Castelluccio di Norcia – Living an Italian Painting

There are places worth visiting just for their simple beauty and the unforgiving charm they are able to act upon us. Places which are often not that far from home.

I am Italian. My roots are in Marche but I live in Emilia. I the last years I visited several times Castelluccio di Norcia, the cliff village facing its renown plain. A charming place in any season.

This huge plain surrounded by the Sibillini Mountains is chipped amid meadows, fountains, vegetation and animals, with the village of Castelluccio towering over it from its peak. The place has become quite popular for its local products – as the widely renown lentils – but about ten years ago it suffered from a devastating earthquake which changed these fascinating yet remote sites into a ghost town where people were afraid of living in it, while losing day by day possessions and hope.

I went back to Castelluccio two years ago because I wanted to show it to a friend from Reggio Emilia. On my previous visit the devastation caused by the earthquake was still clearly visible and the whole place seemed abandoned. Few had the strength and the means to live here.

Among the many things that make the plain of Castelluccio a special place is the blossoming of the lentil fields, a wonderful moment that in the good days used to attract visitors and photographers from Italy and beyond. Hopefully those good days are coming back, since the blossoming is yet again acting its charm upon countless foreign and Italian tourists.

The Blossiming of Castelluccio di Norcia - Umbria, Italy

The blossoming usually takes place in June. Arriving from Fermo you need to cross the highway stretching along Ascoli Piceno, continuing past the mountain vilagges like Acquasanta Terme – but not without taking a look and their characteristic stone houses – and ending on the comfortable mountain paths surrounded by a shifting landscape: cultivated fields, sunflowers and the Apennines wild nature.

Bright green, blue sky and a magnificent sun would be my companions on every journey. After the refreshing fountains, the cattle and the sheep, my eyes would finally grasp the stunning marvel lying in front of me.

The mountains step back, allowing the valley to open up, and embrace the wide plain of Castelluccio, whose village patiently overlooks from above. The land, usually green and accurately cultivated, is covered with coloured spots which spread with symmetric balance and harmony.

The Blossiming of Castelluccio di Norcia - Umbria, Italy

Green, yellow, red, white, violet… the flowers spontaneously arrived to cover this huge cultivated carpet. The eyes wanders in a line of impossible colours and it’s just unbelievable that such a range of shades are but the result of tiny little flowers arrived to emphasize the beauty of an already stunning place. A marvellous exhibition one can enjoy through several stops in order to arrive to the very bottom of the plain.

The Blossiming of Castelluccio di Norcia - Umbria, Italy

One of the best spots to enjoy the blossoming is a the bottom of the village, almost at the end of this colourful trip, when at your right you will spot a thick series of colours and a bright green lonely tree.

The Blossiming of Castelluccio di Norcia - Umbria, Italy

Behind are the mountains. In the tight path the people move back from their intense walk amidst the colours. The wind blows. And a board reminds not to cross the field: they are still cultivating the lenses, after all.

In this astonishing chromatic richness I lose myself in the blossoming’s colours, I gaze and the small shadows of the people moving far away around me. I try to retain what this place is offering me. Because Castelluccio and its flowers are a gift, and I am silently thankful.

The Blossiming of Castelluccio di Norcia - Umbria, Italy

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