Hills and woods, grasslands and tilled fields – Umbria is the “green heart of Italy”!
And this is true, but there is much more to it.
Sweet hill slopes are gradually replaced by mountain formations: Mount Subasio, Mount Cucco and its grottoes, Mount Tezio, Monti Martani, and the range of Monti Sibillini. And dealing with the “Sibillini,” we cannot but mention Castel-luccio di Norcia, one of the highest inhabited places in the Apennines. Here the famous fiorita, the blooming, lights the natural hollow (1,452 meters = some 4,200 feet above sea level) with red, yellow, purple, blue, and green.
The Apennine peaks keep rising up to the highest point, the peak that overlooks the whole Region as part of Mount Vet-tore (2,476 meters = some 7,500 feet).
Thick, lush woods alternate with green grasslands; then make room to rocky lands, rich – among other materials – in travertine and tuff, which give a very special taste to the wines produced in those vineyards.
Fertile fields are cut through by rivers who boldly cross the thick vegetation and overcome many differences in height, with jumps and waterfalls, meanwhile making the environment lively with their sounds. Tiber River crosses the Upper Tiber Valley (Alta Valle Tevere), and by descending, it creates a lush River Park, 50 kilometers (some 30 miles) long. The Tiber's flow rate is increased by its tributaries, like Paglia and Chiascio, but especially Nera and Velino.
This is how an old legend explains the origin of the Marmore Waterfall (Cascata delle Marmore), some 240 feet high, and a symbol of eternal love: a man named Velinus desperately threw himself down from a cliff to join his beloved nymph Nar, who had been changed into a river by divine wrath.
The area of Valnerina, i.e. the Nera Valley, also crossed by Corno River, provides an ideal setting to those who love breathtaking vistas, adventure, sports in symbiosis with Nature, like rafting and fishing. In these rivers there swims, among others, the Fario trout, that lives in transparent waters rich in oxygen and with a fast stream.
When they do not frantically run down mountain slopes, Umbrian waters create crystal-like lakes surrounded by magic environments, such as the Springs of Clitunno or the Mole of Narni (the town after which Narnia was named), and other wonderful sheets of water.
Diving down behind the horizon, the sun paints with breathtaking colors the surface of Lake Trasimeno, the largest lake in Central Italy. The natural show can be admired from its banks, but it will turn into a unique experience on board of ferries or boats: the water will acquire silver, mercury-like glares, together with the warm hues of sunset. Three islands – Polvese, Maggiore (i.e. the Bigger One), and Minore (the Smaller One) – stand out on this lake so full of flora and fauna.
Another area with a lake is Piediluco, in the southern district of Terni; encircled by a wood, it used to be a “must visit” during the so-called Grand Tour in the 18th and 19th centuries. Piediluco, a small village, mirrors its colorful houses in the waters. Restaurants will serve eels and trouts cooked according to a local recipe (alla piedilucana), as well as the Best of the wood, especially mushrooms and truffles.
In Umbria you will be able to discover, admire, enjoy Nature as the absolute protagonist, sometimes sweet, sometimes wild, but constantly rich in its vegetation, varied in its fauna. Here the human being cannot but feel linked with Nature; and may learn to love a slower lifestyle – for example through walking, hiking, or horse hiking – anyway not less excit-ing, thanks to paragliding, rafting, or the amusing adventure parks.
It will therefore be easy to found out that the smells of the woods, the lapping of water, the chirping of birds do have something to tell. Just take your time and listen to them.