5.30am rings call my name on my holiday morning. Crawling out of bed in a disorientated fashion as usual. Flicking the kettle on as I had put water in it the night before, then promptly poured my cereal into my coffee cup. Not a morning person.
I had a brief look at google maps and packed my bag with the essentials, water, sun cream, bike chain, phone, wallet, keys, tub of pringles; the hiking fundamentals. I taught myself how to ride a bike last year at the ripe age of 20 (yes, I know). I had googled like the millennial I am ‘ how long does it take to cycle 10km?’ 45 minutes depending on traffic. The appropriate calculations were made and my journey to a nature park north of Pistoia, Italy would take 1 hour 20 minutes.
Preparation is a important aspect of life. Having not fully accounted for the fact I am not an avid biker, the Italian heat which was 34 degrees that day, Italian roads and Pistoia being renowned for being a very, very mountainous region. It is near the Apennines in Toscana after all. I found myself 2 hours and 10 minutes in with 1.2km to my destination which was to steep to cycle, absolutely burst. My total Journey was 36km excluding the hiking.
Area natural Protetta del Monteferrato looks upon the small town of Fornacelle and the city of Prato. The nature area was half covered by olive trees and the other by forest trails. At only around 450metres in elevation there was a variety of plants
Quercus sp. and Pinus pinea growing as the overstory however, I noticed as the elevation increased Pinus pinea became much less frequent and a few large specimens remained only as dead wood. Erica arborea began to dominate in full sun around 300m while Ruscus aculeatus was growing in pure shade. Ferns like Asplenium trichomanes subsp quadrivalens grow around 150m at the edge of the woods under the deep shade of the trees, poking out from rocky exposed road side.
I noticed that some Quercus had some strange abnormalities on them. I believe this is Quercus pubescens with a Andricus caputmedusae. This is a gall formed by a wasp it seems very common in the area as I noticed many on the native oaks.