Norcia and the earthquakes
The region in eastern Umbria (and western Marche) is very much affected by earthquakes from time to time. The most severe was the one September 27, 1997, which destroyed many parts of villages and towns (you might have heard of the destruction of parts of Chiesa San Francesco in Assisi). Norcia was no exception, but here the municipality has obviously learnt from the damaging much earlier. Since 1859, there is a law which says that buildings must not be built higher than 12,5 m and it seems that Norcia wasn’t affected that bad during the 1997 earthquake. Castellina for example wasn’t hit at all, given its tiny structure.
Hiking unlimited in Monte Sibillini
North of Norcia is Castelluccio and Piano Grande which are at the edge of Monti Sibillini National Park, a most marvellous hiking area. Monte Sibilla is 2175 m and the mountains around here have almost alpine-like character. The name derives from the famous Sibylle (the Roman/Etruscan one) who is said to have her cave here. The website I’ve linked here is fascinating, by the way. But she is not the only one who is a source for legends in this region. At the foot of Monte Vettore is a little lake, called Lago di Pilato, where legend says that Pontius Pilate’s dead body was drowned here.
The park’s website at Sibillini is quite good and gives many interesting side information as well as trails descriptions (and it provides better information about Norcia’s sights than Norcia’s website). Watch the short video they display here, it is really mouthwatering!
During April, hiking is very much limited due to the unpredictable weather. When I was in Piano Grande, it was very foggy, but in summer and autumn it must be paradise. I will certainly come back, but with my proper hiking equipment.
Castelluccio di Norcia
"Castelluccio di Norcia: sports/spectacular nature"
Castelluccio is one of my favourite places on the earth. I know it's hard to say something like this but I must confess I get a strong emotion everytime I go there. It's a plan between Umbria and Marche regions, in the Parco dei Monti Sibillini national reserve. You can go to Castelluccio for thousand of reasons: to ride horses, to drive deltaplans or parapendio, to take thousand of marvellous photos, especially when the lenses' plants make its flower (it depends on the season, normally end of May or beginning of June but it last fews days....then all flowers get ruined), to buy its famous lensed ("DOP" lenses of Castelluccio) and why not, have a nice stay and lunch at one of the few restaurants there, like the TAVERNA CASTELLUCCIO.
"Difficult to live there"
From Spring to Autumn around 100-120 people live in Castelluccio, in winter they become 20-30. The condition are very difficult; it snows very frequently (also on June 1, 2006...I was there with my T-shirt) and the winds are strong and frozen. I was told that a winter in Castelluccio can be compared ONLY with Mongolian winter. I do not know if I have to believe it...anyway it was cold, much colder than in Norcia, only 30 km far from it. Who is living in Castelluccio? Basically people which work with toursits or old people. It's impossibile to grow up a child there after 6 years because there are no schools and the next one is in Norcia.
This is a must. The owner, Franco, will let you love his Taverna beside Castelluccio's scenarios. Reservations in summer are hightly raccomended.
see my restaurant tips.
Moreover, a very nice VTfriend of mine, is going to visit Castelluccio because of my suggestion. She let me know such a great landscape photografer who took amazing pisc in Piano Grande: