Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Trees of Trasimene

I have just come back from a very enjoyable holiday in the Umbria area of Italy, to the east of Rome I took the opportunity to take some shots of the countryside, as in the future I might want to model the scenery for a future Battle of Lake Trasimene, or fighting in the area in later periods.

The scenery today is divided between flat-bottomed valleys, devoted to agriculture and ideal for warfare, and steep heavily wooded hills. The shot below depicts the view that Hannibal's Celtic allies might have seen down towards Lake Trasimene, although the plain at the bottom is probably rather wider and better drained than in 217BC.  Moreover, it was misty on the morning of the battle.  

The trees are interesting. On the hills there are many deciduous trees, including oaks, that would be readily familiar to British audiences. Intermixed with these, however, there are exotic conifers that give a very characteristic view to the landscape, and which would make a model battlefield look very authentic. Some of these are shown below. A note of caution; some tree species such as the poplar have been developed since Roman times, but I believe the below would have been around back then.

My favourite Italian tree-type is the pencil-thin Cypress (two shown, above left). One can't have too many of these; they look particularly fine along a ridge-line. The taller the better. The pine on the right was also rather common and suitable models are readily available from China, on eBay.

The Umbrella Pines (above) are majestic trees, with a most unusual appearance. I'm hoping to be able to convert some model trees to resemble these.

There are huge numbers of olive trees, often neatly laid out on a grid. The silvery green leaves are very hard to imitate, though.

Here is the modern shoreline of Lake Trasimene. Modern Italians frolic in the sun where their ancestors fought and died; and who can blame them? It was a lovely day.

Finally above is a shot of the reed banks just along the shore of the lake. The reeds are perhaps 1.5m high. The shore to the right of the Roman column would have been very marshy. Some Romans waded out into the water, neck deep, in an attempt to escape, only to be hunted down by the Carthaginian cavalry.

I'm clearly going to need a whole lot more trees!  :-)

Umbria is a beautiful region and I can heartily recommend it for a sunny rural holiday, with great food and historical cities.

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