This gravity-defying fig tree in the ancient ruins of a Roman villa continues to grow downwards year after year, even bearing figs.
Baiae was an ancient Roman town located on the northwest shore of the Guld of Naples, in Phlegraenan Fields, which is an active volcanic area.
The ancient town was a notorious resort for the wealthiest aristocrats of Rome. Even emperors, such as Julius Caesar, Nero, and Caligula had villas in the luxurious town.
Most of the villas were built in a very bold fashion, from 100 BC to AD 500, with much of the town becoming imperial property under the rule of Augustus.
The common fig tree, Ficus carica, is native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, but now it can be found in every corner of the world. The edible fig was one of the first plants ever that humans cultivated. Ancient fig fossils have been found in the Jordan Valley, north of Jericho, and they date back to 9400-9200 BC. Edible fig was very widespread in ancient Greece, and it was also a popular food source for the Romans as well. So, it’s quite likely that the wealthy guests of Baiae were feasting on figs too.
Even though the plant itself prefers dry and sunny locations with fresh soil, it can grow out of pretty much anything as long as there’s a small source of water available. Due to its aggressive and strong roots, it can support itself even in the most inhospitable locations, such as an ancient Roman ceiling, for example.
It’s very likely that this particular fig tree growing out of the ruins of Baiae gets its source of water from the rain that sips through the rocks. However, it’s impossible to know what made the tree want to grow this way, and what made it possible in the first place. Nevertheless, it is a prime example of life always finding a way.