Spring calls back to life and nature answers with new colours, smells and tastes. We have accepted its invitation, left the car behind and decided to follow our senses. We want to walk slowly, today. The hundreds-of-year-old beech trees of the Alburni Mountains are the frame of this trip that takes place in the heart of Parco Nazionale del Cilento e Vallo di Diano: a land where art, nature and traditional tastes mingle together.
The name “Alburni” derives from the Latin word albus (“white”). It refers to the white rocks or to the fields of snow that decorate the place during winter. In May, however, the nature is green, vivid, luxuriant and wild. Its young leaves climb along the wooden fences of the most evocative paths, taking us towards breath-taking landscapes of valleys, mountains and of the sea.
Spotting horses or cattle is not unusual. But we are not looking for them. The Mountains give birth to renowned products that in the oasis find the most suitable conditions to grow spontaneously: the wild asparagus (Asparagus tenuifolius) is a pretty rare species whose presence here is claimed with pride.
Springtime is perfect for the harvest and in fact we are willing to go in search of the exquisite vegetable.
Walking along the path, we’ve just found out that it’s too late: the asparagus hunters are too many and they have to be beaten to the punch. A lot of bushes have already been explored, but, after a disappointing beginning, we have finally found our paradise! Let’s take some time to calmly explore the bushes full of the early vegetables. We have to be careful, look really hard to spot the asparagus among the thorny bushes.
The wild asparagus is also known as “green gold”: it is different from the cultivated type – the Asparagus officinalis available on the market – and has an unmistakable, strong taste – slightly bitter –attracting enthusiasts since ancient times.
Roman Emperors used to designate specific ships to go and harvest them, while in the ancient Egypt it was used as a healing plant. Tender and delicate, the asparagus are a panacea for our health: depurative, diuretic, detoxifying, they fight cellulite and improve kidneys function. In only a few calories, they contain a rich treasure of vitamins (A,C,B), folic acid and mineral salts (Calcium, Phosphorus and Potassium). All these characteristics make it a great ally to good mood.
We’ve got into the car again because we want to reach Roscigno Vecchia, where every year the Festival of the Wild Asparagus is hold. The town was abandoned between 1902 and 1908 because the area was about to collapse. From that point on, it has been a permanent window on the past, just like Pompei. The old stone houses, the square, the fountain: everything stayed exactly the same. Strolling around the unpaved streets and the old shops with wooden signs, it seems as if we had gone back in time.
Our journey is about to end in this evocative atmosphere, but we will be back soon: the tastes, the colours and the wonderful smells of this piece of heaven will always be in our hearts.
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