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Norcia and its Nature

Discovering Umbria

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The ''Marcite''
The marcite of Norcia are frequently mowed and irrigated fields in the flat part most south of the Plain of Santa Scolastica, right outside the walls of the city. This area is the result of man's constant work for centuries and it is divided in small plots of land separated by irrigation canals and ditches. The temperature of the soil is regulated by an inlet of water in summer, whereas in winter it remains constant due to a lamina of running water on the grassy mantle.

The layer of water has an important thermoregulating effect which allows the soil and the vegetation to not freeze. This system allows the cultures to develop still further and they yield up to ten hay crops a year.

The soil is composed of alluvium surrounded by alluvial cones, that form a basin which is in the place of what once was a lake basin.

The whole hydrogeological system, the flora and fauna give life to an environment and a landscape unique in Italy.

The Plains of Castelluccio
The Plains of Castelluccio are together with the mount Vettore and the complex of the Sibillini mountains one of the most beautiful and admired natural scenes in Umbria and the whole country. It is an entire system of great cultural and scientific interest. It is at a high altitude and formed by a sequence of basins of tectonic and karstic origins alternating with mountains, that reach almost 2500 metres high with the mount Vettore.

The Great Plain of Castelluccio spreads out about 7 kilometres long and 3 kilometres wide. At the side of the plain in an elevated position on a summit dominates the village Castelluccio di Norcia, that is on its 1452 metres altitude one of the highest on the Italian peninsula.

The best moment to enjoy the natural spectacle of the Great Plain is spring, when the flowering covers the 13 square kilometres of the plain with all shades of colours, transforming the meadows in a wonderful terrestrial rainbow.

In June the landscape becomes alive due to the famous ''fiorita'', that is the flowering of the meadows, pastures and cultivations which exploding fill the Great Plain with coloured petals, designing paintings with a stunning emphasis on colour. In spring the plain transforms in an enormous carpet embroidered with a floral texture which welcomes all tourists, that go on a pilgrimage to this real environmental sanctuary.
The Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini
The commune of Norcia is the biggest centre of those in the territory of the national park Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini, one of the most charming and fascinating parks of the Italian peninsula. It is a place laden with magic and extends between the two sides of Umbria and the Marches, along the ridge which had been definded ''Magic Apennine'', because it is surrounded by myths and legends, that populate since the Middle Ages the the common imagination.

The highest summits of the group are the mount Vettore and the mount Sibilla, both of them abundantly over 2000 metres high, tutelary deities of the park and of the many stories it has to tell.

Originally everything was covered with seas, which were slowly swallowed up by a still active swallow-hole, formed by the Great Plain and the Lost Plain. As an evidence of the period of the great glaciations remains the wonderful view of the Pilate's Lake at the feet of mount Vettore.

It is a lake of glacial origins at 1940 metres altitude, which has a history full of magic, ancient beliefs and followers of the occult. According to a famous tradition the governor of Palestine, Pilates, who let crucify Christ, was brought in the deep water of the lake by demons which still today live along the shores.

A really rare thing in biology is the presence of a minute shellfish, the chirocefalo del Marchesoni, which has been found exclusively in the waters of Pilate's Lake.

Another place full of mystery and magic is the cavern Grotta della Sibilla at the feet of the mount Sibilla, the place where dwelled the famous enchantress of heroes and condottieri. According to Virgil Aeneas went there attracted by the blandishments and the esoteric arts of the sorceress like so many other personalities. The legend tells that the knights errant, who saw her had to overcome terrible trials, then they could stay for one year. When this period had passed they had to suffer eternal damnation.
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