La Fiorita, known as the flowering of Castelluccio di Norcia occurs every year from the end of June to mid-July which turns this plain high up on the mountain into a magical and colorful field of wildflowers. I found out about this place when I was searching “the most beautiful flower fields”. However, the perfectly located village, Castelluccio di Norcia, surrounded by the flowering fields was destroyed during the earthquake in 2016 🙁
When I saw flights to Rome on sale for $450 roundtrip during the summer months and with the full-service carrier – Iberia, free seat selections and a checked bag, I booked immediately and then plan. Remember, I have 24 hours to cancel for free if the itinerary doesn’t work out. I booked back in August 2018 for travel in July 2019, almost a year in advance, call me a travel addict 😛 Even crazier, I planned after Italy, we’ll go to Namibia and then a stopover in Seychelles for only 60,000 United miles roundtrip!
Fast-forwarding to early 2019…..we found out that we are expecting our first child!!! OMG life-changing 🙂 Namibia and Seychelles have to put on hold! Luckily, we booked with points so the cancellation fee was only the $75 mile redeposit fee per person. With the trip in less than 3 months away and I have to replan the 2.5 weeks itinerary while battling with morning sickness, it was hard! Because this is my first pregnancy, I do not know what to expect so I want to make this trip easy and relaxing as possible. We decided to do a road trip around Italy and possibly France.
Our road trip first stop was the town Norcia, 40 minutes from the flowering at Castelluccio di Norcia as the village was destroyed so not an option to stay at the village. The drive from Rome FCO Airport to Norcia was 2.5 hours, we got there at around 3:30 pm, checked in at the hotel: Palazzo Seneca, a Relais & Chateaux hotel, dropped off our luggage, and drove to
Castelluccio di Norcia. The mountain road of SP477 was not as windy as I thought but definitely looping on the edge of the mountain to get up to the top of the mountain and through it to the flowering fields.
Well….we were there a little bit too early. Or I should say the flowering this year was a little bit late due to the rainfall pattern. Look the fields below were still very green 🙁 Weeks prior to the trip, I checked this website at a daily basis to get an update on the flowering status but it hasn’t been updated since July 3rd; we got there on July 4th.
It looked like some of the grass fields have been harvested.
When approaching Castelluccio di Norcia, we finally see some colors! We pulled into a small parking lot and then walked to the flower fields. This section was filled with blooming poppies and purple flowers. Look at the trees on that hill, did they purposely planted those trees or trimmed them to look like the map of Italy???
We were very cautious not to step on the flowers to take the photos in the field. By the way, we waited like half an hour for the clouds to move out of the sun; it made a big difference in the colors! As we were waiting, there was a group of students arrived and they scattered in the fields to take selfies. By the time the clouds moved out, they were gone phew! Then, we had this huge field all to ourselves 😀
The village of Castelluccio di Norcia in the background…..on top of that small hill.
See the village on top of the hill now? Too bad the field nearest to the village was corn? instead of flowers.
The roll of grass was very heavy that Jason couldn’t even move it!
A look back of the flowering fields…
We walked further to the fields near the rolling hills and here had more purple flowers than poppies. A photographer with a huge zoom lens was there taking photos.
A higher concentration of purple flowers here.
We spent a good hour there and then walked back to our car to drive to the village. From the road up to the village offered a great view of the flowering fields below. Only some fields starting turning colors…we were too early. Sigh, you know me by now that we hardly have luck when it comes to flowering fields that all depended upon Mother Nature!
When we reached the village, it was so sad to see that 3 years after the earthquake, the village is still struggling to rebuild.
Only cafes and restaurants along the sides of the road are opened for tourists. The rest of the village is closed.
We turned back and decided to head back to Norcia since not many flowering fields and it was getting late in the day.
Another crippled building…
Once we got back to Norcia, fortunately, there was a parking spot right in front of the hotel and then we walked out to the center (only a few steps away) for dinner. Norcia was also impacted by the earthquake and they are still in the process of rebuilding the town.
I have bookmarked a few high rating restaurants on the TripAdvisor App and guess what, we went to two and both are closed permanently due to the earthquake’s damage!!! TripAdvisor wasn’t up to date on that grrrr so we wasted time walking around. We ended up going to Granaro Del Monte Restaurant located right outside the town’s gate.
Jason ordered the “menu del cavatore”, a 4-course meal for €38 while I got the 3-course “menu del granaro” for €20. Jason’s first course was the 20 months’ aged PGI Norcia’s ham. Norcia is famous for its pig so of course, the ham is also famous.
Hum…we are not experts on ham so couldn’t taste any difference than the ones we had in Spain!
The second course was tagliatelle with truffles which is another well-known specialty in Norcia, known as the Black Truffle of Norcia. Look at how generous the waiter shaving the truffle so we can get some good photos 😀
My first course was the tagliatelle with traditional Norcia sauce, local sheep cheese, sausage and little pieces of pork. The spaghetti tasted like freshly homemade and cooked just right. The sausage and pork tasted good, not the salty one that I expected.
My second course was the baked pork loin, Norcia’s sausage, and baked potatoes and vegetables. The pork loin was tender, I took a bite of the sausage since I know it’s not the salty kind but I read that any preserved meat like sausage should be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy.
Jason’s third-course was the roasted local lamb which he said was very tender and juicy.
For the dessert, we both picked Tiramisu and it was a very generous portion! That alone would have cost like €7 so the set menu was definitely a good value! BUTTTTTTT how sad it is that I can’t have my favorite tiramisu in Italy!!!! Tiramisu is one of those avoid dessert during pregnancy due to raw egg content 🙁 I had to watch Jason eat two huge pieces of tiramisu awww sad!
The set menu price includes the cover charge so we rounded the bill to the nearest ten to €60. Norcia is very quiet especially at night, besides a few locals having dinner, we hardly see any tourists. All the shops (mostly selling Norcia’s famous black truffle and ham) were already closed so there was not much going on at night.
We walked back to the hotel to rest as we were quite tired from the plane ride. Our room in Hotel Palazzo Seneca:
The bathroom is spacious and modern looking but my only complaint is the toilet. I have no idea why they installed it so high that it was very uncomfortable sitting on the toilet; my feet barely can touch the floor!
The hotel was well built so it survived the 2016 earthquake. The entrance has an old piano there and then the steps to the reception desk; very casual.
There’s a living room that guests can enjoy some free teas.
As well as a library area.
The deck has some sun chairs:
From the deck, you can see the garden where they sometimes have live entertainment at night for the restaurant.
The view from the deck is okay but you can see that Norcia is surrounded by fields and mountains.
The flowering of Castelluccio di Norcia was alright, I am pretty sure it’s spectacular when the flowers are fully bloomed. Just too bad hard to predict the timing of Mother Nature and we hardly have that kind of luck. I think the only time we had “luck” was the lavender fields in Provence, France…..that is almost guaranteed during the end of June to mid-July! I was thinking we could come back at the end of our road trip since we are leaving from Rome if the flowers are in full bloom by then. However, the website hasn’t been updated since July 3rd so we did not go back. I do wish that the affected areas can be quickly recovered!