The “Fading” (?!) Colors of Castelluccio

July 20, 2016 / Events
Castelluccio, Umbria

As he served us his mother’s Umbrian goodness on the terrace overlooking Castelluccio’s flowering Piano Grande (“Great Plain” – about 5000 ft), smiling young waiter Davide told us, “yes, still beautiful but the colors are fading now…” As we do every year, I’d been checking in at Castelluccio (calling an inn there) every week or so since June to ask “la fioritura, a che punto e’?” (What’s flowering now?)

The maximum splendor of the flowerings of the Great Plain fanning out below Castelluccio always depends on weather conditions. A rainy, chilly May and June meant later floral majesty this year.

PIANO GRANDE

Seems the “peak” was early July. We may have missed by a week the flaming yellows of the rapeseed but the blues of the wild cornflowers bordering the fiery red poppy blankets in mid-July were a feast for the eyes.

PIANO GRANDE majesty

We joined other visitors armed with cameras of all sizes and shapes to take our photos of the splendors just below Castelluccio and then headed up to this gem of a walled medieval town for lunch. At Agriturismo Monte Veletta, Davide and his sister Michela dash between kitchen – where Mamma Luigia cooks – and the outdoor veranda overlooking the Great Plain where diners feast on Umbrian goodness and visual splendors.

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This mountainous area is home to many a shepherd and the pecorino of a local shepherd was not to miss, nor the homemade tagliatelle with mutton sauce, also local. Pino’s favorite dish from the area? Arrosticini, or tidbits of grilled local lamb on a spit.

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And how not try the lentil soup with sausage, made by Davide’s mamma with the tiny IGP lenticchie di Castelluccio raised by papa’ Ottavio, farmer? Ottavio cultivates the roveja beans, too, and his farro stars in the Agriturismo’s zuppa di farro and insalata di farro. (You can buy their lentils – I did – and beans, farro to take home).

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The veranda was full and the indoor dining room, too – and young Claire from Albania and Kathy (despite her name, from nearby) flanked Michela and Davide in serving up the goodness. But service was still very slow.

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Nessun problema: the flowering sweep of the Great Plain below made us want to stay all afternoon.

(Here’s another note on Castelluccio – and more photos of another year of flowerings)

(Are you in Italy now? Do you wish to know if the flowerings are still on show? Call the Agriturismo Monte Veletta: 3476967749, or +39.348.5245231, or +39.0743.821139)

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Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

19 Responses to “The “Fading” (?!) Colors of Castelluccio”

  1. Silvana Franz

    Il prossimo anno vengo con te a vedere la fioritura.Intanto possiamo andare a gustare le famose lenticchie. Aspetto con ansia il tuo prossimo pezzo.Silvana

    Reply
  2. Ginny Siggia

    About a month ago I noticed a profusion of lovely white flowers with red/pink “stains” inside the petals, and an intricate crown. Hadn’t a clue what it was until someone suggested the poppy family. Bingo. I hadn’t known they came in any color but red. I have the most amazing profusion of wildflowers in my new home (southern NH, USA). I remember the brilliant yellow expanses of rapeseed in England. And hedges of lavender and rosemary. Hedges, not the few stalks in my backyard that I protect from the rodents and bears. Today the enchantment increased with the presence of a hummingbird. I’d thought it was a very large June bug — extremely fast and noisy — but today it hovered for a precious second (too short to grab the camera) and I could see its beautiful little body. Masses of flowers and colorful birds. Life is good.

    Reply
  3. Absolutely beautiful to behold, like any artists palette. I think I could do well in Italy, read the menu with no problem. My father used to pick the dandelions at work, always had a basket and knife in his car. People don’t know how delicious the greens are, fried with olive oil, garlic and crusty bread.

    Reply
  4. Vicky Craig

    Thank you, Anne, for another enticing post. You keep me planning and dreaming about the next trip to beautiful Italy!

    Reply
  5. Mary Cappiello

    Annie—
    How beautiful! And I thought it was wonderful already when in Umbria with you in May! The colors in nature can never truly be duplicated in any other medium! Thanks for another great scene of your special place in the world,

    Reply
  6. Beautiful photos, Anne. Looking forward to another trip to Umbria!

    Reply
  7. marianna raccuglia

    I so look forward to your wonderful articles-so descriptive, so interesting and yes, educational (For me). Your photos are beautiful. You are truly “gifted”.
    Thanks so much, Anne xx

    Reply
  8. Louise Black

    So beautiful! And the food sounds absolutely divine. I love REAL food!

    Reply
  9. Suzanne and Jack

    Thank you Anne. Beautiful photographs of the flowering plains, your description of the food is spectacular and, as always, such descriptive and informative narrative.

    Reply
  10. Frank and Brit

    Annie,
    Reading your articles always makes us hungry.
    Frank and Brit

    Reply
  11. carol weed lundin

    May I tag along with you and Silvana next year and eat the delicious Castelluccio lentils (which I love) and enjoy the gorgeous wild flowers? You made me so hungry, along with Frank and Brit, that I’m not so sure if I can wait that long!

    Reply
  12. I love anne’s articles. They make for a fun read and the photos as usual are wonderful. thanks so much for your contribution to this lovely newsletter which
    I send to all of my house guests at casaspello.com Keep it up, Gina Waldman, spello umbria

    Reply
  13. Tim Curtin

    Anne
    All I can say is that I wish Colleen and I would have been there.

    Reply
  14. Katie Larsh

    Another beautiful enticement to get us to Italy! Love the colors and all the food feast for the eyes!

    Reply
  15. Rosemary Johnson

    Love the reds and blues! I always seem to read your posts around lunch time and get so hungry when I see the delicious food you include from the area! Just got back from a wedding in the Pacific Northwest. Will have to let you know how the grade school girls’ reunion goes on August 12th. Have a wonderful rest of the summer! It’s been really hot here in Chicago…hi to the family!!

    Reply
  16. Lois Levine

    Your photos and your words make me long for another trip to Italy

    Reply

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