that too… I walked right up to it, picked one and continued to easily peel the fruit with a lot of excitement for a fresh orange. I pulled it apart and popped a piece into my mouth. To begin with, I crunched right down on a mouthful of seeds and then, it hit me.
This delectable looking orange IS A LEMON! Man did it have me pranked. After I spit out no less than 6 seeds, I swallowed the sour slice of fruit and proceeded to laugh over the whole situation with my friend. I was amazed! I should have known from Amalfi that the lemons here look different, but I had no idea that they could look just like oranges! I threw the rest of the fruit into the bush that was near me and accepted the fact that I was not meant to have a fresh snack in that moment.
I have loved seeing all of the different flora and fauna that Italy has to offer and I look forward to seeing how everything changes as we work our way further into the fall season!
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