Venturing out on a foggy Montepulciano morning, I could never have predicted the glory that awaited us, just two hours south of Montepulciano, in Umbria.
Motoring through the tunnels on the A5, the sun beckoning us from the mouth of the other side giving way to snow-capped mountains, thoughts of Colorado and my own country warm me through the windshield. The Italy I have come to know is that of Tuscany, and I often return to comfortably sink into its valleys. Today, I gaze up at medieval homes teetering precariously on mountaintop villages.
The sun, breaking through its morning bout of shyness, finally promises us passage up into the mountains of Castelluccio, the 13th century village in the Apennine mountains, and we are grateful for the accessible road that, just yesterday, had been closed due to ice formed by falling snow, plummeting temperatures, and a grey sky. Inching up behind motorcyclists visibly disappointed that their thinly treaded wheels spin in frustration, we sympathize with their realization that they’re forced to turn back, missing out on what I’m about to view.
Merely a brushstroke of cloud is in the sky, leaving the sun to fill its azure landscape, and I see fairy dust in the form of ice crystals dancing in the air at every bend of the two-lane road, desolate save for a few cross country skiers. No kite skiing today, but I imagine Castelluccio is paradise for such daredevils.
My friend’s father just passed away, and I can’t help but think of him at peace now, for this is a place where souls do their final earthly farewell before passing on to their resting place, and I’m quite confident I feel Dave’s spirit.
We’re in awe. Apparently, this sky blue and snow white contrast doesn’t readily occur, and it’s difficult to imagine this quiet serenity lost in the summer months to the throngs of tourists who descend to enjoy Monti Sibillini National Park. My camera shutter is the only sound that breaks the silence, and I can understand why people choose to fall off the grid of, well, other people.
Peaking, wrapping around the top of the mountain, we experience the splash of green on the other side that houses Norcia, nestled down in the valley, where my growing appetite is about to be sated by its famous tartufi.