Castelluccio’s Chromatic Majesty
When you come down the hill from Norcia and round that curve, you’ll understand what a mozzafiato view is.
Only mozzafiato (literally, “cutting off, truncating your breath”, and more visceral than the English “breathless”) can describe that first site of il Piano Grande, “the high plain” (1452 m) stretching out below Castelluccio.
And now is the time: from late May to early July, the Piano Grande becomes a kaleidoscopic tapestry of wildflowers of every color intermingling with the chromatic variations of the crops cultivated by the few farmers still living in Castelluccio, overlooking the vast plain.
Even though la Festa della Fioritura is celebrated between the third and last Sundays of June, climactic conditions influence the variations of colors and their abundance.According to the prediction of “the locals”, brilliant red poppies will spread out on the plain in a week, followed by the blue of the cornflowers about a week later.
The deep pinks of the lupinella - soon to be harvested for hay – and the intense yellow flowers of wild turnip (rape selvatiche) in the lentil fields highlighted the colorful patchwork of our recent mozzafiato Piano Grande viewing.
Driving along the flank of the great plain up towards Castelluccio, we stopped often to photograph the kaleidoscopic fields, dotted with the oranges, whites, deep purples, and scarlets of myriads of wildflowers, each one adding to the glory. Many a visitor to il Piano Grande talks enthusiastically – and erroneously – about the magnficent colors of the lentils in flower.The famous tiny lenticchie di Castelluccio – harvested in July – are growing in the midst of the floral tapestries but their flowers are white and too small to site.
In any case, no visit to Castelluccio is complete without a bowl of hearty zuppa di lenticchie, accompanied by a robust local red wine. Eating with a view is best.
Stop at Locanda de Senari after a walk through the tiny walled village to feast on a spectacular view of the flowering Piano Grande as you feast on una buonissima zuppa, cooked by Marinella. And you won’t want to miss the grilled lamb in this mountain village – now nearly abandoned – once populated with shepherds, too.
As darkness drew in, we listened to the stories of Oreste, Marinella’s father-in-law, who started working for shepherds seventy-two years ago when he was five.The transumanza - driving of the sheep to fields in lower ground for the winter months – meant that the shepherds were away from their families from November to April.
“Una vita di grande sacrificio,” he told us. He sold his sheep about twenty years ago to raise cattle and stay closer to his family.
The stall has now been transformed into Marinella’s kitchen.
And she rents rooms above, just in case lentils with a mozzafiato view is not enough…….and you are trapped by the beauty.
See la Fioritura on YouTube
Check out the official site of Castelluccio on the Fioritura
Click here to see the photos of the sowing and harvest of the lenticchie di Castelluccio
Read more on on the wonders
Thanks to Marco Francalancia for his splendid photos.
Click here to see more of his photos.
Here are a few photos of our June Castelluccio visit: