Norcia, Umbria in central Italy, June 2015

HF Holidays - a week based at the Hotel Grotta Azzura in Norcia, a beautiful walled town at the south western corner of the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini.


Photo Gallery

(1) On the Sunday we did a series of small peaks on a ridge, from which this view of the Pantani lakes suddenly appeared, with horses and cattle gathered around the tiny lakes (Day 1)
(2) This marked the summit of Monte Utero (Mount Uterus) which I nicknamed 'a womb with a view' as it had a delightful 360 degree view from the top.
(3) Another nice view from the ridge.
(4) Some of the group heading down from one summit and towards the next.
(5) A carpet of blue flowers on the edge of a wooded area.
(6) Descending along a track near the woods. The walk today was about 8 miles.
(7) The walk on day 2 began and ended at the hilltop village of Castelluccio. A feature of this holiday was the wide diversity of wild flowers adorning the mountainsides.
(8) A section of the Piano Grande, a former lake bed which is nowadays planted with lentils and other crops, forming a colourful patchwork across the huge flat plain.
(9) The end of the walk as we head up to enjoy an ice cream or drink at Castelluccio (the walk was 10 miles).
(10) Day 3 and today's walk started and ended at the Hotel Felycita at Frontegnano. Here stunning limestone crags tower above us.
(11) The track levels out to grass as we head south towards today's objective.
(12) A view over one of the villages scattered across the area.
(13) The ridge leading to the summit. Here only 3 of us opted to continue to the peak as a lightning storm was raging about 2 miles to the south.
(14) Here we are at the summit of Monte Bove Sud (2169m). There was only about enough room on the tiny summit for a small car.
(15) Heading down on what in winter would be a ski run back to the hotel where I myself had a nice beer. Walk was 6 miles but a lot of ascent and descent.
(16) Day 4 was a 'rest day' and I decided to walk the 4 mile Norcia to Serravalle route along the old railway line. It was a lovely walk and the weather was perfect.
(17) The abandoned tunnel just before the end of the line.
(18) I stopped for a coffee and cake at the cafe across the bridge before setting off back the way I came. I only encountered 5 or 6 people on the way.
(19) Back in Norcia I took this photo of the town square with the town hall and one of 17 churches found in the town.
(20) You won't find many civic theatres around the world as pretty as this example near the war memorial.
(21) Day 5 (Thursday) and today the hard walk group tackles the highest peak of the week - Monte Vettore. There were one or two steep climbs, levelling off, then more.
(22) Rugged crags with scree fields and patches of snow still unmelted in June.
(23) Here I am at the summit (2476 metres, which is 7,547 feet).
(24) At the foot of this peak is a strange dark blue lake which is inhabited by freshwater crustaceans which apparently turn the lake pink in the summer.
(25) Yet more flowers thriving amongst the limestone. Today's walk was 7 miles, weather absolutely perfect, even on the summit where we had our lunch.
(26) Day 6 (Friday). Here we filled our bottles at a cascade of cattle troughs. I unblocked one of them (a plumber who charges nothing).
(27) After a lung busting ascent lasting a good 30 minutes I get to the top of Monti Patino (1886m).
(28) One of countless attractive views we enjoyed on today's ridge walk which skirted the western edge of the Piano Grande (this is of course the 'big plain' and not a large musical instrument).
(29) To celebrate the fantastic week with the harder walks group, Andy the leader (hidden), Liam (standing), David and Carolyn (and of course I), enjoy lunch and a cup of sparkling Fonseca below the cross at the top of Monte Patino.

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