Castelluccio on the Piano Grande: “Fading” Colors?!
Our smiling young waiter Davide told us, “yes, still beautiful but the wildflower colors are fading now….” as we looked out at the expansive flowering Piano Grande (“Great Plain”) below us.
As we do every year, I’d been checking in at Castelluccio (calling an inn there) every week or so since June to ask “la fioritura, a che punto e’?” (“What’s flowering now?”)
Maximum splendor of the flowerings of the Great Plain (nearly 5000 ft) spreading out below tiny medieval mountain village, Castelluccio, always depends on weather conditions. A rainy, chilly May and June meant later floral majesty this year.
This year’s “floral peak” was early July. Heading there a week later with Vivian and Martin and grandson, Brady, we might have missed the flaming yellow rapeseed but the fiery red poppies merging with the blue cornflowers astounded.
We joined other visitors armed with cameras of all sizes and shapes to take our photos of the splendors just below Castelluccio and then headed up to this gem of a walled medieval town for lunch. At Agriturismo Monte Veletta, Davide and his sister Michela dash between kitchen – where Mamma Luigia cooks – and the outdoor veranda overlooking the Great Plain where diners feast on Umbrian goodness and visual splendors.
This mountainous area is home to many a shepherd and the pecorino of a local shepherd was not to miss, nor the homemade tagliatelle with mutton (local, too) sauce: my choice. Martin opted for the arrosticini, or tidbits of grilled local lamb on a spit. Brady chose a Castelluccio specialty, lentil soup with local sausage, made by Davide’s mamma with the tiny IGP lenticchie di Castelluccio raised by papa’ Ottavia, farmer. Ottavio cultivates the roveja beans, too, and his farro stars in the Agriturismo’s zuppa di farro and insalata di farro.
The veranda was full and the indoor dining room, too. Although young Claire from Albania and Kathy (inspite of her name, from nearby) flanked Michela and Davide in serving up the goodness, service was still very slow.
Nessun problema: the kaleidoscopic floral sweep of the Great Plain below made us want to stay all afternoon.
Read – and see!- more on Castelluccio and the flowerings
Click here for a lentil soup recipe
Read about nearby Norcia – famous for sausages, and not only
See la fioritura (“the flowerings”) on Youtube
Read about my times with Vivian and Martin in the U.S
Read about cooking with Vivian
Read about the famous Castelluccio lentils – and how to cook them