Monti Sibillini - Marche
Between Umbria and Marche, in the heart of Italy and in the wake of its thousand-year-old history: from the Etruscans to the Alchemists, from the Romans to the Renaissance Saints. A land caressed by nature and warmed by the hearts of its inhabitants, for an adventure between heaven and earth.
Imagine to move through the classic hills of the Italian centre, with the beautiful Adriatic coast at your back. Then, suddenly, in front of you a massif breaks apart from the surrounding plain . At first the territory becomes bleaker, and suddenly the shades of thousands of colourful flowers take over. You are entering into the magic of the Sibillini Mounts, a mountain chain that stands over the Umbria-Marche Appennines: a wild land where animals such as the wolf, the wild cat and the porcupine on the ground, the eagle owl, the peregrine falcon and the golden eagle in the sky are lively.
The highest point is the Mount Vettore (2.476 metres), but to get there we suggest that you follow the footsteps of the ancient travelers, who considered these mountains a divine revelation. This is what the Etruscans of Norcia must have thought, a name derived from their goddess Fortuna, Northia. Founded in the fifth century by the Sabines, in Norcia we meet the first local historical figure linked to spirituality: San Benedetto. The Square named after him is beautiful as well as the Basilica of the twelfth century. Not too far away there is Visso, home to the National Park of Sibillini Mounts: 70.000 hectares with 18 municipalities and many legends.
Before climbing into the sky you can find other villages considered among the most beautiful ones of Italy: San Ginesio (with its homonymous Collegiate), Sarnano, whose coat of arms seems to have been designed by San Francesco, Pievebovigliana, suspended between the hills and keeper of ancient archeological finds. At about 1,000 metres above sea level, we find the Sanctuary of Macereto, which represents the best expression of the Renaissance architecture of Marche of the sixteenth century, built at the behest of the Virgin Mary.
At this point the grotta della Sibilla (the cave of the Sybil) is the next stop-over. This remote corner of the world, located at 2.150 metres above sea level, is considered the home of the Appennine Sibyl, a pre-Roman magical figure brought back to light by the chivalric novel Guerrin Meschino. Nearby, there is the Lake of Pilato, that the alchemists, who attended it since the fifteenth century, believed to be the entrance point of the Underworld. A walk in the so-called natural gorges of the Underworld is finally the best way to freshen up during a hot summer and - if you're lucky - you could see the hermitage of San Leonardo.
Back in this world, Tolentino with the Basilica di San Nicola, and Fiastra, with its homonymous Abbey, are a must-see jewels of a territory that will remain within your soul.
The liquor Mistrà, a digestive macerated 40 days in alcohol, or the wine San Ginesio DOC, will accompany at best the dishes of the local traditions, such as the “polentone “ with local corn and meat sauce or the Ciauscolo di Visso, a spreadable salami among the best delicacies.