Natura della Maremma

So this summer I have been fortunate enough to dig at a new site in Italy, Cosa. Cosa is situated along the coast of Tuscany in an area called the Maremma, it is an area known for their cows and malaria (which was eradicated mainly by the fascists, thanks Mussolini). With this new area of excavation has also brought a new environment in which I am constantly exploring and finding new things. This blog post is mostly dedicated to the creatures and plants I’ve found in my archaeological trompings.

Cosa is on a hill, as I’ve mentioned before, that is covered with an old olive orchard. Most of the area is covered in olive trees, juniper bushes, wild mint, wild anise, creeping vines and thorns. There have been a lot of wild flowers all over the hill, with a large amount of poppies on the hill (stay tuned for a poppy themed picture post). There are a lot of lizards, ants and snakes on the hill, but if you come early in the morning you will find a few red deer (I saw one leaping away one morning). While exploring the different parts of the town I’ve also found evidence for cinghiale (wild boar) who root around on the hill. During the heat of the day you can see seagulls and sparrows soaring in the sky and from time to time an Eurasian Jay comes to visit our excavations.

Moving away from the hill back towards our home we live alongside a lagoon and brackish river which brings out an unique and sulfurous smell. There is a lovely sea breeze most of the time in the Torre that helps counter the decayed plant smell of the lagoon. There are tons of birds in the area like gulls, egrets, herons, and hooded crows. There is also a family of nutria (think beaver rats) living next to our house.

In addition to all the wild creatures there are several dogs that visit us. At Cosa, Haciko the corgi owned by the site photographer, will come and lay by our trenches. In Albinia Lizzy, a golden mix from the neighboring shop, visits us during dinner and begs for food and petting.

It is an amazing new environment to explore. This summer I was fortunate enough to be here during burning season which allowed for one of my most memorable moments. We cut a large amount of brush from the basilica and curia which the care takers of Cosa told us to burn. So yesterday morning, Jay and I woke early to head to site and start burning brush. Graziano, one of the works came to help as well. It was such an wonderful experience and it was at that time that I really noticed the nature sprawling through Cosa. The smell of smoke mixing with the crushed wild anise was divine and the view of the sun rise over Orbetello was amazing (I think Louie C.K. would agree that my use of amazing here is appropriate). The whole experience was one of those breath taking moments and one that made me very thankful to be working it Italy again this summer.

That is all for now. With the end of the week coming expect and update on what is happening at Cosa (although their blog is doing a good job of that too) and a weekend update.

Ciao for now,



About handyatmurlo

I am a Latin teacher at Regis Jesuit High School. I earned my MA at CU Boulder and my BA at UMass Amherst. I have spent my summers working in Italy as an archaeologist at three different sites. One I have worked at for 10 years at Poggio Civitate at Vescovado di Murlo. I have worked at the Villa of Maxentius in Rome for 2 years, before the project ended. I also spent 2 summers at the FSU excavations in Cosa.
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2 Responses to Natura della Maremma

  1. Patricia Carroll says:

    Anise?! One of the townspeople must have a recipe to make that into the flavoring like Grandma Ida!!!!!

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