The National Park of the Sibylline Mountains
Instituted in 1997, with a surface area of about 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres), the National Park of the Sibylline Mountains was born from the great project to safeguard an environmental, historic, and religious heritage of certain and inestimable greatness. “A park for everybody”, because anyone can in some way enjoy the speckled and dappled scenes that this park is able to offer.
The dozen mountains that rise over 2000 meters (6500 feet), of which Vettore is the undisputed master, make a frame around the woods of oak, black hornbeam, flowering ash and beech that color the scenery below 1000 meters (3200 feet). But these are not but some of the 1800 vegetable species that researchers have identified in this zone: the alpine star, so rare and beautiful that it speaks for itself as a true and proper jewel of nature, the alpine windflower, the campion, the pioneer violet, the Bear’s grape...and still others, as far as the heart of the curious and the impassioned is ready to lead you.
Obviously, in such a rich natural panorama, fauna finds a perfect natural habitat, giving us the spectacular flight of the golden eagle, the long howl of the wolf, the curious pleading of the porcupine, the rarity of the marten, the elegance of the roe-buck. There are fifty species of mammals that live in perfect synthesis with such an environment: one hundred fifty birds (among which, besides the golden eagle, we find the goshawk, the hawk, the Peregrine falcon, the Eurasian eagle owl, the rock partridge, the wallcreeper, the snow finch, the Alpine chough, the Eurasian dotterel, the Rufous-tailed rock thrush, the Alpine accentor...) and more than twenty species of reptiles and invertebrates. This is a heritage with which one can truly live every day with the peace and spontaneity that only the green of the Sibyllines is able to give.
In general, the National Park of the Sibylline Mountains tends to be divided into 4 distinct sections:
HISTORIC SECTION: centered exclusively in the section of the High Nera;
FLOWER SECTION: the most northern section of the park;
MYSTIC SECTION: up high, among the highest peaks, where the prophesying Sibyll dwelt, and Pontius Pilate was thrown into the lake along the slopes of Mt. Vettore;
HOLY SECTION: of which Norcia and Preci are the principal poles.
Many are the itineraries that one can undertake among these valleys and up through our mountains, in search of legendary places, of the rarest animals, of the most beautiful flowers... or simply to breathe, once again, uncontaminated air.
For more information, visit: http://www.vetustanursia.com
Norcia, older than Rome, Norcia, among walls and nature, among memories and traditions. It is in the pre-Roman period (before 753 B.C.), that Norcia fully establishes its origins, assuming the characteristics of a community of villages where the classification between man and woman was marked and the economy merely one of sustenance.
Sabine Norcia, because the region from which it springs is Sabine. Geographically speaking, Norcia is found on the northeast side of this region, a territory poor in natural resources but certainly most important on the strategic level. The principal agricultural crop was spelt (a type of wheat), a grain still common today in the area; olive groves and vineyards were also abundant. Unfortunately, the nature of this agriculture was often insufficient in sustaining the people, thus the Sabines had to assume the characteristic of a migratory people in search of more fertile lands and pastures. As regards the cult of the dead, the Sabines were a burying people: the dear departed were interred underground to reunite them with mother earth, in what could be defined as a permanent conception.
As already stated, Norcia occupied a strategic position that, soon enough, came to interest the great power of Rome. In fact, scholars affirm that the first contact between Sabines and Romans was had already in ancient times at the dawning of Roman civilization, to be followed later by the well-known Rape of the Sabines: Romulus, the historical founder of Rome, was the brother of Remus and son of Mars and Rhea (etymologically close to the Sabine name, Rieti).
In 290 B.C., Norcia was already fully in the Roman orbit, even if it still had not been totally absorbed by the Roman Empire. The great and important Roman conquests arrived simultaneously with the development of Norcia, left free to her own devices; in a certain sense, she belonged by right to Roman history for the common history that they shared. The first significant break between the Romans and the Sabines of Norcia happened when Rome decided to declare war against the people of Samnium, the region immediately next to the Sabine territories. For unknown reasons, the Sabine leaders, during this conflict, gave free access to their lands to the Samnites, contradicting Roman power. In 290 B.C., the weak defenses of Norcia were overthrown and Norcia definitively conquered. Norcia was then reorganized according to the “uniform model of Romanization”, but its good conduct and the unconditional submission during the conquest guaranteed liberty and the obtaining of Roman citizenship in 268 B.C.
In 476 A.D., the Roman Empire fell, beginning a new period in history known as the Medieval. Norcia fit in with difficulty in this new context, above all because, in that period, earthquakes rent the architectural structure of the city. The Lombards absorbed Norcia into the Duchy of Spoleto, reorganizing, among other things, the preexisting urban order, dividing Norcia into neighborhoods, each having a piazza, a source of water and a church.
In 1291, there was the first Republic of Norcia, better known as S.P.Q.N., represented by a coat of arms: a lion rampant that still today is the principal symbol of Norcia.
The City of Norcia had its origin, probably, in the organization of laborers, artisans and merchants and, after its birth, it created Statutes for itself.
The period of the magistrate of the “Podestà” followed, and was supplanted, briefly, by a new figure: the “Captain of the People”, a six-month long appointment that enjoined an oath of fidelity to the Republic of Norcia. It was in this time period that the city walls were rebuilt and the importance given to the individual neighborhoods was returned, giving also, among other things, new breath to the existing churches.