The name Papilio refers to the butterflies seen fluttering amidst the flowers that fill the countryside hereabouts. The numerous varieties of wild or appropriately planted native plants provide a habitat for these multicoloured insects. A short stroll and we reach the pond, where the flora and microfauna form a perfect example of harmonious coexistence among various living species in an unspoilt habitat, a typical biotope of the highest environmental importance. In addition to the pond and the interaction among the various species, here you can observe the complex biological cycle of the local butterflies and see, close-up, the various stages of their growth. Information literature is available for guests.
The WWF has raised the alarm: butterflies are disappearing from Italy. So we feel we have a duty to protect them and to make people aware of a question which may seem trivial but, let's admit it, a meadow with no butterflies would be a very cheerless meadow, especially for our children. There's no need for intensive butterfly-breeding. The flowers they feed on (and the plants the caterpillars eat) are enough to attract butterflies, if they want. Local farmers mustn't worry: the caterpillars eat mainly wild plants such as nettle, angelica, dill, etc. Our little friends the day-flying lepidopterans are an excellent indicator of environmental quality. And as they fly from flower to flower to sip the nectar, they, like bees, help to pollinate plants. A few more steps and we advance into the little oak wood where we can enjoy the sound of silence, broken only by animal calls.
Papilio is a Latin term for butterfly. Podere Papilio is dedicated to these extraordinary insects which have chosen this place as their habitat for the presence of the flowers and wild plants they feed on. In doing so, they give us the gift of displays of their amazing beauty. Great poets, writers, philosophers and eminent figures from the worlds of science and culture have already said everything there is to say about butterflies. I like to remember the celebrated screenwriter Tonino Guerra, a great friend of butterflies and a fervent atheist, who once said that whenever he saw a butterfly his unshakeable belief in the non-existence of a Creator started to waver. For the joy of butterfly buffs and entomologists, I've seen the following at Podere Papilio in spring: Lycaenids (including Satyrium ilicis, Callophrys rubi and Lycaena phlaeas), Nymphalidae (Vanessa cardui, Polygonia egea, Issoria lathonia, Limenitis camilla, Melitaea didyma, Melitaea phoebe, Mellicta athalia, Nymphalis polychloros), Papilionids (Iphiclides podalirius – caterpillars on the almond tree opposite the front door, Papilio machaon, Zerynthia polyxena – a rare, protected butterfly, I found its caterpillars on the outside walls of the house), Pierids (Pieris brassicae, Pieris napi, Pieris rapae, Colias hyale, Colias croceus, Aporia crataegi, Gonepteryx rhamni, Gonepteryx cleopatra, Pontia daplidice, Euchloe ausonia) and also Pararge megera and aegeria, Pyronia tithonus, Maniola jurtina, Melanargia galathea etc. In May and June I've found many caterpillars of these species since the presence of a wide variety of their foodplants makes this area an ideal habitat for them.
A holiday like many others or experience to live and keep in our minds and hearts? It's your choice: we propose, for example, a walk in the woods looking for flowers and butterflies, often rare, to photograph them and learn about this hobby, fun and healthy at the same time, in contact with the nature and with the aid of an expert. But there is also a chance to see, in the farm, how to prepare good cheese with ancient methods, starting from fresh milk. And while we're on the subject, why not watch the preparation of homemade pasta, orecchiette for example, typical and excellent Apulian pasta. Of course, after seeing these preparations so yummy, it just has to taste them in a rural environment, as it was once on holidays. But that's not all: there is also the chance to take a ride on horseback, sitting comfortably on an old carriage, for the ancient sheep tracks of the Murgia, or to join a group bike ride, with a mountain bike or a e-bike for the less energetic, rented together with a guide. It just has to ask questions and go!