Castelluccio and the Piano Grande

Like a green lake surrounded by mountains ...

The Piano Grande. Photo: Steffen Müller
The Piano Grande. Photo: Steffen Müller

The Piano Grande

What is now the Piano Grande was a lake in the last ice age, which later dried up. The 30 square kilometers of the plain are framed by the Monti Sibillini, a mountain range of 32 peaks rising up to over 2,500 meters and thus one of the highest in the Appennines.

In Spring and Summer, the Piano Grande is transformed into a sea of colors: on the unpolluted marshes, thousands of rare wildflowers blossom. On the slopes, quarry plants produce colorful dyes. And on the fields around the village of Castelluccio, the lentils form a blue carpet, embroidered with red poppies and yellow rape.

Fioritura Castelluccio. Photo F.Ciminari - www.castellucciodinorcia.eu
Fioritura Castelluccio. Photo F.Ciminari - www.castellucciodinorcia.eu

Rare wild plants

Numerous and sometimes rare plants are growIng on the moist fields and on the bare rocky ground: various orchid species, chess flowers, wild peonies, asphodel and the very rare beech tree sedge.

In the south-east, a 2 km long gorge divides the plateau, the "Fosso di Mergari". It is 30 meters wide and 10 meters deep. In the spring, the melting water collects here and then disappears in a mysterious funnel-shaped drain hole, the "Inghiottitoio". It reappears after 20 km and almost 1000 meters further down below at Norcia.

In May and June, the ditch is filled with water pools, where you can even take a refreshing bath, or if that is too cold for you, you can just admire the blooming watercaps.

The Monti Sibillini - a paradise for mountain hikers

The Monti Sibillini offer an extensive network of hiking trails, even for several days of excursions. And because there is hardly any tourism, nothing has been installed here - unlike in the Alps. Instead of bare ski slopes, mountain cable car stations and hotels, you can enjoy pure nature here.

The Monti Sibilini are legendary: the sorceress Sibilla is said to have been banished to a grotto at Monte Sibilla. And Pontius Pilate is said to have drowned himself in Pilato's Lake, out of remorse for his guilt at the death of Jesus ...

Castelluccio di Norcia

Castelluccio di Norcia
Castelluccio di Norcia

 

To the north of the Piano Grande there is the small village of Castelluccio, situated on a hill. It is one of the highest and most inaccessible villages in the whole Appennines (1,452 m above sea level). In winter the village is often cut off from the outside world.

It was partly destructed by the earthquake of October 30, 2016 but reconstruction is on its way. Visiting the Piano Grande is also a sign of solidarity with those who are in danger of loosing their livelihood if there is no more tourism in this area!

Wall poems at Castelluccio di Norcia. www.castellucciodinorcia.eu
Wall poems at Castelluccio di Norcia. www.castellucciodinorcia.eu

Perhaps this is why a bizarre custom has developed here: for more than 50 years, love confessions and blasphemies have been secretly painted with lime on the walls of the houses, a sort of traditional graffiti and street poetry.

In the course of the decades, hardly a house wall remained unaffected. However, Castelluccio in the last 10 years has become a bit more prosperous, houses were restored and unfortunately some of the traditional "love poems" have disappeared.

Lentils, sausages and bruschetta

And we would not be in Umbria if you could not eat well. After an extensive hike, drop in at "Guerrin Meschino" . From the terrace you can enjoy the breathtaking view over the whole plateau.
Here you can taste the famous Castelluccio lentils, served with sausages as "Salsiccie in umido". But also the sumptuous bread plates with ham from Norcia and Pecorino from their own production are exactly the right treat after a day in the fresh air.

View from the terrace of "Guerrin Meschino" at Castelluccio. Photo: Steffen Müller
View from the terrace of "Guerrin Meschino" at Castelluccio. Photo: Steffen Müller

The Piano Grande and Castelluccio can be reached from La Rogaia, Castel Rigone, in about 2 hours. It is particularly beautiful from May to June.

On the 3rd Sunday of June, the "Festa della Fioritura" takes place in Castelluccio. This is when the lentils are in full bloom. However, the usually so quiet area gets quite overrun on this particular day, so we recommend a different day for a visit to Castelluccio.

Importiant information!

Castelluccio and Norcia were seriously affected by the earthquakes of 2016.

Castelluccio and the Piano Grande are only accessible to a limited extent.  At the moment you can get there only from the East via Arquata del Tronto (June 2017).

We strongly recommend that you check with the tourist information office before visiting.

Ufficio Informazioni Norcia Tel. 0039 0743 828173

Pro-Loco Castelluccio Tel   0039 3386267022 (Mobile number)

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