For years I’ve wanted to see the Piano Grande di Castelluccio, a wide plain that hangs high up in the Sibillini Mountains, on the eastern edge of Umbria in central Italy. I’ve always felt an affinity for great peaks and valleys, as I grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and was raised on spectacular mountain scenery. It always feels like home.
When I finally had the chance in June to drive from near Assisi up to the Piano Grande and to see the hill town of Castelluccio (top photo,) I was not disappointed.
The region is beautiful. Wide fields of flowers, the occasional herds of grazing sheep and cows in different spots, and the mountains rising in a ring around the valley all made for stunning views.
I bought home a large bag of the tiny, sweet lentils that the area is famous for producing. Can’t wait to give them a try!
The Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini comprises more than 50 mountain peaks over 2,000 metres high, stretching for no less than 40 kilometres from north to south between Umbria and the Marches.
Following Letizia’s excellent advice, I drove from Foligno to the village of Visso, which is on the edge of the Mount Sibillini national park. My friend Philippe, who was my co-pilot, and I had an excellent lunch at the family-style Trattoria da Richetta in Visso’s Piazza Garibaldi. He raved about the fresh river trout, which Letizia had also recommended.
From there it was an easy drive up, though steep and winding, via the town of Castelsantangelo to the Piano Grande. We stopped several times to look at the scenery, and were amazed that even in the middle of June, there were really few others on the road (a significant change from the Banff-Jasper highway back home in Alberta, a scenic route that is lined with tourists in every season!)
Our route then looped down to the fascinating town of Norcia (more on that later) and we were back at Letizia’s by sunset.
I was a little worried that my rental car, a little Fiat 500, might not be up for the steady climbs through the mountains. But the road was good all the way, and she did just fine!