There are about 2000 centuries-old trees in Italy that protected by the state. It is not just their age that is impressive, their mighty dimensions can leave anyone breathless. Most of these patriarch trees (“alberi monumentali” in Italian ) are accessible by walking trails and make great destinations for nature lovers.
1. The Larch trees of the Val d’Ultimo, Alto Adige. In the Stelvio National park, as you head to the beautiful 16th century borgo of Santa Gertrude you will see a wooden sign “Larici millenary”. There you will find the three oldest trees in the Alps, which estimated age is 2300 years. The tallest of them is 36 m high with the trunk of almost 7 m in circumference.
2. The Chestnut of 100 Horses (Castagno dei 100 Cavalli), Sicily, is believed to have been growing here for 3000 years, which makes it the oldest chestnut tree in the world. According to a local legend Queen Giovanna I di Napoli was passing by with her 100 cavaliers in the 14th century when a heavy thunderstorm started. The Queen and her escort hid under the mighty chestnut tree, and since then it is called Castagno dei 100 Cavalli.
3. The Turkey oak of Serreio (Cerro di Serreio), Liguria. It is 15 metres high, not a record for a veteran tree, yet its gnarled branches and weathered crooked trunk has seen a lot in 700 years and despite everything it keeps growing. Ask for directions in the stunning village of Varese Ligure.
4. The Holm Oak of Saint Francis (Leccio di San Francesco) grows on the Amiata mountain, in Tuscany, near the ancient village of Piancastagnaio. Its estimated age is 600 years. According to the legend, which recently has been confirmed by historic research, Saint Francis stopped for a prayer nearby. Today pilgrims come here to pray and leave wooden crosses under the old tree. The path to the oak is well signposted.
5. The Crusaders’ Olive Tree (Olivo dei Crociati), Campania, is a rival of the oldest olive tree in Europe that grows in Lazio. It is believed to have grown from a seed that was brought by crusaders from the Gethsemane garden in Jerusalem, so its possible age is around 1600 years. Ask for directions in the village of Sant’Antonio, province of Salerno.