I’ve been to Italy many times, but only in this last visit did I really notice the extent to which agricultural land coexists with built spaces in many of the towns – at least in the areas around and to the south of Naples, which is where I was based this time. In amongst the houses and shops and businesses are patches of earth just sown with lines of crops, or small, shady fields of vines, or groves of olives or lemon trees. On any surface too steep to plant houses, the land has been terraced and turned over to agricultural use. Steep-sided valleys run in from the sea, and split these hill-towns into pieces. Look out from the railed edge of a piazza and you’ll see the sea; look down and you’ll find a verdant profusion of orchards, vineyards, patches of cauliflower and squash, tomatoes … The best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. Makes you wonder. Flower gardens and parks are beautiful, but imagine if towns everywhere – and individual homeowners too – used their green spaces to grow their own food instead.
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