Few km away from Cascia, a place to live Valnerina

Vallo di Nera, a castle on the horizon

A lengthy human and natural history, which has survived for several centuries in a fragile balance, has shaped a territory of medieval charm: Vallo di Nera, an ancient castle founded in 1217. If on the one hand the Nera river, flowing between steep slopes covered with woods, has created one of the most beautiful spots of Italy, on the other hand humans, with their struggle for survival and defense, have enriched this corner of Valnerina by creating one of the best examples of Umbrian village. It is no by chance that Vallo di Nera is acknowledged as one of the “most beautiful villages in Italy”. From the castle there is a dense web of paths at different altitudes to be covered on foot, by bicycle or on horseback. A place where time seems to stand still, a castle that houses within it gastronomic routes whose flavors are very ancient, above all of them the cheese, prince of the local table.

The Dragon Valley

The Abbey of Saints Felice and Mauro, lapped by the harmonious flow of the Nera river, narrates the epic achievements of these two Syrian monks to whom it is consecrated. The Abbey is an admirable example of Umbrian Romanesque architecture, and it stands in a place imbued in charm: according to tradition, the Nera valley, which today appears as a painting of medieval villages and ancient vineyards, in past times was a swampy forest, home of a dark creature: a dragon. The legend says that the two Syrian monks, whose courage is narrated by the finely carved frieze supporting the rose window, killed the dragon and evangelized the Nera valley. The frescoes dating from 1100, the wonderfully carved facade, the cave where, according to legend, the dragon lived and the lush nature in which it is immersed make the Abbey of Saints Felice and Mauro one of the most precious jewels of the Valnerina.

Hermitage carved in the rock

The Hermitage of the Madonna della Stella, carved into the rock by the skillful hands of Benedictine monks, is one of the most beautiful sites of green Umbria. It was the 7th century when the earliest hermitages settled in this corner of Valnerina. Among the silences of wind and nature, in a place where you can see nothing but the big blue sky, the hymns of prayer were joined by that of art: the Hermitage, in fact, takes its name from an evocative artwork depicting the Madonna dressed in stars, accidentally found on a cliff. To frame the path that leads to the Hermitage of the Madonna della Stella, a clear stream flowing from the eastern slopes of the Valnerina, becomes a small waterfall not so far from the Sanctuary.

The Castelluccio Plateau

“The place most similar to Tibet in Europe” this is how a famous traveler defined the Castelluccio plateau, an ancient land of pastel colors, in the shadow of the Sibillini Mountains. A multi-faceted corner of Umbria: kingdom of nature and land of ancient legends, goat-footed fairies and mystical oracles, like the Sibyl, which gives its name to the eponymous mountain range that is now a National Park, by virtue of its authenticity. Among the countless experiences made possible on the Castelluccio plateau there is one that never disappoints: an excursion on foot or on horseback through the thousands of paths that make up the heart of this place, an almost involuntary slip into the arms of Mother Nature. And then unmistakable flavors that seemed lost but that come from the heart of a generous land: from lentils to cereals this is a corner of paradise that speaks a common language, the one of tradition.

Saffron from Cascia

The deep mystery surrounding the etymology of the word “Crocus Sativus”, the scientific name for what is commonly referred to as saffron, is lost in the legend of the young boy Crocco, who fell in love with the nymph Smilace and was later transformed into a blond saffron flower. The cultivation of saffron, a peculiar element of Umbrian history and customs, draws on the experiences of an important past understood as a precious heritage from which to draw inspiration. A work where the human involvment can’t be excluded: from the preparation of the soil, to the choice of the bulbs, passing through the moment of brushing up to the packaging of the final product. The palate will move through the picturesque alleys of the City of Cascia, looking for shops where you can buy the fine local saffron to which the restaurant managed by Hotel delle Rose dedicates a gastronomic journey with a thousand nuances.

A few kilometers from Cascia some of the most enchanting places of green Umbria: Norcia and the Truffle, the Marmore Falls, Spoleto and the Albornotian Rook, Leonessa and Mt. Terminillo, Montefalco and the Sagrantino path.