« Sunrises in Umbria | Main | Just call me Arachne (2) »

The Piano Grande di Castelluccio

castel1.jpg

castel2.jpg

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!

castel3.jpg

castel.jpg

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!

castel4.jpg


Comments (11)

Brad'll Do It:

Was it much cooler than Foligno in the Piano Grande?

Where do you look on a Fiat 500 to tell if it's a boy or girl?

sandrac:

Hi Brad, you know, I thought there would be a dramatic difference in temperature up at Castelluccio, but there really wasn't -- I suppose because we were there in the middle of the day and in sunshine.

And I knew my little Fiat was a girl 'cuz she was so pretty :)

Cute car!!! Wow, the Piano Grande is spectacular. Love your photos. What a life it must be having that as your view when you wake up in the morning.

Wow, what an amazing place. Your photos are gorgeous! Those lentils sound wonderful and the little girl car is cute. :)

Stunning views! Now on my list too.

Vicky:

Hey, no fair! You must've color-corrected those photos!

Seriously, gorgeous. :)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I've read so much on Slow Talk about this part of Italy and no wonder from looking at your beautiful photos. I'm so glad you were able to see it in person on this trip. The drive and the places you stopped to dine in sounds so wonderful. My must see list in Italy just got a little longer too ...

Your Fiat looks so cute. I was trying to look inside to see if GC was hiding in the back seat. :)

Thank you so much for sharing.

sandrac:

Girasoli, I was thinking that, too -- that this would be fantastic scenery to live in. But I think it could also get pretty isolated.

Annie, I haven't yet tried the lentils, but I think I will very soon. The weather feels hot for soup, but it's often what I crave.

Thanks, menehune!

Vicky, I confess: I did brighten the first photo, with the village. But I was amazed at how colourful the fields were. I've been told that in June there are often fields of red poppies, like enormous carpets. We saw a lot of poppies along the sides of roads, but I guess we just weren't there at quite the right time to see them in the fields.

Kathy, if George Clooney had been hiding in my car, I'd have definitely found him!!! This was the car from his ad, which I enjoyed hugely!

It is beautiful and so green in June. This area is high on my list to visit with the hiking and the gorgeous mountains. Thanks for showing me a bit of what it would be like in June.

Wow! Your photos are crazy beautiful! I think I first read about the Piano Grande several years ago when moderator David went hiking there. His photos were just as inspiring. It's on my list! ;)

Mindy:

I want to be you and drive to Piano Grande in a cute female Fiat!

Wow, a gorgeous area for sure. I'd love to hike there too Marta, let me know when you go and I'll tag along!!

I love reading about your adventures Sandra!!

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)