Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Piano Grande

It's all about the view.
In the middle of Italy, in the middle of Umbria, there's a great wide plain that takes your breath away when you see it. Italians drive their caravans and park in the middle of it, break out the deck chairs, lie in them, and absorb it all.

Stop at the viewpoint.
The Piano Grande in all it's wide glory.
Castelluccio perched in the middle distance.
Catching the thermals.
Lentil fields. And some hay.
The Piano Grande of Castelluccio also supports more than languorous Italian tourists. It's an agricultural plain, surprisingly dead flat amongst the Sibillini Mountains, and is surprisingly high, at 1270 m ASL. The residents of the hilltop town of Castellucchio grow beans. Yep, many many beans, like those in 'Jack & The Beanstalk', and you can buy them from little old ladies sitting in their doorways in the village. I'm told that in early spring the whole plain is a riot of colour, wildflowers and, presumably, beanstalks, filling the valley with brightness. Who knew that lentils could be so very colourful? In late summer, it's an impressive swathe of pale greens and browns. Hang-gliders love it - the thermals must be good. This was confirmed by the sight of flocks of birds gliding giddily over the town.

Buy some beans?
Birds on the wing, above Castelluccio.

In Castellucchio, the narrow streets, ancient church (possibly once Jewish, judging by it's cross-shape), the plaque thanking Il Duce for his support, are all very fascinating. But that view across the plain trumps everything.

In the winter, apparently, this village of several hundred inhabitants shrinks to a mere dozen. It's the highest inhabited village in the Apennines, at 1425 m ASL. Castelluccio, perched on its hill, becomes snow-bound and more or less uninhabitable. Unless you are fine with being sustained on beans all winter.

Tiny streets on tiny Castelluccio.
Try some beans? Bean (and sausage) bruschetta.
Bean soup? Enjoy. 

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