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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Nature’s Spikes and Spires: The Calanchi Valley, Umbria - Page 2

Written by Diana G Armstrong
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Once a year the nearby town of Lubriano, perched above the Calanchi and looking over onto Civita, sponsors a hike down into this valley.  In true Italian fashion, it is no small “bring along your own sandwich” kind of hike. A full blown five course lunch is cooked up over large wood fires. Plate size bisteccas are charred over giant wood fires with rosemary, and potatoes and onions are wedged into ashes and then drizzled with olive oil.  Bunches of grapes from neighboring vineyards are pulled out of backpacks. Soft sweet yesterday’s ricotta is served up with freshly made apricot preserve and espresso is brewed in machinettas in the coals too. We sight a boar cinghiale and her piglets. She has, except for today, the full run of an undiscovered hinterland.

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Apart from this rare “gita”: outing, the Calanchi Valley goes pretty well unnoticed by the entire universe. A small botanical museum in village of Lubriano displays the different types of flora that flourish only there in the valley below and nowhere else in Italy.

Here is a mini Grand Canyon set in the heart of Italy.  It is an ever changing landscape and with each sunrise and sunset and with each season, it becomes a beautiful vista full of misty purples, pinks, and oranges and silver too as the sun and the moon shine on it turning it into a constantly changing and breathtaking vista.  Sometimes one could swear, amongst its craggy spikes, you can see the spires of Milan Cathedral floating there in the distance.

Trains and automobiles fly by not ten miles away from here on their way from Rome to Florence and the raw beauty of this valley goes untouched and unnoticed.

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Tourist information:

Closest city: Orvieto, Umbria

Closest large town: Bagnoregio, Lazio

To hike into to the Calanchi Valley: A) Park your car at the entrance to the town of Lubriano (on the road from Orvieto to Bagnoregio) and follow the well-posted signs into the valley below. Or B) Visit the hill-top town of Civita di Bagnoregio and walk to the Etruscan tunnel at the far end of Civita which will give you access to the foot paths of the Calanchi Valley and to the sentinel of Monte Leone.

For one of the finest meals in all Italy: Stop for lunch at the restaurant Hosteria del Ponte which is at the foot of the bridge leading up to Civita di Bagnoregio and an excellent fueling stop on your way in or out of the valley.

©Diana G Armstrong

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Diana G Armstrong is a Food and Travel writer and the author of Somewhere South of Tuscany.  Diana divides her time between her home near Orvieto, Umbria, Italy and Denver, Colorado.

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Last modified on Friday, 28 February 2014

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