The Sibillini 26 May - 2 June 2018

The Sibillini is one of the newest of Italy’s national parks and is situated on the borders of Umbria and Le Marche. It is a paradise for wildflowers and butterflies and there are still threatened species such as wolves and golden eagles present in small numbers.

Our trip to the Sibillini and associated Apennine areas introduces you to a paradise of scenery, wildflowers and insects - perfect for honing your flower and macro photography.

In half an hour or less one can move from meadows with distinctly Mediterranean orchids, to screes with high alpines such as Androsaces (rock jasmines) and gentians. Many wild orchids flourish in the extensive woodlands and meadows whilst short meadow turf is coloured with hectares of mountain flowers...thymes, forget-me-nots and rockroses spreading to tint whole areas of hillsides.

For the first part of our trip we are based at a family run hotel near Preci close to flower meadows. We then move to Castelluccio di Norcia and a small agriturismo, specialising in local dishes. Here, the Piano Grande stretches out before you, enclosed by a ring of mountains and dominated by the bulk of Mt Vettore. This was once a glacial lake but is now a vast pasture where skylarks make the air throb with song. Earlier in the year, there are crocus followed by spectacular plants such as yellow tulips (Tulipa australis), white narcisssus (Narcissus poeticus) fritillaries (Fritillaria montana) and peonies (Paeonia officinalis). In June and July butterflies are plentiful with blues, ringlets and some populations of Apollos (Parnassius apollo) and clouded Apollo (P. mnemosyne).

The last two nights we spend in a delightful agriturismo close to Monteleone where they produce everything themselves from bread flower, vegetable, meat and superb liqueurs. This allows easy access to Mte Terminillo and the chance to experience a true alpine environment with superb flowers dotting the turf… such as crocus (Crocus vernus) gentians (both G. verna and G. dinarica) wild pansies (Viola eugeniae) in a range of colours and combinations, shrubs such as Mezereon (Daphne mezereon) and many more whilst choughs wheel overhead and snow finches dance amongst the rocks.

Price: €1620
Dates: 26 May - 2 June 2018

During our trip we are based at a family run agriturismi: the first lies near Préci, close to flower meadows. We then move to the spectacularly sited, hill-top village of Castelluccio di Norcia and to Monteleone di Spoleto: all of them specialise in excellent local dishes.

What’s included:
* All tuition
* All local travel including pick up and drop off at airport
* All meals with wine - gourmet picnics at lunchtime (weather permitting)
* All accommodation

What’s not included:
* Flights
* Personal insurance

Food & Drink:
The main town of this region, Norcia, is one of the gourmet capitals of Italy, known for truffles, the small lentils of Casteluccio, high quality salumi and sheep cheeses. Red wines are strong and earthy. Our accommodation choices provide excellent, wholesome dishes from local produce.

Sibillini - Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival
Arrival in Rome and transfer to our base in the picturesque Campi valley (approx 2.5 hrs).

Day 2 Campi valley
In the morning we explore the fields and paths around about - along lanes and through traditionally managed meadows and woods where some 16 orchid species thrive - to say nothing of an assortment of butterflies and birds such as hoopoe, nightjar, cirl bunting and scops owl. Our picnic spot is a short distance by road where we can wander in an orchid meadow high above the valley. After lunch, we explore parts of nearby Monte Mericone with flower-strewn slopes and views over the Sibillini area to the distant snow-capped slopes beyond.

Day 3 Campi valley
We explore the woods and meadows along and above the Campi valley travelling up to several hill top villages in a leisurely fashion and eventually down into Norcia - a fascinating walled town and gastronomic capital of Umbria.

Day 4 Piano Grande
We transfer to Castellucio di Norcia sited on a glacial spoil heap at the far end of the Piano Grande. The first sight of the vast plain of the Piano Grande, once a glacial lake, is an unforgettable experience whether the air is clear or we arrive just before the morning mist disperses from the ‘bowl’ ringed by mountains. We descend to the plain stopping for wild tulips and narcissus then travel to the south facing slopes of Monte Vettore where we picnic amongst the peonies and wander along easy paths.

Day 5 Piano Grande
With appetites whetted, we explore the hills ringing the plain looking for the best displays of flowers we can find as camera subjects - each year they change as fields are tilled. We make use of the low angle and warmth of the evening light to get those poppy and cornflower shots to remember.

Day 6 Mte Terminillo
Our transfer to Monteleone di Spoleto takes us via mountain roads and spectacular scenery with frequent stops for roadside flowers…orchids included: sword-leaved helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia), violet limodore (Limodorum abortivum) and bird’s nest orchid (Neottia nidus avis)…in several places there are interesting butterflies such as Black-veined whites. and a range of ‘blues’

Day 7 Mte Terminillo
Our base allows us to reach the heights of Mte Terminillo travelling through dense beech woodlands to the heights beyond. Scenically, the limestone crags give the impression of a mini-Dolomite range - here is a true alpine realm where the short turf is studded with gentians, rock jasmines (androsaces), colourful pansies and spring crocus (Crocus vernus) near the edges of patches of melting snow… Orchids include the distinct colour forms of elderflower orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina) as well as pale-flowered orchid (Orchis pallens)

Day 8
Return to Rome and the flights home

NB Our time in and around the Piano Grande has to be a moveable feast - we literally keep a ‘weather eye’ open in this complex, ringed mountain system. We make the best use of local conditions.

We know this region intimately having walked there ourselves over the decades which is why we can be flexible in what we offer. For example:

  • For a group of four friends wishing to travel together we can offer this trip at the same price but tailor it to your particular interests…

    For clients keen to see birds we can incorporate an extensive wetland on prior request. For keen entomologist we have great butterfly sites…if you want a bit of history and architecture we can throw that in, too. Just talk to us….

    If you want to experience the floral colours of the Piano Grande (shown below) we offer 3 - 4 day workshops in early July on request. Contact us for details

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Tours 2018

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