The Sibillini 3 - 10 June 2017

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 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).

For those who want more: we can offer a three day extension to take in the high mountains, flower displays and castles of Abruzzo.

Price: €1620

Dates: 3 - 10 June 2017

For the first part of our trip we are based at a family run agriturismo near Preci close to flower meadows. We then move to the spectacularly sited, hill-top village of Castelluccio di Norcia in a small agriturismo. Both 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 luncthtime (weather permitting)
* All accommodation

What’s not included:
* Flights
* Personal insurance

Food & Drink:
The main town of this region is one of the gourmet capitals of Italy, Norcia, known for truffles, the small lentils of Casteluccio, high quality salumi and sheep cheeses. Red wines are strong and earthy

Sibillini - Itinerary

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

Day 2
In the morning explore the fields and paths around Il Collaccio - along lanes and through traditionally managed meadows and woods where some 16 orchid species thrive - to say nothing of butterflies and birds such as hoopoe, nightjar, cirl bunting and scops owl…convenient for those evening forays you might like to make.

Day 3
We travel down the Nera valley to San Pietro in Valle and walk along a riverside path where orchids such as Adriatic lizard, Violet limodore, Bee and late Spider are in flower. Moist flowery meadows hum with insects and Camberwell beauty butterflies have been in evidence every time we have visited. Southern white admiral and nettle tree butterflies haunt the lanes.

Day 4
Close to Il Collaccio lies Monte Mericone - we walk around its top climbing gently through open woodlands to flower-strewn slopes with an astonishing variety of orchids and views over the Sibillini area to distant snow-capped slopes beyond.

Day 5
We explore the woods and meadows along the Campi valley travelling up to several hill top villages in a leisurely fashion and then down into Norcia - a fascinating walled town and gastronomic capital of Umbria. We explore some of the surrounding hills with interesting hybrid orchids as a precursor to the Piano Grande.

Day 6 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 which fills the bowl ringed by mountains, disperses. We descend to the plain and travel across to the south facing slopes of Monte Vettore where delightful alpines and grand vistas await.

Day 7 Piano Grande
With appetites whetted we explore the hills ringing the plain and look for the best displays of flowers we can find as camera subjects - each year they change as fields are tilled. From the heights as we descend towards Norcia we see fields of poppies in a patchwork below - we make use of the low angle and warmth of the evening light to get those poppy shots to remember.

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. Depending on interest and fitness of party members we can also ascend to the edge of the melting snow for wonderful displays of crocus.

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

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