Mozzafiato Majesty of il Piano Grande

July 10, 2015 / Events
Piano Grande, Umbria

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…)



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 for more on her Umbria tours. Do see 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.

39 Responses to “Mozzafiato Majesty of il Piano Grande”

  1. J. Kevin Crocker

    HI Anne, We missed this grandeur two years ago because of all the early rain. Thanks for this as now I get to see just how splendid it is. Please keep these coming. – Kevin

  2. Rosemary Johnson

    So beautiful! I especially love the picture of the children running through the fields! It’s been 3 months since I’ve been to Italy and miss it everyday!

  3. Katie Larsh

    Annie, these are just gorgeous! With all the warmer weather we’ve had Mt. Rainier was in full bloom this past week too! Thank you for giving us yet again another reason to return to your beautiful country! Gracie!

  4. How absolutely gorgeous, Anne – I have to experience this spectacle some day … another one of your many inspiring places to add to my list!

    And lentils? flowering ? who knew! I now see them in a whole other light :)

  5. Walter Coppenrath

    As a long time subscriber, I am certain that Anne Robichaud is your most-gifted contributor. She writes beautifully. I can almost always tell within the first several sentences, whether Anne has written the article. My wife and I live in Tuscany and have used Anne’s insightful articles often to plan a day or weekend excursion. FULL DISCLOSURE: I have met Ann several times and we have mutual friends but I assure you that these comments are sincere and unbiased.

  6. Mary Jo Barbato

    This is spectacular and almost doesn’t look real. We are in love with Italy from visits there in the fall of the year – must make plans for a summertime trip next!

  7. Tracey Zabar

    Oh, Annie, I’ll never forget that day. Breathtaking views and the wonderful lunch where they invited us into the kitchen! What memories.

  8. Janet Eidem

    Sure takes MY breath away! I’d love to be there. Maybe another year. Thanks Annie

  9. Nancy Mazza

    Magnifico!!! Grazie. And I agree with Walter Coppenrath, even though I don’t know him.

  10. Claire

    What wonderful pictures –plus you capture the essence of this marvelous celebration–wish I was there!

  11. Anna Retsker

    Terrific! So beautifully written and shown in pictures! Thank you, Annie.

  12. Mary Cappiello

    I agree with the complimentary comment of Walter Coppenrath’s…I took love and can tell that it’s going to be one of Annie’s articles. Her writing is so lyrical and the pictures always illustrate her prose so beautifully. Thank you again, Anne, for making us ALMOST a there with you every time.

  13. Catherine Williams

    OK, Anne. YOU have made me truncate my breath with your article and photos. I will be back for this with you!!

  14. Trisha Lenarz-Garmoe

    Ahh…sigh…Anne, thank you for the mental vacation in this beautiful area!! Fantastic!!!

  15. Louise Montalbanoaaa

    Thanks, Anne for a beautiful article not only in words but in photos , too. Your articles remind us where we have been and need to return to and give us wonderful new places to explore now that we are living in Tuscany and have the ability to do so. Keep the articles coming! I print them out and put in a binder divided by dates for events and areas for new or old places to visit. Thank you again.

  16. Madaline

    Children joyfully running in beautiful fields of flowers. It doesn’t get any better than that! Thank you!

  17. magaretha

    Anne, when is the best time to see these flowers in full bloom?

  18. GREAT pictures and a wonderful article Anne. I particularly liked knowing that the wild turnips produce the vivid yellow. It’s truly is a sight to behold, well captured and breathless to say the least!

  19. Ann Krapf

    Beautiful pictures. They look like paintings, not photographs.

  20. Suzanne and Jack

    When Annie writes I, like Walter Coppenrath, can tell within a couple of sentences that it is one of her wonderfully descriptive, “make it like you are there” articles. This one is no exception. The photographs are beautiful. The children seem to be having such fun as they throw themselves into the flowers. I realise how much I miss Italy. Thank you Anne

  21. Stephanie W

    Truly, moazzafiato! Your pics are always able to stir the imagination of what it must look & feel like there in that other worldly saturation of color! I can picture myself, much like that little girl, lying on my back in the middle of all that gorgeous color, what a spectacular place! Thank you, again for sharing this little gem of a place. Now pass the lentil stew, please….

  22. Joanie P

    You don’t read about restaurants like Mariella’s in the travel books! That lentil soup looks delicious but the love in the preparation of such meals is what counts. No matter how many times you visit Italy, there are still more treasures to be found.

  23. Bridget

    Wow Anne – these photos are fantastic! When we were traveling in Umbria – we loved to spot a town at the top of a hill and drive up and explore. That was my favorite part of our trip!

  24. Amazing! It is almost too much to take…such beauty. The land, the people, the food, the history, the stories. Thank you for sharing the beauty Anne in your articles! What a wonderful gift you share with all of us!

  25. Sheri Roche

    Anne was our tour guide in Umbria a few years ago and she was outstanding. It was an excellent personalized experience.

  26. Cindy Tanner

    Wow!! Breathtaking! Would love to see this beautiful sight. Wonderful photos, as usual.

  27. Anne, Thanks so much for this gorgeous glimpse of another town to add to my TO SEE list. Amazing flowers that I would like to run in and lie in too.

  28. This is amazing Anne! Our group is looking forward to our upcoming visit!

  29. Anne,
    These pictures are beautiful!!! So many more places for me & my family to see! Touring the hills & towns of Umbria with you recently was truly memorable!!! Your knowledge of the area & warm, welcoming spirit made us feel so at home! A trip we’ll never forget!!! Thank you for making our stay so special!
    Reading your future Notes will keep me/us connected to Bella Italia & the happy memories we created with you as we celebrated my dear brother’s 80th Birthday!
    Grazie per tutto!


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