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The limestone Sorrento Peninsula isfamous for its beautiful coastalscenery. On its southern side, highcliffs shelter such historic towns as Amalfiand Positano. From its northern edge,splendid views unfold over the Bay ofNaples, to Vesuvius and Capri. Down themiddle of the peninsula a mountainousspine rises to 1,300 metres, forming atypical limestone scenery of weatheredpeaks and deep gorges. These provide afine range of habitats where a rich andvaried flora is found, together with a wealthof attendant insects and other animals.The peninsula also lies on a majormigration route, and at the time of ourspring visit the resident bird populationshould be swollen by large numbers ofmany passage species. This is an unusualNaturetrek destination for it differs from themajority of our other tours by being basedin a bustling, busy tourist region. However,for those looking to combine historicalsites with natural history, we feel this is anexcellent choice. The excitement of visitingCapri and the treasures of Pompeii willmake the inevitable crowds seeminsignificant and they will be left behind aswe seek to discover the region's richnatural history by means of an ancientnetwork of tracks, many well way-markedby the Club Alpino Italiano.We begin our holiday with a flight toNaples, just an hour's drive from Sorrentowhere we will be based throughout thisholiday in a comfortable hotel offeringspectacular views over the Bay of Naples.Sorrento is an attractive mix of ancientcathedral city, working town, port and busyresort. As a centre for communications it iswell placed to provide the various meansof transport that will assist us on ourexplorations. Here many will have their firstview of the distinctive local Italian Sparrow,whilst the monotonous but cheerful jinglingsong of Serins can be heard everywhere.We will begin our programme of walks onthe coast, enjoying woodlands carpetedwith Cyclamen repandum, and open cliff-top grasslands bedecked with Cistusspecies, the colourful Tree Spurge,broomrapes and orchids, of which Orchisitalicais the most common andwidespread. This is the typical habitat ofSardinian and Subalpine Warblers, TawnyPipit, Blue Rock Thrush and the ubiquitousFan-tailed Warbler. Here, as on all ourwalks, there are beautiful views along thecoast and across to the mountains. Youwill need plenty of film on this holiday! A short boat journey, during which we willlook out for Cory's and MediterraneanShearwaters, takes us to the island ofCapri. Here we will walk to the highestpoint, where Peregrine Falcons breed onthe steep cliffs and passing migrants aresometimes numerous. Amongst the latterwe should see Alpine, Pallid and CommonSwifts, Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Wheatears,and a variety of shrikes and warblers.Once again we should find a good varietyof orchids, including the local form of theLate Spider Orchid (Ophrys fuciflora ssp. oxyrrhynchos).Vesuvius (1,277 metres high) has aninteresting flora that illustrates well thecolonisation of lava flows. The endemiclichen Stereocaulon vesuvianumandMount Etna Broom (Genista aetnensis) areparticularly noteworthy. A car park near thetop makes exploration easy, and the walkto the summit is made well worthwhile bythe fine views, the Rock Thrushes thatinhabit the crater, and the birds of preyoverhead. At the foot of the mountain liethe excavated ruins of the Roman city ofPompeii. These show the incredibledestructive power of Vesuvius, whichengulfed not only Pompeii but also thenearby town of Herculaneum. If you havepreviously seen no more than our humbleselection of Roman ruins in Britain, thenyou will be quite unprepared for the scaleand beauty of these buildings, and theskills and planning that went into them.There is no doubt that our visit to Pompeiiwill richly reward a little time off from ournatural history explorations. Monte Faito isa very different mountain. A long ridgereached by cable car, the woods at itssummit are carpeted with Anemoneapennina, blue and white, whilst in theopen areas we should find both Romanand Sicilian Orchids (Dactylorhiza romanaand D. markusii), and Provence Orchid(Orchis provincialis). Around its rockyoutcrops a more montane flora occurs -crucifers, violas, Doronicumandsaxifrages. The views back to Vesuvius,across the Monti Lattari massif and southover to the Bay of Salerno are magnificent.The picturesque little village of Neranoprovides the backdrop for anotherstunning walk through olive groves anddown to the coast at Ieranto. Orchids areparticularly numerous here, with Sawfly,Mirror, Bumblebee and various TongueOrchids delighting the eye, while butterflyspecies likely to be seen include abundantCleopatras and Swallowtails, SouthernFestoon and various blues.We will finish our tour with a furtheropportunity to examine the garrigue, andthe more open mountainsides, as wefollow a path along the flanks of MonteCerrasuolo, which rises to 750 metresabove Positano and offers wide viewsaround the many bays of the southerncoast. These rocky areas are a goodhabitat for Italian Wall Lizard, CommonLizard and Moorish Gecko for, asthroughout this holiday, whilst it will be theflowers that hold our primary focus, we willnot ignore the many other attractions ofthe area - the reptiles, birds, butterfliesand history. Above all, the SorrentoPeninsula is able to offer a broad-rangingholiday amongst magnificent scenery,combining fascinating historical sites withthe wildlife that lives alongside them. Italy - The SorrentoPeninsulaAn 8-day exploration of the rich Mediterranean and mountain flora, birds and butterflies of this relatively undiscovered area!Wednesday 10th April - Wednesday 17th April Cost: £1,295Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Naples and drive toSorrento.Day 2/7A daily programme ofbotanical and naturalhistory walks from ourbase in Sorrento. Day 8Fly London.AccommodationA comfortable and friendly hotel inSorrento, all rooms with privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only. Grade B with oneoptional B+.FocusPlants, birds, butterflies andreptiles, plus a little history!LeadersPaul Harmes (botanist) and DaveNevitt or Terry Goble (ornithologist).Single room supplement£160.ExtensionsAvailable on request, with orwithout car rental.Web quick search: ITA0384Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryNAPLESVESUVIUSSORRENTOCAPRIAMALFISALERNOMEDITERRANEANSEAGULF OFSALERNOGULF OFNAPLESITALYAbove PositanoSardinian WarblerViola eugeniae

The Gargano Peninsula is a sparselypopulated promontory jutting into theAdriatic Sea just above the 'boot' ofItaly. It is an area of enormous botanicalinterest, yet, until recently, it has remainedrelatively unknown. A region of rollinglimestone hills and tiny, arid fields, itslandscape is punctuated by small medievaltowns and scarred by the erosion that hascreated numerous caves, dolines, swallowholes, deep gorges and rock bridges.Along the northern side of the peninsula,Aleppo Pines and the elegant spires ofItalian Cypress line the white cliffs whichplunge to the wine-dark Adriatic Sea. The fact that the peninsula was once anisland, making it geographically isolated,and the lack of intensive farming mustaccount for its exceptionally rich plant-life.Over 2,000 plant species have beenrecorded here, including 69 species oforchids (the greatest concentration ofdifferent orchid species in Europe). It wasfor this reason that the Gargano Peninsula,just 65 kilometres long and 45 kilometreswide, and reaching a maximum height of1,065 metres at Mount Calvo, was recently declared a national park. It is also,of course, the reason behind this excitingNaturetrek tour, on which we hope to seeover 40 of these orchids, together with anumber of bulbous plants and a highproportion of the endemic plant species.This will not be a strenuous tour. We will befar too busy looking at plants to walk fast!It is, however, a 2-centre holiday, starting atMonte Sant'Angelo, an attractive, clusteredmedieval town situated 800 metres up on alimestone escarpment overlooking thesouth coast. We will take some time towander its winding streets and to visit itsfamous shrine of St. Michele Archangelo.Our hotel, situated on the edge of thetown, enjoys wonderful views of the Gulf ofManfredonia, and only a short walk away isan ancient chapel surrounded by flower-laden terraces - a favourite pre-breakfastwalk of many clients. We will not move far on our first day, for wewill spend the time exploring the rockyterraces close to our hotel, wanderingamongst colourful rockroses, asphodelsand large patches of pink ButterflyOrchids. We will also see the endemic paleGoldendrop (Onosma lucana) andencounter our first Bee Orchids, Ophryspromontorii,O. passionis var garganica,O.apulica,O. bertolonii,and possibly O.bertoloniformis,together with the morefamiliar Burnt-tip, Green-winged and MilkyOrchids. On another day we will explorethe Bosco Quarto, walking through an areaof Oak and Hornbeam woods and smallrocky fields. On the way, we will stop tosee a mass of Iris pseudopumila,Narcissuspoeticus,the Pheasant's Eye Daffodil, andcarpets of the lovely Anemone apennina,while during our walk we will seeDactylorhiza romana,the Roman Orchid, aswell as large patches of the beautiful blueIris lutescens, growing in the open fields.Another expedition takes us to Monte Sacro.We picnic below the mountain in flower-filledfields, with yet more orchids: Orchis intacta,the Dense-flowered Orchid, and Ophrysbiscutellaamong them. At the top of MonteSacro there are interesting ruins of the oldabbey of St. Maria. Walking up throughQuercus ilexwe come across Ornithogalummontanumand, in open places, Orchisquadripunctataand O.pauciflora.We will spend the latter part of our holidaybased at Peschici, on the Gargano's northcoast. During our drive across thepeninsula we will enjoy a picnic in theForesta Umbra. This is a good place towalk and see Narcissus poeticus, thePheasant's Eye Daffodil, and blue patchesof the lovely Anemone apennina. We willspend some time exploring the forest, avast woodland reserve of Beech, Holm andTurkey Oak, Hornbeam and Italian Mapleset in the heart of the peninsula. Peschiciis a small and charming fishing village thatspills down the cliffs into the sea. Insummer this is a busy seaside resort butduring our visits we will almost have it toourselves. Our hotel looks out over theharbour, with steps winding up behind usto the old town. From here we will spend a full day inexploration of the north coast. We willmake many botanical stops but our site ofkey focus is Bosco di Spinapulci, a rockyhillside with many familiar Mediterraneanplants, including Cyclamen repandumandsome interesting orchids, includingSerapias cordigera,Ophrys parvimaculata,and the Fragrant Bug Orchid, Orchisfragrans. During the last part of the day wemay take the opportunity to explore theGargano's largest dolina, its limestonecontent assuring us of interesting flowers.By the end of our holiday we will have hadsome wonderful experiences in a relativelyunknown area, and enjoyed the genuinefriendliness of the local people, thebeautiful scenery, excellent local food(including some superb fish!) and winesand, we hope, will have returned with alengthy and highly interesting plant list.Flowers of Italy'sGargano PeninsulaAn 8-day holiday of gentle botanical walks in search of the unique flora - especially the profusion of orchid species - of the Gargano Peninsula.Monday 15th April - Monday 22nd April Cost: £1,295Monday 22nd April - Monday 29th April Cost: £1,295Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationPESCHICIFOREST OF UMBRAVIESTEMONTE SANT'ANGELOMANFREDONIAFROM/TO BARIMT. CALVOOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Bari and transfer toMonte Sant'Angelo.Day 2/5A daily programme ofgentle botanical walksfrom our base in MonteSant'Angelo.Day 6Transfer to Peschici.Day 7Botanical walks fromPeschici.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationTwo comfortable and friendlyfamily-run hotels, both with privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only. Grade A/B.FocusPlants, especially the region'swealth of orchids.LeadersAndrew Cleave and Lee Morgan. Single room supplement £150.Extensions Arranged on request.Web quick search: ITA0285View from Monte Sant'AngeloOphrys bertolonii