Put the pan with the salted water on the fire. As soon as the water boils, pour the roveja flour and mix vigorously with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. At a low heat, keep turning the polenta with a wooden spoon for about 40 minutes. While the Farecchiata is cooking, heat the extra virgin olive oil with the whole garlic in a non-stick pan; when they are golden brown, remove them and insert the anchovy fillets, letting them melt slowly over low heat. Once the polenta is cooked, remove it from the heat, pour it into the dishes and season with the flavored oil you have prepared; let it rest for a minute, then serve with a rolled anchovy in the center of the plate. Your Farecchiata di Roveja is finally ready to be enjoyed.
A tantalizing variant: to make your Farecchiata more crunchy, cut it into slices, fry it and serve it with an anchovy fillet.
Farecchiata, (or polenta with Roveja flour), is a typical polenta with a delicate and slightly bitter taste that is prepared in different areas of the Marche region, but especially in the Castelluccio di Norcia one, in Umbria. It is a dish that belongs to pastoral tradition: an important source of sustenance for the families of shepherds and farmers of the Sibillini Mountains. A very poor dish that in the past was served as a breakfast to the local shepherds. The main ingredient is Roveja, a small and tasty brownish legume, similar to chickpeas but with a stronger flavor. Also known as field pea, robiglio or corbello, roveja is an ancient legume, which risks disappearing due to the difficulties related to the impervious conditions of the territory and the morphology of the plant. Nowadays, in fact, it only survives in a limited area of Valnerina thanks to the efforts of some farmers who work in the locality of Preci (Cascia), where there is also an ancient water source called dei rovegliari. Extremely nutritious, with a high intake of proteins, phosphorus, carbohydrates and a reduced fat content, roveja is now a Slow Food Presidium.
«So in the form of a white rose that was shown the holy militia (…) in the great flower came down that is adorned with so many leaves, and then went back where his love always updates». (Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy, Paradise, Canto XXXI, vv. 1- 2 e 10-12)
The rosewindows, real embroideries of stone placed on the facades of the churches, through their decorations filter the divine light, becoming colored beams that illuminate the aisles. The rose window is a spoke wheel that symbolizes, according to Christian tradition, the dominion of Christ on earth. It is present on the axis of the main nave, sometimes also of the secondary ones or in correspondence of chapels or cross arms. The circular shape and the chromatic range allowed the glass masters to create works of sacred art depicting, in the form of an icon, the most significant passages of the Gospel. The rose window represents the wheel of Fortune: Dante himself defines it as an angelic Intelligence that is based in Empiricism and operates among men through a divine plan. The rosette «clearly explains the cyclical nature of human fortune and confines human time to the immeasurable nature of God’s time».
Basilica of San Benedetto
Its name, used since the Seventeenth century, is an accretive of the Latin term rosa, which suggests its similarity to the structure of the flower. The rose, whose freshness and beauty suggests an ethereal symbol, also recalls the chalice of Christ.
In the Divine Comedy, in the XXXI canto of Paradise, Dante evokes the celestial rose that gathers in paradise the circle of the blessed admitted to contemplate God. The rose window is closely related to the circle, a symbol of perfection and therefore of God, but at the same time it is also the symbol of the labyrinth, which is created by the many plant motifs present within. The labyrinth recalls the inner search and the initiatory journey. It thus represents a link between the human and the divine worlds.
Church of San Francesco in Norcia
A tour in Valnerina
Umbria, a land of deep mysticism and spirituality, conceals in its territory the footsteps of the saints who changed the face of Christianity. It was in the green hills and highlands of Norcia that found the faith San Benedetto.
In the historic center of the city, stands the Basilica of San Benedetto, built at the birthplace of the saint and then enlarged in the Thirteenth century.
The facade, with a gabled profile, has at the bottom a splayed portal and is enriched at the top by a rose window, decorated with acanthus leaves and accompanied by the symbols of the four evangelists. Unfortunately the church was deeply damaged during the earthquake of 2016, but you can easily guess its ancient splendor.
Of great artistic and architectural interest is the church of San Francesco in Norcia, built entirely in white stone and completed by the Conventual Franciscans.
Valuable is the large rose window that dominates the façade: a frame made with rosettes and round arches, like a real embroidery, pierces the hard stone, revealing its deep meaning through the void of matter but full instead of the divine light.
A few kilometres from the homeland of San Benedetto, in Preci, stands the Hermitage of Sant’ Eutizio. The oldest part of the abbey dates back to the Ninth century and it was completed at the behest of Abbot Tendini I in 1190. The abbey bewitches the viewer as it is entirely built on a terrace between the cliff and the valley below. The rose window, a true jewel of sculpture, prevails over the structure of the church. It is a large circle surrounded by the symbols of theevangelists, typical of Romanesque architecture, but also bears fragments of early medieval sculpture.
Hermitage of Sant’Eutizio
Not far from Norcia another magnificent rose window dominates the facade of the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Vallo di Nera. The church dates back to 1176 and has a façade with stone conce typically Romanesque. It is distinguished by a Gothic portal with an ogive decorated with capitals and friezes and in the upper part a rose window punctuated by twelve columns perfectly in line, which seems to be reabsorbed in the wall.
City deeply linked to spirituality, but also to the symbol of the rose window and therefore to the rose itself: Cascia is a religious center linked to the figure of Saint Rita. In this village stands the church of San Francesco, where the Blessed Franciscan Peace was buried in 1270. A prominent element of the façade, made by Comacini masters, is the refined rose window, very particular because it is given by ingranaggio of the two opposing wheels that create a dynamic effect of rotation. It is composed of eighteen columns with capitals and eighteen trilobed arches, which converge towards the center where there is a Madonna with Child. All around acanthus leaves recall classic motifs. The delicacy of the inlay making this rose window is a true masterpiece of the regional sculptural art. The Umbrian Apennines are the silent guardian of the traces of saints and pilgrims, founders of hermitages inspired by the rules of poverty, solitude and simplicity.
A legend says that Saint Mauro, his son Felice and their nurse passed through Sant’Anatolia di Narco. The population asked Mauro for help to be freed from a dragon that infested those places. Saint Mauro, thanks to divine help, faced and killed the dragon. The episode of the liberation is depicted in the frieze of the façade. In it there is also the rose window, among the most interesting examples of Umbrian Romanesque sculpture, with two rows of columns, inscribed in a square with the apocalyptic symbols.
Church of San Francesco
The symbology of the facade is exemplary: the rose window represents Christ, who brings light to the world, identified with the Church, through the voice of the four evangelists who allowed the knowledge.
Finally, one of rose window most particular is that in the church of San Salvatore in Campi di Norcia. The tragic earthquake events of 2016 led to the collapse of much of the building and the destruction of the bell tower dating back to the sixteenth century. The remaining walls have been consolidated to secure the portions of frescoes that will be reinstated in the recovered parts.
Church of San Salvatore in Campi di Norcia.
The church, nestled in the Umbrian hills, is a rare example with two naves, with two doors and two rose windows, moreover not aligned with the line of the roof. Particularly interesting is the large outer ring of the rose window, carved with acanthus branches arranged in a sinuous spiral rotation. Basilicas, abbeys and small churches, surrounded by green Umbrian typical valleys, magical and mystical places at the same time, but also essential guides that help the visitor, spectator or hermit to grasp the purest and deepest part of Umbria. These and many other places give back precious jewels of a past time. Unfortunately many of them were deeply affected by the earthquake of a few years ago, but very often art and beauty conquer the silence that descends on the rubble, bringing these places back to their ancient beauty.
 Claudio Lanzi, Sedes Sapientiae The symbolic universe of cathedrals, Simmetria edizioni, Roma, 2009, pag. 162.⇑  M. Feuillet, Lexicon of Christian symbols, Edizioni Arkeios, Roma, 2006, p. 97-98.⇑  L. Zazzerini, Umbria Eremitica. Ubi silentium sit Deus, Edizioni LuoghInteriori, Città di Castello, 2019, pp. 124-131.⇑  L. Zazzerini, Umbria Eremitica. Ubi silentium sit Deus, Edizioni LuoghInteriori, Città di Castello, 2019, p. 109.⇑
Peel the onions, cut them into thin slices, roll them out on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. Leave them for a hour, then squeeze them well. Grease a not too high rectangular cake tin, arrange the bread dough in a no more than a centimeter layer and sprinkle the surface with washed and dried slices of onion and sage leaves. Sprinkle the surface of the flatbread pizza with a little olive oil and cook it in the oven at about 180 ° for 30-40 minutes. The white flatbread can be served both cold and hot.
The crushed onion – which in Città di Castello it is called pampassato – is known throughout Umbria. The white flatbread can be made with the onion only or with the leaves of rosemary and, in the absence of anything else, only with a little salt on the surface. In Norcia, where it was usually made together whith the bread and where it was also called “spianata”, next to the poorer versions (with salt, ciccioli or rosemary), it is matched with zucchini, tomatoes and sometimes potatoes.
The itinerary between the flavors and aromas of Valnerina continues with other products of this territory.
After lentils, honey and the Nera’s trout, let’s discover other local delicacies.
This is the story of some small colored seeds, two tenacious women and a glass jar. In 1998 Silvana and Geltrude, were reorganizing the cellar of their house, after the earthquake occured in 1979. On this occasion they found a dusty glass jar full of colored seeds, together with a faded sheet of paper with a mysterious name written in pencil: roveja. It is a legume which blossoms on the heights of the Central Apennines. Roveja is a small and heroic legume, a type of wild pea, often considered as a weed. It is now a Slow Food Presidium and it has survived thanks to Silvana and Geltrude. Since 2006 roveja has been restarting to grow and blossom in Valnerina.
Norcinerie of Valnerina, photo by Officine Creative Italiane
There is a craft in the heart of Valnerina, which preserves the identity of a territory and recalls its ancient traditions and memories: the “Norcino”. It finds its roots in the Pagan worships, in which the killing of pigs was the apex of agrarian rituals and marked an important periodo f the year.
The processing of pork meats is still a triumph of flavors and ancient feelings in Umbria. Over the centuries it has becomes the fulcrum of an impenetrable magical-superstitious tradition. It consists of identifying in some characteristics of the entrails of the slaughtered beasts, prophetic and revealing visions.
Saffron, photo by Officine Creative Italiane
The mystery which surrounds the etymology of the word Crocus Sativus, scientific name of the Saffron, is lost in the legend of the Crocco, one of the character of the Metamorphoses of Ovidio. He fell in love with the nymph Smilace and he was turned into a blond saffron flower. Symbol of prosperità, even today, the Crocus Sativus is presented as a long-life wish due to the therapeutic and aphrodisiac properties which are able to renew the body. It was used over the centuries, not only to obtain the yellow color destined to frescoes and to dye garments and fabrics, but also for cosmetic and medicinal purposes because of its properties.
The cultivation of Saffron is part of the Umbrian identity and history. It is something which preserves an important link with the human element: from the preparation of the soil, to the choice of bulbs passing through the moment of blossoming, until to the packaging of the final product.
Henry James, visiting Umbria, wrote: «His first [visitor] care will be not to be in a hurry to walk everywhere very slowly and aimlessly preserving all that his eyes will encounter».
A handful of words that inspires this itinerary among the flavors and aromas of Valnerina, significative elements of an Umbrian identity, which wants to tell its story. Authentic tastes which come back to life thorough valleys and ancient towns where the laboriousness of man is kept. Here it is possible to know the whises of the Umbrian people to reflect, at the table, the richeness of their land: this is the reason why we decided to discover the flavors of Valnerina.
The trout of the Nera river
The Nera river is like a primitive flow, which for millennia has tormented the sleep of the ancient bridges and stone of Valnerina. It has shaped this superb landscape, combining its name with the territory and becoming an incomparable icon of Umbria. Valnerina is a place where biodiversity resists to the agri-food chains that aim to bury stories of the fishermen, worn by the Nera and its breeze. And it is precisely in this context that the river drags downstream the trout of the Valnerina, considered as a trophy by the fishermen coming from everywhere.
In Valnerina, the journey through the lands of taste can continue, crossing one of the many passes and borders and finding different souls and unexpected aromas. Visitng small companies that produce ancient flavors, such as honey, allows the visitor to meet people, faces and stories. Buying directly from the producers, at zero km, not only guarantees the quality, but also allows to follow an itinerary along the paths of an uncontaminated landscape. This part of Umbria has a strong voction for this noble nectar both precious and appreciated, which has flourished, with renewed and lively enthusiasm, derived from the source of an ancient tradition.
IGP lentils of Castelluccio
If there was a night of the gastronomy Oscars, on the red carpet of taste and tradition, the Umbrian excellences would win more than one award. But if there is an award that certainly can not miss is that for the lentils of Castelluccio di Norcia: a product in which archaic tastes are exhibited, with an extraordinarily modern charm.
Castelluccio di Norcia, a poor land with healthy products, would be the closing title of this short film about the Umbria of genuineness. In the “tradition casting”, the main role belongs to the famous lentil, legume, that in the cold of the Apennine Mountains ‘ winter, manages to preserve an incomparable quality. A food proudly made in Valnerina that, in the shyness of an extraordinarily small seed, hides an infinitely large flavor.
Put a pot with salt water on the stove and, when it boils, add the prawns. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until they have turned red; drain and let it cool. In the meantime, chop mint, parsley, marjoram and garlic, mix with oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. Remove the shell, then the intestines; place them in a bowl, season with the sauce and serve.
This recipe belongs from the area of Terni, where there is Piediluco lake. In Norcia and in Foligno, people made fried shrimps instead: tails, once clean, are fried in hot oil, salt and pepper. In areas where water offered shrimp, those who fished them put them in large buckets and then passed through the streets of the city to sell them.
Blend ricotta with a fork, add the eggs, sugar, arckermes, rum and cinnamon. Prepare, with the eggs, flour and a pinch of salt, a normal phyllo dough; make ravioli. Boil and season with cinnamon and sugar.
The sweet ravioli in Norcia – or, as they call them in that city, cravioli – were served in winter, for Carnival, sometimes as a dessert, others as a single dish, others as a first course. They could also be fried; in this case they are cold-served.
«The game that satisfied me the most? The one in favor of the people of Norcia hit by the earthquake».
More than two hundred matches in A Series, international referee since 2007 – 2017 was his last season because he reached age limits – seventeen years of activity with the debut in the top flight in 2003 and Élite Uefa referee since 2012. These are the numbers of PaoloTagliavento, the most representative whistle in Umbria and beyond. During the game, he is strict, in order to guide the twenty-two players; on the contrary, with us he is easy-going and kind. He is an Umbrian proud of his land.
What is your bond with Umbria and with Terni?
It is a very strong bond, because I was born in Terni, I grown up there and I still live there. I love my region and I am very fond of the people I have lived with and who have been part of my childhood.
Do you think that Umbria is a region that is “out of the game”, cut off from other realities?
For the position it has, it’s a bit cut off because of its infrastructures. For example, I often use the car for my travels. Fiumicino is not far, so I also take the plane when I leave far away, while the train is not really comfortable. In some ways, being a little out of nowhere can be an advantage, because you can experience peace and tranquility.
If Umbria was a football rule, what would it be?
The edge. Which is a special rule: when you apply it makes the game more bearable. The edge of Umbria is in its landscapes, food and life.
Is there a game that you always wanted to referee but you has not done yet?
I could say the final of the World Cup, because it is the dream of any referee and few people get there. Instead, I will tell you the game that satisfied me the most: a charity game after the earthquake of 2016, which was held in Norcia between actors and civil protection personnel. It was something concrete for Umbria and it made me very proud.
The Umbrians are accused of being narrow-minded, do you recognize yourself in this stereotype?
No, it never happened to me. Perhaps in the northern part of Umbria they are more narrow minded than Terni, which is influenced by the Roman way of living.
Are there in Umbria young referees who could reach your level?
There is an excellent school of arbitration assistants, who have reached good levels. As for the referees in the Lega Pro and Series D there is someone for it could make their way.
What would you recommend?
I would advise him to give its best, always. To have passion and to make sacrifices, because only in this way we can reach these levels. Passion is the driving force, but it is not enough. It also takes commitment and hunger to reach the goal. This profession should be put a little in front of everything. The funnel is very tight and few come in the A series. But I would also recommend to have fun and enjoy.
How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Beautiful, unique, open-minded.
The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…
As has already happened before, but in this case, it comes from a small strip of wounded land in the heart of the “Heart of Italy”. A sprout of future for Italy and Europe.
Four documentaries, four stories about Valnerina’s rebirth. A year after the earthquake that hit central Italy, four documentaries, written, produced and realized with the Restartproject. ComunitàResistenti by MenteGlocale – permanent laboratory of social communication, based in Perugia – tell the stories of a land, the Umbrian Valnerina, which reacted to the earthquake’s material and moral damages.
Norcia, Campi, Cascia, Ruscio: the earthquake struck the populations touching them in the affections, in the habits and in the small and great security of everyday life. These mountaineers were injured but not defeated, and in some cases they were able to react to the difficulties by rolling up their sleeves. Written by Filippo Costantini, Giorgio Vicario and Daniele Suraci, who has also directed and edited the Restart project. Comunità Resistenti, it was created with the contribution of CorecomUmbria, through the 2017 Community TV competition.
The four docu-films
The four docu-films try to tell the stories of these territories, the stories little known or that few tell. People and places are the protagonists, who go beyond the earthquake and try to roll up their sleeves to start over and move on.
Born in November 2016 in Norcia, inside a field tent, the Montanari Testoni association was promoted by a group of young people from the territory to face together the adversities related to the earthquake. It was created to talk and discuss the personal and collective situation and to propose activities of participation, sharing, collaboration and cultural promotion dedicated to the inhabitants of Norcia. From a collection center for food and clothes, a real social center, the container has hosted in recent months – and continues to do so – condominium meetings, workshops for children, film clubs and much more, until the rehearsals of the famous Corale di Norcia, left without a seat, and has now become a fundamental reference point for the entire nursery community.
Sisters of Cascia
In Cascia, after the shock of October 30th, 2016, several buildings became unusable, but except for a few cases there were no collapses. For security reasons, for the first time in the history of Cascia the Basilica of Santa Rita was closed and the Augustinian cloistered nuns had to leave the monastery, returning after a few weeks. They tell the life in the Cloistered Monastery of the Sisters of Cascia and the relationship between the Casciani and Saint Rita: in a Cascia hit by the earthquake the icon of the Saint is a concrete presence of hope for the future.
Ruscio is a small fraction of the Municipality of Monteleone di Spoleto composed by two-storey houses, historical buildings, three churches, two squares, a bridge and many fountains. The village develops along a single road cut by a bridge that divides Ruscio above from Ruscio below. The fraction, where there are permanently seventy people, has not suffered much damage. The material signs of the recent earthquakes are there, but they are not very strong: the most evident damages are in people and are linked to the fear of depopulation, to the fear that at least for a few years it will no longer be the same. Every year in the summer the rusciari scattered in the world return to the small Umbrian village to spend their holidays, repopulating houses that for most of the year are carefully guarded by the few stable inhabitants of the country. On August 24th the traditional Rusciari Dinner is celebrated, an indispensable moment to say goodbye before returning to their places of residence. In 2016, due to the earthquake, the dinner was canceled.
Back to Campi is the dream of Roberto Doctormonster Sbriccoli, bricklayer-dj of Campi, a fraction of the Municipality of Norcia strongly affected by the shocks of 2016. The upper part of the village is red zone, all the houses are unusable, and several are collapsed. Between the upper and lower parts of the village stands the headquarters of the Pro Loco, a structure inaugurated just four days before the earthquake of August 24th, 2016 and built by the inhabitants of Campi – ed by Doctormonster. A class four anti-seismic structure that was immediately used as an emergency reception center. In the weeks following the shock, it hosted up to ninety people, proving to be fundamental for shelter and assistance. Animator and coordinator of the space was Docmonster, who is also the president of the Pro Loco. These were difficult days, full of discouragement and nervousness, but that place was fundamental. Today many of the inhabitants of Campi live in the newly delivered containers and wooden houses. Docmonster has a dream called Back to Field, a € 4 million project that aims to build a multi-purpose center for tourism and sport on a newly acquired site by Pro Loco. It is a project that aims to provide a complete and equipped with all the services to those who will be on vacation in the summer (before the earthquake many people choose this place for summer holidays) in these areas and has the ambition to be a multi-purpose center for pre-season retreats of the teams of different sports. Docmonster took it upon himself to realize this project.
A route made of byroads, paths, riverbanks and perched villages. This is what the Greenway is about.
A pedestrian and cycle path has been created in the green heart of Valnerina, with the aim of letting people know and live these places which have been neglected far too long. It is a 180-kilometre ring dedicated to nature lovers. It is not too difficult nor too challenging and allows the wanderers to enjoy the landscape along the Nera River and its outfalls as well as the local cultural aspect, which can be appreciated while crossing the historical villages.
The Greenway has been thought to promote Valnerina and the area belonging to the mountain community. However, there is more. It started, indeed, as a real environmental emergency, to preserve the landscape while exploiting its huge potential, but respecting its ecological balance at the same time. Thus, it has become a straightforward learning tool about nature and its articulate shapes, the place where a creative and engaging approach can be experimented to attract new forms of tourism and knowledge of the territory.
The first step to connect the visitor to the territory has been identifying and arranging an alternative route, which you can either walk or ride on a bike or a horse. The starting point is at Marmore Waterfall, which is also the arrival point. It is a ring completely immersed in greenery, which allows the tourist to enter an unchartered world made of green paths and enchanting villages. Thus, in a place beloved by Lord Byron and all the other travellers who revered the Grand Tour, you can set off on a long route partly formed by chartered paths: Benedectine trails, the Via Francigena, and the former Spoleto-Norcia railway.
From the Marmore Falls to the fork to Preci it is possible to walk along the Nera. The left bank of the river is entirely viable and is one of the most interesting dirt roads of central Italy. From there it is possible to take a mountain trail which has been connected and which crosses Preci, Norcia, Cascia, Monteleone di Spoleto, Salto del Cieco, Piediluco, Prati di Stroncone and then goes back to the Waterfall going though Campacci di Marmore (The upper Belvedere).
As a ring, the Greenway can be followed one way or the other. As to make it accessible to anybody, it has been divided into sixteen stretches, each of them a ring itself, so that it is easier for the travellers to go back to the starting point without having to follow the same route. Many of the stretches along the river, from the Falls to Preci, are mostly flat even though the mountainous ones on the way back to the Fall can present quite challenging climbs. Yet, these can be avoided by choosing the alternative paved and low-traffic routes. Each of these routes is five to twenty-two kilometres long. By joining several trails, you can plan a journey any length you like. Each route, clearly indicated by signposts, goes through residential areas where public services are provided. Moreover, along the route all the paths that take to the protected natural areas are clearly signalled.
A trip for everybody
The Greenway is a route accessible to everybody. It is completely safe as it is dedicated to non-motorised users and it grants access to anyone thanks to the so-called “soft-traffic”, which allows the tourists to enjoy the area they are crossing slowly as to observe the surrounding landscape in all its aspects.