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CHAPTER III
Tours around Vila Rica

Etching 48 Itacolumi mountain

Itacolumi is the highest peak of the Serra de Ouro Preto, whose slopes to the

south form the narrow valley where the city lies. To climb this hill, we left the

valley in the morning at eight o'clock, crossing the Ribeirao de Ouro Preto, and arrived at noon to the summit. The road goes through the hill in the middle of tender grass, sometimes through low woods at the top. Little by little, the plateau of the hill widened, and we found ourselves on an extensive plain, which rises sweetly, and on whose bottom rises the last pillar of rock. This plain is covered with pastures and some groups of weeds. At one point and another, thick woods of low, heavily leafy groves occupied gullies and depressions. These tree groves, which are called capoes here (corruption of the word caapau, island, of the general language) (1), as islands in the bush, form a characteristic feature in the pasture region, and consist mostly of species of plants that only appear here (2). Upon reaching the summit, huge blocks of rock and whitish gneiss cliffs stand out among the grassy plains. There stands out above all a colossal block of rock, separated from the summit, sloping a little to cross below, and which from Vila Rica was perfectly sighted (3).

At noon we stood at the foot of the highest ridge, the cone of which is partly covered with grass and low thickets; sometimes exposing the bare wall of the rock; We left the mules, which we rode comfortably here, to graze in the parched fields, and made the ascension of the last part of the mountain. From the top, a magnificent and vast panorama of all the surrounding mountains dominated us.

Summit of Itacolumi

1) Capao, in this geographical aspect, comes from the topical words caa, "bush", and pau, "island", meaning not only "island", as the text says, but "island of mato '", Inst. Hist. And Geogr. Bras.) These include several tree species of the genus Laurus, Vochisia, Annona, Uvaria, Xylopia, Myrtus, Weinmania, Styrax,

Laurus cinnamomum

Styrax officinale

Bauhinia guianensis

Bauhinia, Coccoloba, Chiococa, Amajovea, Chomelia, Sapium, Gymnanthes, Spixia, closely intertwined with the Paullinian vines and Echites. Collecting plants here sometimes is impossible due to swampy soil or large snakes.
2) Looking like this rock was the son of the main peak, it gave reason for the name given by the Indians: ita, "stone", and colomi, "little son".

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