This week we decided to go with friends on a long drive to south eastern Umbria to a place I’ve wanted to visit since we’ve been here, Piano Grande (big plain) and Castelluccio, the small town on the high plain. This is a unique landscape. The plain is at an altitude of 4,000 feet and is surrounded by the higher Sibilline mountains which rise to 8,000 feet creating a bowl. The plain is a karstic basin which is made up of porous limestone which holds underground reserves of water. It is crisscrossed by “ditches” which drain the rain water into holes in the limestone. In summer it is carpeted with purple, red and yellow flowers. The regions famous lentils are grown here. Castelluccio is the only town up in these mountains and sits on a hilltop overlooking the plain. Unfortunately the town was 60% destroyed by the 2016 earthquakes and has been abandoned. The sweet thing is that all the farmers from down below drive their tractors up in the spring and they help all the villagers plant the lentils each year. It is the lentils that bloom purple.
We drove up a winding mountain road that was being repaired. It had been closed for 8 months after the quake but it is far from finished at this time. Along the way we passed destroyed buildings. As we rose higher we entered the low clouds and it began to rain. Due to the rain we couldn’t see the plain well so my pictures are very misty. I will go back during June or July when the flowers are blooming and it’s sunny. Somehow this somber, misty landscape evokes sadness in keeping with the destruction you see everywhere.
We headed back down the same road. The road used to go through but it is closed at this time. We were going to visit Norcia for lunch. Luther and I had not been in a few years. It had been a vibrant little city famous for its cured proscuitti and sausages. But, being only 6 kilometers from the epicenter of the last quake (6.6) it is in very bad shape now, with most of the businesses being relocated outside of town. I was so sad to see the beautiful buildings covered with elaborate scaffolding awaiting repair. The saddest, to me, is the monastery. The front facade is all that is standing and that is being held up with the structures built around it.
This picture was taken in 2014 on our first trip to Norcia. This is the front and side of the building with the old tower to the right..
This is the same piazza. You can see the old tower has collapsed, as has the entire back of the church.
Facade facing out with supports.
This the front facade from the back. This side would have been inside the church and this rose window would have faced out. Nothing left.
This is the bell tower that stands to the left of the facade in the top picture. If you look closely you can see the entire top portion has been knocked askew and it is held together with bands of cabling.
Wanting to support the town we ate at a restaurant near the Teatro. It was a fine lunch.
The antipasto plate which we all shared.
My Strengozzi with vedure di montagne.
We shared our ham and sausage with this little, skinny stray. Another table was doing the same. I don’t know how she held it all down. I can imagine she’s never been this satiated in her life!
A couple comfortably enjoying a caffe on a bench in the piazza
Hi Carol. Yes it was poignant. But I guess the area has always had quakes. I’m hoping the rebuilding continues quickly and the town of Norcia will be back soon. I’m not so sure about Castelluccio.
Thank you for sharing this! Hearbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. Carol