It's proving a bit tricky to get accurate information on the age of the tree, or to even get through the gate for that matter. (No, that rope fence isn't holding me back - I'm still relegated to the outer circle of the high metal fence. I stuck my camera through the slats, my arms separated by a post, to get this shot.)
I've gotten a small taste of Italian bureaucracy in trying to gain access and information, but it's been tempered by one of the most helpful people I've yet to meet on my travels. Valentina, jack of all trades at the agroturisomo, sat and made call after call for me this morning, speaking in rapid Italian to scientists in Catania and Florence. The first, it turned out, was an entomologist. He passed along the information for someone he said was an expert on the tree. When we got her on the phone, she told that she would study the tree, except she's not all that interested in forestry. She passed along the name of another 'expert,' this one who was at least offer up the information that there is a book on the subject. Which brought us full circle back to the first call Valentina made, to Sant'Alfio City Hall. Someone will be coming up to meet us here this afternoon, perhaps with book in hand. And then we'll set out together to find the traffic carabinieri to open the gate.