Only mozzafiato (literally, “cutting off, truncating your breath”; more visceral than the English, “breathless”) can describe your first site of the flowering of il Piano Grande, “the high plain” (1452 m) stretching out below Castelluccio, minuscule mountain village near Norcia.
And now is the time: the Piano Grande is a kaleidoscopic tapestry of wildflowers of every color intermingling with the chromatic variations of the crops cultivated by the few farmers still living in Castelluccio, perched over the vast plain.
Although la Festa della Fioritura is celebrated between the third and last Sundays of June, the variations of colors and their abundance are determined by climactic conditions – and our friends at Castelluccio’s Locanda de’ Senari told me yesterday “e’ ora”: now’s the time to view in awe expanses of brilliant red poppies bordering blue fields of the cornflowers.
The deep pinks of the lupinella – harvested for hay – and the saffron yellow flowers of rape selvatiche (wild turnips) in the lentil fields have already drawn many to the Great Plain for mozzafiato viewing… and now comes the spectacular gran finale.
Driving along the flank of the great plain up towards Castelluccio, awestruck visitors stop to photograph the kaleidoscopic fields, dotted with the oranges, whites, deep purples, and scarlets of myriads of wildflowers, each one adding to the glory. Children run from parked cars to spread out on the perfumed flowering carpets. Some visitors to il Piano Grande talk enthusiastically – and erroneously – about the magnificent colors of the lentils in flower but the famous tiny lenticchie di Castelluccio – harvested later in July – bear small white flowers, too small to note.
Lentil harvest later in the month, mozzafiato wild flower profusion now. Il Piano Grande ti aspetta.
(Second part of Anne’s note, about lentils – and eating the lentils! – coming soon…)