Italian Trees in Arizona

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photo4Unless you know your Italian-American history lets face it, Arizona does not conjure up images of Italian refugees, escaping the shanty hillside towns of Italy in search of a new beginning and a new life in America, particularly in the dry, unforgiving desert of Arizona.  But that’s exactly what happened over a century ago!

After the Italians colonized the obvious places such as New York, Chicago, Boston and other cities, they also came to Globe, Arizona, a town located about 75 miles east of Phoenix and to a place that was probably not even on any US geological maps back in 1913, one full year after Arizona itself got its statehood.

Globe features a wide array of heart stopping, culturally sound entertainment options. From the local Pizza Hut, Italian influence I think, to Taco Bell, a true reflection of the Spanish-American lineage that dates back to the time of the early Spanish explorers.

Of course I kid, but what Globe Arizona does have, in its blunt and bittersweet way, is a rich and vibrant past and a dismal, if often anonymous, present.

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Considered one of the most important mining towns of the 20th century in Arizona, Globe became a bonanza for mining copper, coal, and raising cattle, sitting at an altitude of about 3,500 ft, the town gets its name from the Apache Indians, meaning “place of metals”.

As it often happens however, boom times went bust and by the 1970’s, the town’s decline was well underway.  Most of the coal and other natural resources had been mined and businesses, along with patrons began to look elsewhere for their daily needs.

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Nowadays, retirees and staunch hold over’s colonize the place and of course, Italians, which accounts for the amazing amount of beautiful Italian Cyprus trees that dot sections of town and completely stand out as visitors from another planet among the natural landscape of the high Arizona desert.

photo7With some of their roots measuring 5-6 ft in diameter, these trees grow in some areas to over 75 ft in height and in some cases, are as old as Arizona itself.  It’s a beautiful touch of the Mediterranean in the desert and a nostalgic declaration from the Italian community, showing their love of Italy and their desire to make a home for themselves in Arizona, complete with accents from the old country.

Some dreams have lived and some have died over the years in Globe, but I have always appreciated the landscape, the photo2rolling hills, the Italian Cyprus and the history that surrounds the now sleepy town of only 7,500.  Highway 60 only shows a fraction of the trees that are planted all over town so I would suggest getting off the main highway and either by car or preferably foot, climb the hills of town and appreciate and see Globe Arizona for what it really is.

Many of these “Arizona mining towns” had their heyday years ago, but Globe to me is one of the best examples of a place that can still roll with the changes of time and still assert itself with pride and beauty and merge together the natural landscape of the desert with the hopes, culture and dreams of its current residents.

—Josh

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