Festa Monini: colors, sounds and tastes of Umbria

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A week end at Marmore

Monini and Umbria
07 Maggio 2014

A week end at Marmore




A brief sporty but relaxing holiday; to usher in spring. An easy bicycle ride, around Lake Piediluco in a beautiful, natural environment, among small villages that are not to be missed with interesting gourmet stops along the way and an exciting night tour of the great waterfalls.

They are awesome, spectacular. A driving flood of rushing water falling from the height of 165 metres: the is the great Velino fall from the Marmore cliff. The highest waterfall in Europe, impressive, loud, exciting ... artificial!
Created by the Romans in 290 B.C., carrying out hydraulic engineering work on the Velino River, near the cliff, so that its waters would fall into the Nera River's bed that flowed below. This is why the falls are not continuous, but water is released at specific times.
To see this wonder, therefore, it is a good idea to check the open hours or follow the guided tours that lead to beautiful park trails, passing next to, between, above and even below all that falling water, at the best moment to appreciate its power and beauty.

 

Visiting the Park

The park is accessible to all. The main points of reference are the lower and an upper lookout, both easily accessible from the road, but of course there are many more attractive trails to follow on foot, among the vegetation: a first trail climbs from one lookout point to another, a second travels along an iron bridge, another one is wide and flat, with a beautiful panoramic view over the Nera Valley. A complete tour of the park can last three to five hours and can include a welcome stop in the picnic area, as well as an informed guide on botanical and naturalistic aspects, rather than historical and archaeological ones.
On particular dates, caving tours are organised or try the enjoyable "fantapasseggiate" - "fantasy-walks" for the children during which a staff member disguised as "Gnefro," the Marmore goblin together with the Velino shepherd and the Nera nymph, lead children through the most beautiful naturalistic areas, fascinating them with stories of ancient legends.

 

The falls by night

The most exciting and emotional tour is perhaps the nocturnal one.
In the darkness and silence of the night, the senses are on alert, perceiving and amplifying every sensation. Only the sounds of the forest and the flowing water can be heard in the park, first far away, then closer. Equipped with a head light torch and helmet, following the guide and the noise of the steps. From the lower lookout, sliding along the paths between the gorges and the Nera River's rapids or under the fall, where the water's sound becomes thunderous. A truly unique sensation. Not to be missed.

 

An impressive and easy cycle

After a long night of emotion, it is nice to enjoy a bright morning, en plein air. A nice, easy bike ride is perfect, not too long and flat, which leads us to wander in peace around Lake Piediluco, among beautiful untouched nature, marvellous landscapes and villages that are not to be missed.
The route proposed by bikeinumbria, starts from the Parco Campacci, in Marmore right next to the Falls lookout and continues to the left towards Piediluco, flat cycling along the Velino River's course. Follow the signs to Piediluco, after a few kilometres you will reach the picturesque town for which the lake was named, as it lies on the narrow strip of land that runs between the lake and the mountain.

 

Piediluco

The town is small, very ancient (archaeological excavations have discovered remains dating back to the late Bronze Age), dominated by a fortress on the hill built in the eleventh century, now in ruins, but, which was once highly coveted for its strategic location.
For centuries it was a fishing village, but today it thrives on tourism. With its colourful houses, it is a great stopping point to appreciate the scenery, the almost surreal atmosphere of this charming lake area, with its irregular shape, framed by the green oak wood hills. The water is cold, still and calm. The landscape brings serenity and wonder.
Behind the lake, a large cone-shaped mountain, called Eco because it can echo a hendecasyllable perfectly.

 

Around the lake

After the break, the path continues in the direction of Rieti and then to Colli sul Velino. A little uneven and after about a kilometre, follow the signs to Lago di Ventina. The road is beautiful, surrounded by greenery and leads back to the opposite side of the lake.
From there, going towards Terni, it rejoins the road quickly and within three kilometres its back to the starting point.
The tour is short: the ring described is about twenty kilometres, therefore feasible even for the untrained. But for those wishing to lengthen the tour, take the opportunity to visit other interesting places in the area.

 

Nature around the Lake

Not far from the lake, nestled in the Lake's Natural Reserve along Ripasottile there is the Sorgente di Santa Susanna, one of the largest in Europe. And, near the spring, you can visit a botanical garden with beautiful trials that lead to an old mill.
Moreover, the lake's ecosystem and along Ripasottile (which once formed the ancient Lacus Piediluco Velinus), characterised by a maze of waterways, canals, marshes and secondary ponds a perfect example of an Apennine wetland that represents exceptional natural reasons of interest due to the birds that populate it.
And yet, a few kilometres from Piediluco there is Villalago, a historic nineteenth-century house with its open park offering a bird's-eye view of the lake.

For lovers of art and history

Movie fans may be curious to check out the Papigno film studios, where, among others, "Life is Beautiful" and "Pinocchio" were filmed.
But around the Falls, there is also a lot of history, starting from the castles on the hill. For example the one in Arrone, built in the ninth century, around the castle the first nucleus of a perfectly preserved medieval village formed, which is to be visited for its beautiful structure and the architectural value of its buildings: civic bell tower, the tower "degli olivi" - (olive trees), the fourteenth-century church of San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), the sixteenth-century collegiate church of Santa Maria Assunta and the former convent of San Francesco (St. Francis).
Another beautiful castle is in the village Casteldilago, built on a rocky outcrop near a lake that now no longer exists. In addition to visiting the church of San Valentino (St. Valentine) and San Nicola (St. Nicholas) (with frescoes by Spagno), is the sixteenth century shrine of Madonna dello Scoglio, (Our Lady of the Rock), built under the sheer ridge.

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