The common or Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) is a very common plant in Italy, but it is probably not autochthonous, despite the fact that today it represents one of the most characteristic species of the peninsula.
The unmistakable silhouettes of this conifer are an essential feature of the physiognomy and iconic landscape, especially in central Italy.
The cypress has become a symbol of the hilly Tuscan landscape in particular. After the Etruscan and Roman periods, the cypress enjoyed a new phase of great popularity around 1400, when noble families and large agrarians encouraged its planting in their gardens and on their landed estates. Isolated specimens, avenues or in small groups, planted near villas, churches, castles or crossroads, served as a reference point for travellers quite frequently. Cypress wood also began to be appreciated for the manufacture of fixtures and furniture, due to its durability and the scent of resin that continues to emanate even after many years.
One of the longest-lived cypress trees in Italy is in the Franciscan monastery of Santa Croce in Villa Verucchio (Rimini). Legend has it that St Francis, while travelling in the province of Rimini in the 13th century, planted the "staff" that supported him during his journey in the ground. This stick took root in a miraculous way, giving life to a cypress that would remain in history. The 700-year-old Cypress of St. Francis is 25 metres high and has a circumference of 5 metres at its base.