When you mention Umbria, most people immediately think of hilltop villages and pristine landscapes. This description is accurate. There are places that go beyond this description. Castelluccio di Norcia, is one such place.
Village of Castelluccio di Norcia
Castelluccio di Norcia, a medieval village that is situated at 1450m in the Sibillini Mountains, dates back to the 13th century. Unfortunately, the village was destroyed by earthquakes that struck central Italy in 2016. The earthquakes had devastating consequences for both tourists and residents.
Slowly, the village is being rebuilt. It is now receiving visitors again. The area is particularly popular between late June and mid July. It transforms into the magical and picturesque “Flowering of Castelluccio”.
The Flowering of Castelluccio
This large plateau is mostly made up of lentil fields. The fragile and small lentil plants become more resilient as they grow. They create ideal growing conditions together.
These plants produce stunning and vibrant colors that transform the surrounding area into a colorful spectacle for the eyes. The fields become covered with flowers in a variety of colors, including white, yellow and orange as well as red, blue, green, and purple. The scene reminds me of some of the most beautiful paintings ever made.
Each year, thousands of tourists travel to this event from all over the country. It is, above all, the main source for income for those who live and work there.
The Umbrian gold is the legume. This is remarkable considering that the region is the largest producer of truffles from Italy. It is also the reason Castelluccio has continued to attract tourists.
Castelluccio di Norcia isn’t just known for its lentils. There are many legumes grown in this area that are specific to the terrain. The chickling pea, or roveja, is another crop. It’s also known as wild pea or spelt.
How to See the Bloom
The area is often flooded during peak seasons with people who want to see the beautiful blooming. This influx can cause inconveniences.
Sometimes, it is difficult to park a car so many people try to enjoy Castelluccio by driving. This is not the best way to see the beauty of the blooms, as the best spots for viewing are not on the main road.
A few trails go around the larger fields, while others go up the hill next to the village. From there, you can truly appreciate the beauty of the landscape. It becomes obvious that Castelluccio, Italy is more than just a place to grow lentils.
Hiking in Castelluccio
The Sibillini Mountains are a National Park with amazing hikes for all levels. Many trails were closed by the earthquake. It is a good idea to check before you venture into the mountains.
The mountain of Mount Vettore lies just in front of Castelluccio. It stands at 2479m high and is the highest peak in the region. This spot is beautiful and has a great hiking trail.
This trail allows visitors to explore many fascinating aspects of the territory, including caves or gorges. The view from the summit is spectacular. It’s possible to see the Adriatic coast on clear days and the Gran Sasso, the highest peak in central Italy.
Pilato Lake is located at an elevation of 41 meters and offers an alternative to hiking up Mount Vettore. The legend surrounding it is interesting.
According to the legend, Pontius Pilate’s body was taken from Rome by Tiberius and left there by a cart full of buffaloes. It was prohibited from going to the lake during medieval times.
Another interesting fact about Pilato is that it hosts a rare species of planet Earth: Marchesoni’s chirocephalus. It is a red crustacean measuring 9-12 millimeters in length and is considered to be a prehistoric creature. It is forbidden to swim in the lake or touch it.
Castelluccio is the perfect spot for paragliding and hang-gliding . Its gentle slopes and many points for landing and taking off are the reason.
A national flying school was established in the village’s outer area following the 2016 disaster. Visitors can find 8 restaurants, a bar and many other exciting activities in this project called “Deltaplano”.
The Community of Castelluccio
The best activity in Castelluccio at this time is to visit the local restaurants and shops. They offer authentic experiences that allow you to experience Castelluccio’s flavors, traditions, and atmosphere.
Enjoying local food and talking to the owners is a great way to end a long day. I had the privilege of doing this during my stay. It was no surprise that the owners wanted Castelluccia to once again be overflowing with people.
While the village was still recovering after the earthquake damage, the Covid pandemic struck. They currently see less than half the tourists who would normally show up in normal circumstances.
It has, understandably, demoralized them and put their businesses at risk of being closed. Tourism is the only way for many people to make a living.
Castelluccio di Norcia continues to work to heal from the trauma they have suffered and welcomes visitors to their beautiful region.