The Umbra Forest in Gargano, an orchestra of trees

Foresta Umbra, in provincia di Foggia, Parco nazionale del Gargano - Umbria Forest, Gargano National Park

Once again, we follow the lead of a great fan of Apulia – art critic and essayist Cesare Brandi – as we venture into the Umbra Forest, in the province of Foggia. Brandi’s book “Terre d’Italia” (Bompiani, Milan 2006) immediately explains the name of this 400-hectare natural reserve, 800 meters from Gargano National Park:

“The name ‘Umbria Forest’ will always be misleading, because it actually almost certainly has nothing to do with the region Umbria, or even with ‘ombra’ (‘shade’ in Italian – editor’s note) […]. It all comes from ‘imber’, meaning ‘rain’.”

“After the small town of Vico, you will get a first glimpse of the forest. It’s like when an orchestra tunes its instruments, making an almost resentful hum.”

“At first it’s the young, pole-thin chestnuts and hazelnut trees. The air becomes denser and lighter at the same time: lighter because you are breathing in the green, the humidity, the shade; and lighter because, who knows how, it seems not to reach the bottom of the lungs, and almost escapes from nostrils like the smoke of a cigarette.”

“These are the first signs, then comes the real show. Quiet, immediately immense and tall. The beech trees have trunks as smooth and straight as smokestacks, rising from the bottom of the valley and extending large, dilated branches, with leaves spread out as if they were floating. In the luminous shade, the leaves are as transparent as membranes, and almost reflect the green, like filters of light.”

Then come the maple trees with palms open like fingers, the scalloped, capricious edges of the Turkey oaks, the hazelnut trees with their soft leaves, and a whole underwood of humid ferns that look like they’re inside an aquarium.”

Photos via: ©Ania Totaro, ©Matteo Falcone, ©Mattia Dori

December 13, 2016

The Umbra Forest in Gargano, an orchestra of trees

Monte Sant'Angelo (Foggia)
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