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Monumental trees in Lombardy
The art of knowing trees in Lombardy
Here are the most famous monumental trees in Lombardy: majestic and long-lived witnesses to the power of nature and of the historical and cultural memory of men.
Protagonists of the history of man and the environment, the monumental trees - rare, magnificent and exciting specimens of thousand year-old oaks, trees from the plains, cypresses, beeches, hackberries, pines, holm oaks, horse chestnut trees, weaves, mulberries, cedars, poplars and centuries-old larches - they are silent witnesses, but eloquent in their majesty, of the history of places and men.
Lombardy is rich in these old giants: the region, in fact, boasts the most diverse tree species. In addition, the woods of Lombardy are very varied: they are in fact made up of 194 types of forest, grouped into 16 forest categories (beech, chestnut, oak, larch, robin, maple-ash…).
According to the most recent census carried out by Mipaaf (the Ministry of Agricultural, Food, Forestry and Tourism Policies), there are 188 plants with monumental character in Lombardy. Here we present the best known, hoping that they can become the destination of the next outdoor trip, even four steps within the city center. But first, let's see what it means to be a monumental tree.
What is a monumental tree?
To be classified as "monumental", a tree must meet different criteria: it can be very ancient or enormous in size - characteristics that undoubtedly make it old patriarchs of nature - it can also qualify for its vigor, morphology, or posture. Or again, they must authoritatively represent a rare botanical species. Often, in this case, it is about trees planted in the 19th century, when love for exotic cultures reigned. But it can also be specimens of anthropological importance, historical witnesses of unique events, surviving several cycles of human life, or even protagonists of wonderful natural landscapes and home to some animal species ...
The most famous monumental trees of Lombardy
If you think that to see one of the best-known, long-lived and majestic representatives of the category you have to go far from the city, you are wrong. Often it is the metropolitan parks that hold the most precious treasures. This is the case of the Platani and the Calvi Cypresses, up to 30 meters high and with circumferences that reach six in the Sempione Park in Milan, which, together with the Gardens of Porta Venezia and Villa Litta, house wonderful specimens of Platani and Bagolari. Also in the city, we admire the Red Oak in Trotter Park, 40 meters high (4.50 circumference), which is one hundred years old in 2020. Staying within the surrounding areas of Milan, in Cassano d'Adda, right in the square in front of the Visconteo Castle, is a white mulberry that dates back to the 17th century. It is a fruit tree over 300 years old, originally from China, 4.20 meters wide and 15 meters high. Also worth mentioning is the Magnolia grandiflora, which lives in the honor courtyard of Villa Ghirlanda Silva, in Cinisello Balsamo, recognized as a monumental tree for its particular shape and bearing, plus its historical and cultural value. Finally, the twin oaks in the Monza Park are famous, one oak and one scarlet: 600 cm in diameter and over 26 meters in height, they were planted in the park at the beginning of the 19th century by the Viceroy of Italy Eugenio di Beauharnais, who brought them from America.
In the surroundings of Varese, in Somma Lombardo, there are numerous monumental trees planted in the Visconteo Castle’s park. Almost all of them date back to the first half of the 19th century, but there is an even older one: a Cedar of Lebanon from 1744, 30 meters high and with a width of 690 cm.
The lake climate, it is well known, enhances the flowering of nature, tempering the cold and creating a microenvironment that favors the growth and longevity of flora and fauna: in Como, Villa Olmo is famous for its monumental trees. The best known? A Lebanese Cedar from 1716, 25 meters high and 760 cm wide and an Oriental Sycamore from 1664, 45 m high and 860 cm wide. Two real monuments of nature!
In the province of Brescia, the monumental trees are just over 10, distributed between the Upper Garda and the Veronese Garda. In Salò, the row of evergreen cypresses planted in the 19th century and up to 30 meters high, in addition to witnessing the local history, embellishes and connotes the landscape with its great presence and considerable size, making the lakefront of the Riviera dei Limoni an unforgettable place.
We ascend in altitude, to reach the province of Sondrio where, in Ponte in Valtellina, a beautiful specimen of white mulberry, a plant historically chosen for the cultivation of silkworms, can be found. The old mulberry tree is 600 years old and is called the Murunée by the locals. Its very particular shape is due to the repeated cuts necessary to raise the worms. Crossings, twists, “Moor's heads” have all transformed it into a real sculpture.
A heritage to defend
Monumental trees are protected by law N.10 of 01/14/2013 and the relative decree of 10/23/2014. The Lombardy region has been dealing with these natural giants for years, coordinating the censuses both in the provinces and regional parks. At the forefront at the national level, Mipaaft, on whose website you can download the book "Monumental Trees of Italy" with the list of monumental trees of Italy, approved in December 2017 and which is periodically updated.