Italy 2023

Images from 7 days in the Aosta Valley and a couple days in Liguria, from a holiday prematurely ended because of a broken leg.


8/17/20233 min read

This summer I spent some time in the amazing Aosta valley in Northern Italy, mainly targeting butterflies as these reach an incredible diversity (and density as it would turn out) here. I drove off together with my partner in late June, staying one week until early July.  After our amazing week in the alps, we drove on to Liguria. In a long tunnel on the highway, one of my tires exploded, the first sign of the bad luck to come. We made it out the tunnel safely, albeit a bit scared, and were quickly rescued. The beach part of this holiday could then begin, only to be crudely ended after a few days, by none other than myself, breaking my leg. After a traumatic 6 days in hospital, I returned home, spending a lot more time recovering (and sleeping). At this point I'm ready to start looking back, and to share some pictures, to remember the good parts of the holiday ;). Starting off with images of some of the many species from the Lycaenidae family. I want to give special attention to the incredibly rare Piedmont anomalous blue, a tiny brown species off blue, that occurs only in 1 tiny part of the Aosta valley. Looking at a marbled white, I suddenly noticed a tiny brown butterfly getting ready to sleep, and without a second thought I knew I was looking at the aforementioned. A super fresh individual, probably one of the first to emerge from it's pupae this year.  

Aside from a ton of different blues, that are either difficult or nearly impossible to correctly identify, we also found a ton of other species. Fritillaries were widely represented, both in density and diversity, but we also saw apollos (Parnassius apollo) after missing these in Germany, along with skippers and all sorts of other goodness. Great sooty satyrs (Satyrus ferula) and marbled whites (Melanargia galathea) were incredibly abundant, and these species combined with the others made for some incredible experiences , walking along paths with butterflies in every single spot you looked. Below are some favorites, but just as with the blues above, we saw many more species that I didn't get photographs of that are worth sharing.

Besides butterflies, there was plenty to see, both in the landscape department (see below) and in the wildlife department. We saw Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and plenty of marmots (Marmota marmota) the latter of which were pretty high on my wishlist. Another species that was high on my wishlist, alpine Ibex, sadly evaded me, even after a long hike up to a location where they were supposedly often seen. Smaller life didn't go underappreciated of course and I spent some time getting a nice shot of a wart-biter (Decticus verrucivorus). We saw plenty of moths , of which the Nine-spotted moth (Amata phegea) was common and (in my eyes) the most photogenic, so some shots of them are included. 

As mentioned above, the landscapes were incredibly almost everywhere we went, so below are a few shots of them. I think this gallery mostly showcases how my landscape photography falls behind compared to my wildlife, but with such epic views, getting a bad shot is nearly impossible.

Moving on after the alps, the camera didn't go in the bag quite yet, as I had jotted down some caves on our route, where we could find two spectacular amphibians. These cave salamanders (Speleomantes strinatii & ambrosii) were both found rather easily, the former being especially abundant in it's cave, with well over a hundred individuals plastering the walls. A single Italian stream frog (Rana italica) was also found in this cave, adding another lifer to my list. Taking pictures of these animals was incredible and my girlfriend was very patient to wait for her beach holiday just a little longer. At the campsite another surprise waited for me in the form of one of Europe's coolest jumping spiders. I knew this species occured, but I had never seen them before, so I was rather surprised when I saw an amazing male Saitis barbipes on the campsites toilet building. Aside from this, it was beaches and touristy stuff, so what do you do when you're in one of Italy's most scenic towns? Exactly, take pictures of yellow-legged gulls and barn swallows. If I hadn't broken my leg, it would have truly been a great holiday, but even with that leg, at least we have the pictures to look back on :)