Plans of Castelluccio, Umbria

The selected area includes the Plans of Castelluccio, a karst-alluvial plateau of the central Apennines (Umbrian-Marche Apennines), located on the Umbrian side of the Sibillini Mountains, at the foot of Mount Carrier (Cima del Redentore). It falls within the territory of the municipalities of Norcia (PG) (near the hamlet of Castelluccio), Castelsantangelo sul Nera (MC) and the Monti Sibillini National Park. Located at about 1,350 m a.s.l., the Plans are three and cover an area of 15 km²: Pian Grande (province of Perugia), Pian Piccolo (province of Perugia) and Pian Perduto (province of Macerata). Currently they are affected by karst phenomena, which have determined the formation of karst structures known by the local inhabitants as Mergani, which constitute deep sinkholes that furrow the main plain and drain the meteoric waters into underground water tables, which also bring water to the Sordo rivers. and Torbidone, on the plain of Santa Scolastica. The Pian Grande, which extends for about 7 km with an average width of 3 km and an altitude ranging from 1300 to 1252 m, is the largest karst plateau in Italy, after the Piana del Fucino and is entirely surrounded by the ridges of the Sibillini Mountains.

The Plans of Castelluccio belong to the Monti Sibillini National Park, established in 1993, that covers an area of approximately 71,437 hectares, on a mainly mountainous terrain, belonging to Apennines, a mountain range running 1,400 km down the length of Italy. The predominant landscape is that of the limestone massif of the Apennine mountains, which in this area acts as a link between the softer forms of the northern Apennines and the highest heights of Abruzzo, also taking on severe and steep features. The highest mountain, as well as the highest peak in the region, is Monte Vettore which with its 2476 m dominates the Plans of Castelluccio. Located between the impervious and vertical walls immediately below the top of Monte Vettore, Lake Pilato is one of the very few glacial lakes of the Alpine type present in the Apennines. The size and flow of water depend on rainfall and the melting of snow, which cover the surface of the water mirror for most of the year until the beginning of summer. Depending on the water level, the lake can appear single, or divided into two basins, hence the nickname "lake with glasses". It hosts a particular endemism, the Marchesoni's chirocephalus: a small red crustacean measuring 9-12 millimeters and swimming with its belly facing upwards. In popular tradition the lake takes its name from the legend according to which the body of Pontius Pilate sentenced to death by Tiberius ended up in its waters. The body, closed in a sack, was entrusted to a cart of buffaloes left free to wander aimlessly and would have fallen into the lake from the sharp crest of the Cima del Redentore. The Plans of Castelluccio offer a unique landscape with the Pian Grande plateau that extends crossed by rivulets of water and streams and characterized in spring by an impetuous multicolored flowering which constitutes a great attraction in the month of June. The Plans of Castelluccio and the surrounding area of Sibillini can offer different types of tourist activities. Food and wine tourism is one of the “musts” for the presence of the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum Vitt.), but also as a crossroads of other ancient gastronomic traditions, the result of the union between the pastoral civilization, the butchery, of which Umbria is the undisputed capital with the famous Norcia ham PGI and other kinds of cured salted meats, and agriculture, which resists with some symbolic productions, such as the lentil of Castelluccio PGI. Also cheeses are produced linked to sheep transhumance such as Pecorino, ricotta (fresh or seasoned) and, to a lesser extent, goat or mixed. The list of local gastronomic excellence continues with ancient varieties of apples, such as the pink apples of the Sibillini, an ancient fruit of which the Roman poet Orazio also wrote, excellent productions of honey, and two ancient legumes, cicerchia (Lathyrus sativus), and roveja (Pisum sativum ssp. Arvense), and fresh water trout. The origins of Castelluccio are not available on books, but the human presence in these places has its roots in an ancient past. This is witnessed by several fragments of pottery of the Roman period found in the area of Soglio, near the ancient Fonte di Canatra. In the first half of the 17th century were found in the basement of a building in the country, the bronze coins with the portrait of Emperor Claudius II Gothicus (268-270 AD). In the same period there was another interesting discovery: a tomb (undated) of a soldier, probably situated not far from the road that leads to Forca di Presta obligatory point of passage between the Valley of Tronto and Valley of Nera. The current settlement does not date back to before the thirteenth century, although some documents, and recently the air-photography has revealed an ancient castle on the mountain above. The tourism of the villages finds a very rich offer consisting of the suggestive historic centers of medieval origin, such as Norcia, the Roman Nursia, where Vespasia Polla, mother of emperor Vespasiano was born. that characterize all the municipalities in the area. However, ancient villages can also be considered the fractions, partly abandoned. The churches, hermitages, parish churches and monasteries, spread in extraordinary quantities throughout the territory, could encourage the third type of tourism, the religious and cultural one. Furthermore, it is possible to practice sports tourism especially in the forms of trekking, equestrian and winter tourism. The entire area is at high risk of seismic activity and between August and October 2016 it was hit by a series of strong earthquakes that largely destroyed the village of Castelluccio and heavily compromised numerous structures in the historic center of Norcia. A recovery plan is underway with futuristic anti-seismic solutions. In the meantime, many tourist accommodation and gastronomic shops have restarted with temporary constructions to accommodate customers.

• Historical villages (old villages, churches, abbeys, etc.) and natural (Natura 2000 sites) heritage • Agritourism and ecotourism • Food and wine tourism (“norcinerie”, all kinds of cured salted meat, old legumes, traditional sheep cheese, etc.) • Hiking and trekking • Biking • Horse riding • Fishing • Canoeing • Paragliding, hand gliding and acrobatic parachuting