Spoleto to Casale le CretePosted: March 4, 2011
Before leaving Spoleto, we visited “The Roman House” built in Roman times, anything from 400 BC to 800 AD. Lets just say its a couple of thousand years old.! It was built by someone with style and substance. In the heart of Spoleto, underneath what is now the Town Hall, the remains discovered reveal a beautiful residence. Superb rooms with angled, arched ceilings and tessellated floors, each room with a unique pattern. I would love to close my eyes for just 5 minutes, and live that 5 minutes as a resident of “Casa Roma.”
We finally leave Spoleto behind and spend a couple of days getting to our farm. Following in the footsteps of friends, Jo and Paul, who recommended leaving Spoleto and heading via Norcia to the stunning plain of Castelluccio.
Little did we know that the Truffle Season was to begin in earnest, and that night would see the opening festivities. In Norcia the town was setting up. Every possible spot housed a major display of local products of meats and salamis, as well as the Truffle. Norica itself is yet another spectacular Medieval walled city, and is the main town for the region, but as the festival meant a lot of people, and it was still early in the day, we decided to continue on our travels, heading on our round trip, out of Umbria, across the Sibillini Mountains, via Marche to Abruzzo.
The highlight of this drive, we knew, was going to be an encounter with The Piano Grande and we were not disappointed. Driving and rising for many kilometers, we knew, at any twist of the road to expect a spectacular plain, with a distant view of a little city on a hill, Castelluccio. We were not disappointed. The arrival was breathtaking. All the more as the vast plain and mountains surrounding it, were sprinkled with a light cover of snow.
We drove slowly, absorbing its beauty and filed slowly up the hill into Castulluccio. As it was a winters day, hardly a footstep could be raised. We decided to keep on driving, took a left turn and gradually continued the journey via Marche.
The lonely planet says the region of Marche is “31% undulating hills and 69% mountains. And they are not kidding. The drive was slow, and mountainous. Even Tony was surprised by the countryside of this area. Cubby would climb and climb, only to descend into a wide, flat, plain, repeated time after time. Within the hills and plains, village after village. At first it’s a novelty to see a village carved out of the hills. Soon the novelty wears off and our gasps and comments stopped. Each village, quiet and seemingly empty, colored grey and brown, reflecting the colors of the harsh landscape surrounding it. We marveled at how the local economy can be supporting so many towns. Built largely by the commercialism of the wool entrepreneurs who developed throughways for shepherds to care for sheep and get them to market, and on the lives of the peasants and artisans whose way of life often clashed with the “wool industry”, these towns no longer seem viable in today’s way of life and many may not survive………….. perhaps they can be joined together to make one strong, healthy town every 100 km, instead of one small struggling town every 10 km.