Spring is sprung,
The flowers is ris,
I wonders where the little birdies is?
Ah yes, my childhood filtered in through my brain as I watched the saffron flexing in the wind as it scuttled over the ridge, blades of grass bending to its wishes also. It was the harbinger of spring as the temperatures rose and the patches of snow imperceptibly melted and the trickles found the worn ground to begin their journey from the high plains to the sea.
There's something about medieval (or just plain old) bridges that I like. I like to think they have an almost romantic quality about them. The people who have walked across them. What sort of history do they hold from us? The grass growing from the cracks, the flaking concrete yet, above all, the sturdiness of construction that makes it seem they have been there forever.
Fondest memory: Thus it was that my final view of Arquata del Tronto was from a river bank touched by the cool waters of the spring thaw somewhere in Piano Land.
It was only because I was determined to get a contrast to the haunting night scene that I drove a little way along the road and took this picture.
It gives you a good idea of the hilly terrain that was the cause of this castle being built overlooking the via Saltiare, named after the ancient Roman route for those taking their holidays in the salt water.
Fondest memory: The Castello della Rocca stands on a rocky hill, north of the village. As Arquata was a border land, the fortification of the hill and the consequent building of the castle began around the XI-XII centuries.
Queen Giovanna II of Naples chose it as her residence from 1420 till 1435, after her incoronation from Pope Martino V. The legend says that the ghost of the queen still can be seen on the glacis of the castle. Having walked around there alone on a winter's night, stumbling over unlit stairways, no vision would surprise me.
The castle as it is today is the result of repeated interventions made during the whole XV century. It was restored in the twenties and then more recently has undergone new restoration works.
The first to be built on the hill was the hexagonally-shaped tower on the south-eastern corner. It is about 12 metres high.
The tower must have been linked to the town wall which, stretching for 70 metres northside, went to close off the only open side of the hill.
The tower on the north side was built between the XIV and the XVI century: it has a square base and it is 24 m. high. An imposing element of the fortress, it was linked to the hexagonal one by double walls enclosing a large rectangular space. Inside must have been a number of buildings allowing many people to live for many months in the fortress.
During the XV century Arquata and the fortress were at the centre of violent wars between Norcia and the city of Ascoli for the possession of the town, which however, remained tied to Norcia till 1554 when the papal appointment of the Lord of the castle, put an end to every local autonomy.
The last piece built in the fortress is a 10-metres-large round tower on the south-east corner, with a deep escarpment e and protected by a counter-escarpment. This tower, 12 metres high, was internally full of loam to form a terrace on the top where the guns were placed. Today, only the foundations are left.