Friday, March 30, 2012
Visible even from Giadrezze, on the other side of the inland sea and beyond the arsenal, there stands a tall, solitary palm. It is the last, the very last, or almost the very last, of a race of giants that adorned the gardens which have now been converted into the 'New Quarter.' I imagine it is the highest existing palm in Italy, and am glad to have taken a likeness of it, ere it shall have been cut down like the rest of its fellows. Taranto was once celebrated for these queenly growths, which the Saracens brought over from their flaming Africa.
The same fate has overtaken the trees of the Villa Beaumont, which used to be a shady retreat, but was bought by the municipality and forthwith 'pulizzato'i.e. cleaned. This is in accordance with that mutilomania of the south: that love of torturing trees which causes them to prune pines till they look like paint-brushes that had been out all night, and which explains their infatuation for the much-enduring robinia that allows itself to be teased into any pattern suggested by their unhealthy phantasy. It is really as if there were something offensive to the Latin mind in the sight of a well-grown tree, as if man alone had the right of expanding normally.