Tainted landscapes

The maquis overlooking the Golfo Dei Poeti outside La Spezia, Italy

For me, the quintessence of the Mediterranean landscape is the evergreen shrubland covering most of the lands around the sea, as well as those of its islands. This biome is known in French as ‘maquis’ and in Italian as ‘macchia’, hence the term maquis shrubland in English. In French, the word also designates metonymically the French resistance, whose rural guerilla fighters had initially taken refuge in the woods and the maquis during the Nazi occupation.

The maquis is everywhere, revealing and concealing the profusion of the Mediterranean’s natural energy. Its dark green tones are a welcome sign that the sea rules those lands. The wine-dark sea needs suitable chromatic companionship.

A cypress or a parasol pine tree breaks away from the maquis cluster on a hill or mountain top to remind us that one can make it on its own in those parts, that the Mare Nostrum has welcomes everybody.

The maquis is a brushstroke on the face of the earth, a stain made around the sea for the sake of beauty and contrast. The root of the word maquis is the Latin macula which means stain. The opposite of macula leads to immaculat, unstained, untouched, but it doesn’t really apply to the maquis, whose beauty is as unspoiled as it is enduring.

Your next caffe macchiato or morning maquillage will get you thinking about how stained (with shrubland, milk or makeup) the world really is.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s