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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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)