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TDI 2019 Day 6 – Castelluccio di Norcia

After a drive-free day spent with my friends (…and the reason why there is a jump in the day count), it’s time for me and one of my oldest friends in Italy to spend some quality time together.

Old & not so old

Old & not so old

Many years ago – long before it was practical to travel to central Italy by TWIKE, one of my long-time readers of my blog – Marta (hi there!) – suggested I should take TW650 to Terni and then travel to Castellucio di Norcia as the experience was otherworldly.

We’ve decided to drive to Norcia and from there to climb up to Castelluccio di Norcia to see Norcia, Castelluccio and some other towns affected by the recent earthquake. We start bright and early in Terni and head up the Nera valley.

On our way, we have to stock up on caffeine and cornettos in a nice example of the many old towns along the Nera river.

Oh, that would be an idea!

Oh, that would be an idea!

I enjoy that finally I’ve got a keen photographer with me and get pictures of me and the TWIKE.

Small roads

Small roads

From there, we drive to Norcia, badly hit by the 2016 earthquake that comprehensively destroyed many of the beautiful old buildings in this medieval town. The biggest difference this time around is that there are virtually no tourists. The town seems more or less deserted and the large temporary housing lots just outside the main town limits don’t get any happy vibe going.

Trying to conserve what's left

Trying to conserve what’s left

The main church of Benedict had been through multiple earthquakes (I was living in Italy when the last one hit in the 1979 and can remember how powerful it was) but always escaped with just minor damage. Not this time: Only one wall was left standing … barely – the rest is gone.

Attempt at keeping the structure up

Attempt at keeping the structure up

Many houses in Norcia are damaged beyond repair, no longer in use and will need to be torn down.

All these buildings will be torn down eventually

All these buildings will be torn down eventually

Ahh. Finally, someone takes pictures of me!

Me doing touristy things

Me doing touristy things

We leave Norcia in northerly direction and quickly climb 800m on our way to Castellucio di Norcia. One of my longtime blog readers, Marta, had suggested driving there for years as it is an incredible geographic feature, offers an extremely colourful lentil blossom season and last but not least Castellucio itself is a medieval town perched above the plane.

Climbing up to the pass

Climbing up to the pass

After crossing the pass, the landscape changes dramatically and the road takes us along the crater down to the lentil fields.

The road down to Castelluccio di Norcia

The road down to Castelluccio di Norcia

 

Moon-like

Moon-like

 

What a view - Castelluccio di Norcia in the background

What a view – Castelluccio di Norcia in the background

 

Entering the valley

Entering the valley

 

Entering the valley, Castelluccio in the background

Entering the valley, Castelluccio in the background

 

Northern America or central Italy?

Northern America or central Italy?

Since it’s early in the year and we’re at 1400m, vegetation is still more or less pre-spring – grey, brown and yellow dominate. To give you an idea how this looks like slightly later in the year, I’ve taken the liberty to link some images below.

Castelluccio di Norcia Italia

Foto credit: Carlo Corvatta

 

Castelluccio – Norcia, la fioritura Foto Tiziana Fabi (afp) / Source La Repubblica

 

Source: ilmartino.it / Pio Di Leonardo

Arriving at Castelluccio, however, is a sobering experience. More than half the buildings are either collapsed or have been razed. The rest shows various levels of destruction. None of them are being lived in and there is a military presence to discourage people going into the village. There are some temporary containers on the new main square from which we buy some local produce and get ourselves a plate of cold cut meat for a quick bite.

Always some interest, no matter where it is

Always some interest, no matter where it is

 

Snack en-route

Snack en-route

 

This is what life at 100% looks like

This is what life at 100% looks like

We enjoy the meats and cheeses whilst chatting with some of the people interested in what the TWIKE is.

Eventually, we make our way back out of the valley but have to change our plans after the road we initially had planned to take was blocked due to the damages made by the earthquake. We drive back to the valley drive towards another pass which will take us to another valley badly damaged by the earthquake.

The road there offered breathtaking views – I must come back to this place sometime during spring!

Lentil fields and access road to the valley

Lentil fields and access road to the valley

As we leave the valley, we glimpse the hill Castelluccio was perched upon. Now basically nothing remains. A very sad view. Especially as it is not a given with Italy’s slow processes and governance that this village will ever be rebuilt.

There was a village at the top not so long ago

There was a village at the top not so long ago

Wow, another photo of meeee!

Castellucia di Norcia in the background

Castellucia di Norcia in the background

The road we take has nice views but no tarmac. A bumpy affair indeed if your tires are at 8 bar!

Down to the next valley...and some tarmac

Down to the next valley…and some tarmac

 

We made it to the rim of the crater

We made it to the rim of the crater

The next few photos show the absolute destruction we encountered during our drive back to Terni.

Nothing left...

Nothing left…

 

Comprehensive destruction

Comprehensive destruction

 

Not much left

Not much left

We then drove past Amatrice, another town comprehensively destroyed. Amatrice had over 300 deaths during the first wave, making it the town with the most deaths per capita. Amatrice is known the world over for it’s beloved all’Amatriciana pasta sauce…one of my favourites.

Incredible scale of destruction

Incredible scale of destruction

 

Comprehensive destruction

Comprehensive destruction

Eventually, we had seen enough destruction and decided that it was time to head back to Terni for some drinks and relaxation. Today was an intense day interspersed with extremely beautiful views! Looking forward to my next day trip coming up next.

TDI2019 - Day 6 GPS Track

TDI2019 – Day 6 GPS Track