As you may know, this past weekend Italy experienced another earthquake, affecting one of our most beloved parts of Umbria: Norcia and its surroundings. Norcia, Castelluccio and the Sibillini Mountains embody all that is right in Italy. These are soul places for us, small medieval towns and striking mountain ranges we have visited for decades that hold some of our most treasured memories. Seeing Norcia’s Basilica of San Benedetto (a symbol of European culture and history) reduced to rubble brought upon feelings of shock and sadness.
Norcia is the birthplace of culinary traditions, from prosciutto to truffles; the resting place of St. Benedict (Europe’s main patron saint); and the home of Benedictine monks. Nearby is the tiny village of Castelluccio (less than 20 residents), where for years we have taken travelers in search of Italy’s off-the-beaten path beauty. The village overlooks a magnificent valley – Pian Grande – which in summer blooms in hues of red from poppies, purple from lentils, and yellows, blues & greens from wildflowers. It’s unlike anything that exists in the world. Every time we bring travelers to that view, we count down and wait for our guests, without fail, to exclaim: “WOW…”
“Eat, Pray, Love” is not just the title of a movie – it is the Italian way of life. Something we have embedded in our DNA from our ancestors. We are Umbrian, we are Italian, and we will rebuild this area and return it to its storied beauty. We love you, Norcia. Always.