Hundred Horse Chestnut
The Hundred-Horse Chestnut (Italian: Castagno dei Cento Cavalli; Sicilian: Castagnu dê Centu Cavaddi) is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world. Located on Linguaglossa road in Sant'Alfio, on the eastern slope of Mount Etna in Sicily — only 8 km (5.0 mi) from the volcano's crater — it is generally believed to be 2,000 to 4,000 years old (4,000 according to the botanist Bruno Peyronel from Turin). It is a Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa, family Fagaceae). Guinness World Records has listed it for the record of "Greatest Tree Girth Ever", noting that it had a circumference of 57.9 m (190 ft) when it was measured in 1780. Above-ground the tree has since split into multiple large trunks, but below-ground these trunks still share the same roots.
The tree's name originated from a legend in which a queen of Aragon and her company of one hundred knights, during a trip to Mount Etna, were caught in a severe thunderstorm. The entire company is said to have taken shelter under the tree.
|Un pedi di castagna||A chestnut tree|
|tantu grossu||was so large|
|ca ccu li rami so' forma un paracqua||that its branches formed an umbrella|
|sutta di cui si riparò di l'acqua,||under which refuge was sought from the rain|
|di fùrmini, e saitti||from thunder bolts and flashes of lightning|
|la riggina Giuvanna||by Queen Giuvanna|
|ccu centu cavaleri,||with a hundred knights,|
|quannu ppi visitari Mungibeddu||when on her way to Mt Etna|
|vinni surprisa di lu timpurali.||was taken by surprise by a fierce storm.|
|D'allura si chiamò||From then on so was it named|
|st'àrvulu situatu 'ntra 'na valli||this tree nestled in a valley and its courses|
|lu gran castagnu d'i centu cavalli.||the great chestnut tree of one hundred horses.|
|Dal tronco, enorme torre millenaria,||From the trunk, huge millenary tower,|
|i verdi rami in folli ondeggiamenti,||the green branches in mad waves,|
|sotto l'amplesso quèrulo dei venti,||under the chattery embrace of the winds,|
|svettano ne l'ampiezza alta de l'aria.||lance into the air's tall expanse.|
|Urge la linfa, ne la statuaria||The sap rises in the statuesque|
|perplessità de le radici ergenti,||astonishment of erect roots,|
|sotto i lacoontei contorcimenti,||under Laocoön-like contortions,|
|dal suolo che s'intesse d'orticaria.||from a nettle-woven soil.|
|E l'albero - Briareo lignificato -||And the tree – wooden Briareus –|
|ne lo spasimo atroce che lo stringe||in the throes of the invisible|
|con catene invisibili alla terra,||fetters that bind it to the earth,|
|tende le braccia multiple di sfinge||strains its many limbs as a Sphinx|
|scagliando contro il cielo e contro il fato||hurling against the sky and against fate|
|una muta minaccia ebbra di guerra.||a voiceless threat sodden with war.|
The novel The Overstory by American writer Richard Powers includes the following in the chapter titled "Nicholas Hoel": "Seven hundred years before, a chestnut in Sicily two hundred feet around sheltered a Spanish queen and her hundred mounted knights from a raging storm."
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chestnut". Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 112–113.
- "Chestnut Dinner in the Mountains of Italy". Barilla online. 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-10-18. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- Senna, Luciana (2005). Authentic Sicily. Touring Editore. p. 112. ISBN 88-365-3403-1..
- Lewington, Anna; Edward Parker (2002). Ancient Trees: Trees That Live for 1,000 Years. Sterling Publishing Co. p. 92. ISBN 1-85585-974-2.
- The Chestnut tree of Mount Etna, detailed account of the tree, its state and its surroundings, written by Wm. Rushton on June 29, 1871.
- "Poesie sul Castagno dei Cento Cavalli". (Sicilian) Catania Natura. Dipartimento di Botanica, University of Catania. Retrieved 2006-12-22.
- "Various illustrations of the tree throughout history". Archived from the original on May 9, 2006. Retrieved December 22, 2006.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)