Norcia

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Norcia-landscape

Norcia was founded by the Sabini behind the Sibillini mountains and already in the II century B.C. became a growing Roman municipium. The town of Norcia, surrounded by still intact walls of the 1300s, is rich of historical-artistic evidence and, in addition to its beauty and to nature trails, offers a rich, genuine cuisine and typical products.

Norcia is a gastronomic paradise, rich and refined. Lentils from Castelluccio, spelt, valuable black truffle (tuber melanosporum), the real king of Norcia’s traditional recipes, all kinds of cheese, such as pecorino cheese and caciotta , but, above all, “norcineria”, the noble and ancient art of working pork meat that dates back to the 1200s and has made Norcia famous all over the world. The smell of salumi, of prosciutti of Norcia and of other typical products will surround you along the town streets.

Behind the town walls you can find the “Marcite”, large areas where the water, collected and distributed through channels invented by the Benedictine monks in 400-500 A.D., floods constantly under control for long periods thus permitting rich hay harvesting. From a geographical and nature viewpoint, Norcia is situated south-east in Umbria, where two different, but adjacent landscapes joint: Valnerina, that is the valley eroded by the river Nera and its feeders, and the Sibillini Mountains, heart of the Monti Sibillini National Park. In this mountain area peaks can reach a height of over 2000 m. and inside you can find vast plateaux: among these stands out the fascinating Pian Grande (15 sq km. approx.), and the minor plateaux of Pian Piccolo, Pian Perduto, Quarto San Lorenzo and Pian dei Pantani. In the late spring (second half of June) the plateau is theatre to a particular natural phenomenon called “Fioritura” (“Flourishing”) due to the simultaneous flourishing of tens of different flower species that create a multicolour carpet throughout the whole valley.

The Piano Grande of Castelluccio is also well known also for its lentils and some rare species of orchids. Rare, but present, is the royal eagle, while the peregrine falcon, the red woodpecker and the wallcreeper are relatively more frequent to observe. In the Castelluccio plateau stands out Mount Vettore whose snow feeds Lago di Pilato, a small lake on the top of the mountain of variable water level where an endemic crustacean specie lives: the Chirocephalus of Marchesoni.

Norcia was the birthplace of Saint Benedict, patron saint of Europe and patriarch of western monasticism. His Rule, that summarizes the eastern monastic tradition adapting it wisely and discretely to the Roman world, opens a new way to the European civilization after the Roman decline. Following Saint Benedict many preaching and culture centres aimed at promoting the human aspects and hospitality for the poor and the pilgrims arose throughout the whole Europe and in the islands. Two centuries after his death the monasteries based on his Rule were more than one thousand. Pope Paul VI proclaimed him patron saint of Europe (October 24, 1964).