I'll always look for an outdoorsy/ bushcraft angle on any family holiday I go on but a recent one to Sorrento in Italy gave me cause for optimism because of it's hot climate and Mediterranean location.
I had to search quite hard to find any nature based websites covering the area and when I arrived I worked out why...There wasn't that much to write home about. A fairly broad brush statement but without going off on an expedition the general view was a bit sparse. As an example we generally saw a few gulls, sparrows, robins and collared doves on the bird front, I get more than that in my garden.
That said the countryside was covered in Prickly Pear cacti, I had great fun 'hunting' lizards in the hotel garden, I think the fish featured are anchovies and the Buckshorn Plantain (Plantago coronopus) alludes to the coastal location.
We took a tour of the countryside with a Limoncello tasting included. The guide then asked us what all the other ingredients were and I'm pleased to say that I guessed all bar one odf them. The one that stood out was a jar rammed with Fennel flowers (Foeniculum vulgare) which were gathered from the countryside. It's the same wild fennel that we find in the UK and predictably it gave it an aniseed flavour...actually an overpowering aniseed flavour.
With the sun being so fierce in the region the olive, citrus, apricot and plum growers all erect a screen of mesh-like sheeting over their trees to let light and rain in but to deflect the worse of the rays to prevent damage.
One of the tour guides said that they harvest Sweet Chestnut wood for this purpose and low and behold we passed several stacks of them by the roadside including this supply. It's hard to say how tall the ones in the picture are but they would easily be of a length that one could fashion a tipi over.
Whilst the flora and fauna didn't quite match up to expectation it was the two unexpected little discoveries of plant and tree usage that stick in the mind.