urban botanical milan #milanobotanica @LinariaRete @SpigaSt cc @TerraUomoCielo

Those of us who work in the wine business rarely go to Milan. But I try to go every chance I get: not only is Milan where many of my friends from Padua university days live and work (in the publishing industry), it’s also one of the most thrilling European cultural capitals, one of the best places in Italy to eat seafood (surprising but true), and now the subject of a microblog devoted to the city as botanical garden.

The author and curator is one of my oldest and dearest friends in Italy, Stefano Spigariol.

You can follow the microblog via #MilanoBotanica or by visiting the Facebook of Linaria, a Milanese publisher and non-profit environmental activist group.

Those are snowberries (Symphoricarpos albus) in the photo above. And the map that will lead you to them below…

Here are some hedge-apples (Maclura pomifera)…

And here’s the map…

The wonderful project has received a lot of attention from both literary and gardening circles in Italy.

What fascinates me about it is how it speaks to a theme that pervades the twentieth-century Italian narrative: the natural alienation (estrangement) of citizens who migrate from rural areas to major urban centers.

While I grew up in a big city and have lived in big cities all of my life, many of my Italian friends — like Stefano — left small towns in rural areas to study in major metropoles. Stefano’s taxonomic “discovery” of urban botanical Milan represents a subversion of such alienation, however fleeting.

It’s a great project and I’m looking forward to following along…