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Mention Umbria and most people think of hilltop villages, pristine landscapes and traditional Italian food. This is an accurate description. But, there are some places that take it to the next level. Castelluccio di Norcia is one of those places.
Village of Castelluccio di Norcia
Castelluccio di Norcia is a village dating back to the thirteenth century that sits at an altitude of 1450 meters in the Sibillini Mountains. Sadly, earthquakes in 2016 shook central Italy and destroyed much of the village. Subsequently, there were catastrophic consequences for both the inhabitants and tourists.
Slowly the village is being rebuilt and it is now once again receiving visitors. Between late June and mid-July, the area is especially popular. This is when it transforms into the picturesque and magical scene called “Flowering of Castelluccio”.
The Flowering of Castelluccio
The large plateau is composed mostly of lentil fields. As they grow, the small and fragile lentil plants get help from other local plants. Together they create perfect growing conditions.
These plants bloom and transform the land surrounding the village into a spectacular and colorful feast for the eyes. Fields become covered in flowers of white, yellow, orange, red, blue and purple. As a result, the scene is reminiscent of some of the finest paintings ever created.
This event attracts thousands of tourists from all around the country each year. Most importantly, it is the main source of income for the people that work and live there.
The legume is known as the gold of Umbria. This is especially impressive considering the region is one of the main producers of truffles in Italy. Furthermore, it is the main reason the people of Castelluccio have continued to attract tourists.
Lentils aren’t the only typical product from Castelluccio di Norcia. The area also produces an array of legumes that are unique to the conditions of the plateau. Other crops include the chickling pea, the roveja, also known as “wild pea and spelt.
How to View the Bloom
During peak season the area is flooded with people coming to witness the brilliant blooming. However, this influx does cause some inconveniences.
For example, at times it can be impossible to park a vehicle forcing many to attempt to enjoy Castelluccio from the car. Unfortunately, this is not a good way to view the beauty of the bloom as the best viewing spots are not along the main road.
There are a few trails that go around the bigger fields and some that go up one of the hills next to the village. It’s from there that you can really grasp how grand the scenery is. However, once you see the plateau for the first time it becomes clear there is much more to Castelluccio, Italy than blooming lentils.
Hiking in Castelluccio
The area of the Sibillini Mountains is a National Park that contains some amazing treks for all levels of hiker. However, many trails have been closed due to the earthquake. For this reason, it’s wise to double-check before venturing off into the mountains.
Mount Vettore is the mountain right in front of the village of Castelluccio. It is the highest peak of the region with an altitude of 2479 meters. It’s a beautiful spot with a hiking trail that shouldn’t be missed.
The trail permits visitors to discover many interesting aspects of the territory including caves and gorges along the way. At the top, the view is unmatched. On a clear day, it’s easy to see the Adriatic coast and the highest peak in central Italy, the Gran Sasso.
The Pilato Lake, at an altitude of 1941 meters, offers an alternative to hiking to the top of Mount Vettore. It is also the subject of an interesting legend.
The story claims that the body of Pontius Pilate was left there by a cart of buffalos after the Roman emperor, Tiberius, sentenced him to death. During medieval times it was even prohibited to go to the lake.
Another interesting fact about Pilato lake is that it is host to a unique species on the planet: Marchesoni’s chirocephalus. It’s a red crustacean that measures 9 to 12 millimeters and it’s considered a prehistoric animal. This is why it’s prohibited to swim or even touch the water of the lake.
Castelluccio is a perfect area for paragliding and hang gliding. This is thanks to its gentle slopes and its many points for taking off and landing.
The outer part of the village hosts a national flying school that was built after the 2016 disaster. Here in the project known as “Deltaplano”, visitors can enjoy multiple exciting activities, 8 restaurants and a bar.
The Community of Castelluccio
At this time, the most significant activity in Castelluccio may be visiting the local restaurants and businesses. Many offer authentic experiences and allow visitors to enjoy the atmosphere, flavors and traditions of Castelluccio.
One of the best ways to finish a long day of activities is by enjoying some local specialties and talking with the local owners. During my stay, I had the pleasure of doing just that. Not surprisingly the owners mentioned desperately wanting Castelluccia to be flooded with people once again.
The Covid pandemic hit while the village was still recovering from the earthquake damage. They are currently seeing less than half of the tourists that would show up in normal conditions.
Understandably, it has demoralized them and put them at risk of having to close their business. The truth is that for many in the community, tourism is the only way to make money.
The community of Castelluccio di Norcia is still trying to recover from the damage they have had to endure and welcoming visitors to this beautiful region is how they are doing it.
Book This Trip
Ready to enjoy the lush hillside of Castelluccio di Norcia? Start planning your trip with insider tips on the best sights, hotel and VRBO accommodations, local restaurant recommendations and more through TripAdvisor and Travelocity.
- https://www.castellucciodinorcia.it/ – Official website
- https://www.sibilliniweb.it/citta/norcia-castelluccio-il-suo-altopiano-e-la-fioritura/ – Website of the Sibillini Mountains
Author’s Bio: I am Luca Abbate, a travel photographer and writer from Italy. I started my business a couple of years ago and have abruptly been slowed down by the pandemic. Fortunately, I was still able to travel to some destinations and one of those was Umbria. I was left speechless, especially in Castelluccio di Norcia. My goal is to represent in the most real and best way I can, through words and photographs, the places I travel to in every aspect. I have a website at www.lucaonadventure.com where I share my travel photos and articles.