Alright, those of you following my posts on Facebook and some of my stories here may get enough of it, but Monti Sibillini National Park does have a special place in my photographic heart. It is hard to explain, as surely there are landscapes as or even more attractive, but still, the area around Piano Grande does have a little touch of Magic.
It is like entering a slightly different world. Almost symbolically, when one drives from Spoleto to Norcia on the S685, you have to go through a rather long tunnel and when you emerge, you will immediately notice the different microclimate. It seems like clouds (and especially in the morning’s mist) stay captured between the hills. I have always known the area to be cloudy, even on the brightest days.
I longed to head straight to the Piano Grande but we decided for a small stop in Norcia. Not a bad idea either. This charming village is the place to be for all things pig: salami, porchetta, prosciutto, and even wild boar. This is why a butcher in Norcia is not just a butcher, but his business is called a norcineria, and this word now is being used throughout Italy for places selling fine (pig) meat products. Other local products include lentils, cheese, chocolate, faro, mushrooms and the famous black truffles (love them!).
Obviously we had to do some shopping so that, once back home, I could still enjoy some truffle pasta. We decided to skip the museums, churches, and further gastronomic delights and finally headed into the National Park.
First stop was the little side road where in 2010 I had the first view on the plains near the Piano Grande, with the hamlet of Castellucio (lentil centre of the universe) in the background. That sight was on the first of a series of very misty mornings – until today I have still not made the image I pre-visualized I wanted to make. It will not happen this trip either, but even now, during daytime, it was a great place to linger for a while. Plenty of space too on this little side road. Only about 150 back, on the “main road”, cars and mobile homes were queuing up to get a glimpse as well – obviously with as little walking as possible, let alone leaving the car….
In the distance, nearer to the village, we could clearly see the colors on the plain of all the wildflowers – would I finally be able to make my poppy-picture? I would! We spent the whole afternoon in the area, and I could have stayed for days.
Somehow I cannot get enough of this area. One dream is to produce a series of images throughout the seasons. Admittedly I was a bit jealous when missing the David Noton May workshop this year and finding out they’d had snow!
We had lunch in Castelluccio, and then again some wandering around and some photography. Sonia was very patient with me. I must come back, but staying in the area again so I can do that early morning shoot and make the image I have in my mind.
There would be mist in the valley, surrounding the distant lights of Castelluccio, and on my left side, there would be a hint of sunlight. It starts to paint the mist red in the East. I am in position. I can have the remote in my hand, mirror locked up, and then the shutter breaks the silence. The histogram is perfect. The image is just what I had in my minds eye….
Oh well, next year perhaps?
Where to stay at Monti Sibillini National Park
We’re a big fan of Agriturismo and Camping Il Collaccio, perched upon a hill in the small town of Preci, right at the edge of the park.
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