Category Archives: Umbria – Nature Photos

Sun It Rises

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Early to rise, pale morning wrapped in mist….

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Over the mountains the sun it rises.  Shadow dancing, peeping, creeping….

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….the light painting the cloud-cloak a rich gold….

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A burnished halo, breathtaking, fleeting….

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Elusive still. The sun is up, the cock crows, the church bells peal. Come now, awaken the town with the promise of another day!

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Feels Like Summer

Mountain walking, breathtaking….

Monte Subasio - view

Lonely pine, view-making….

Monte Subasio - view

Summer flowers, colour perfect….

Monte Subasio - Wild Flowers

Monte Subasio - Wild Flowers

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Sun-warmed stones, just right for landing….

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….and expanding….

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Dressed a little conservatively for Summer?

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Unlike the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly….

Monte Subasio - Wild Flowers & Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly

Dressed to impress! See how he deceives the eye – wings look upside down on this butterfly….

Monte Subasio - Wild Flowers & Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly

Trees can dress up too….

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But can they see you?

Monte Subasio - tree, lichen, ivy

Sun-dappled fig leaves form a canopy, welcome shade…

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Dancing bells – or are they church bells echoing around the mountainside?

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Or the luncheon bell? A perfect picnic spot, is it not?

Monte Subasio - view from picnic spot

Buzzing….

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Humming…

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Hiding….

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The wondrous shapes of nature….

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A glorious thistle….

Monte Subasio - Wild Flowers

A huge aloe reaches upwards, waiting to flower….

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A brave snail walks a wavering tightrope….

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Wild fennel scents the air with its aniseed aroma….

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Perfect nature on a perfect day.

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Free Falling

Remember that sketch from Monty Python’s Life of Brian – “What did the Romans ever do for us?” The response was a long list, including roads, sanitation, education, medicine, peace, wine and irrigation. Well, yesterday we visited a fine legacy of a Roman irrigation project at the Cascata della Marmore (Marmore Waterfall) near Terni. At 165 metres, it is the highest man-made waterfall in Europe. Set in a lush, green park of forests and gorges, it is a breathtakingly beautiful sight.

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. As we arrived - a gentle fall...

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. As we arrived – a gentle fall…

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. A trickle...

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. A trickle…

In 217BC, the Romans dug a canal to divert the water from the swampy, stagnant River Velino over the Marmore cliff and into the River Nera which runs below it. The channels have been modified several times over the years in order to better direct the flow of water; the last significant alterations were in the 1930s.

For over 50 years the powerful waters have been redirected to fuel the largest hydroelectric plant in Italy. This means that the majority of the water is only released over the falls at certain times during the day, so it is important to check the timetable before a visit. At this time of year the water is released for just an hour, twice a day. Surprisingly, there were no crowds on a very sunny and warm morning. It could not have been more perfect.

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. Flowing into the River Nera...

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. Flowing into the River Nera…

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The Marmore Falls were a feature of the Grand Tour, which was at its height in the 17th to 19th centuries. Young English noblemen and intellectuals would complete their education with extended European travel and Italy, with its historical and artistic treasures, was a prime destination. The rainbow that can often be seen at the Falls was considered to be one of the great marvels of the Italian leg of the Grand Tour.

The site inspired many artists and poets, including (moving seamlessly from Life of Brian to Life of Byron) Lord Byron. His 19th century poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage contains several stanzas relating to his visit to the Marmore Falls. Since he described it much more eloquently than I can, the quotations below are his.

There are 2 main vantage points: the upper and lower belvederes. Only the lower belvedere provides a view of all 3 drops of the Falls, so we stationed ourselves there to await the rush of water. A siren wailed to warn spectators of the impending torrent, and the sound of water filled our expectant ears.

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. In full flow...

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. Gaining power…

“The roar of waters from the headlong height..”

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. In full flow...

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. In full flow…

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. In full flow...

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. The highest drop in full flow…

“The fall of waters, rapid as the light..”

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria

At times the spray almost obscured the highest drop.

“And mounts in spray the skies, and thence again returns in an unceasing shower..”

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“The hell of waters! Where they howl and hiss and boil in endless torture.”

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria

When we had marvelled at the sight for some time, we took one of several trails leading up and around the waterfall in order to see a different perspective. We passed a small pond, green and still, with the sound of frogs croaking competing with the steady roar of the water. As we got closer, the spray soaked our clothing and the noise increased.

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Higher and higher we climbed, until we were 40 meters from the ground. The droplets of water sparkled in the sunlight, and suddenly we saw the rainbow below us!

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. Rainbow!

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria. Rainbow!

Someone once described the water as looking like bridal veils; you can see why below.

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria

Marmore Waterfall, Umbria

Back down then, to see the waters slow and fade again to a trickle, an equally beautiful sight.

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“A matchless cataract, horribly beautiful..” Lord Byron

Battlefield

Leaving Castiglione del Lago, we headed north around Lake Trasimeno to the town of Tuoro, which is unremarkable other than it was close to the site of the Battle of Trasimeno which took place during the 2nd Punic Wars.

The Battle was fought on 21 June 217 BC between the Roman army, under Gaius Flaminius, and the Carthaginian troops, led by Hannibal. Hannibal planned a massive ambush of the Roman army along the shore of the Lake. Here, a narrow lakeside passage opened out into a confined plain, restricting the Romans’ ability to adopt their normal battle formations. Under cover of a morning mist, once the Roman troops were contained on the narrow plain with their rear blocked by Carthaginian cavalry, Hannibal’s men poured down from the heavily forested hills and routed the enemy. Hannibal 1, Rome 0.

Hannibal preparing for battle. Well, it was difficult to get a photo.....

Hannibal preparing for battle. Well, it was difficult to get a photo…..

It is estimated that around 15,000 Romans were killed that day, whilst Hannibal lost around 2,500. Hannibal almost suceeded in overpowering Rome and he was Rome’s biggest threat for many years. Although he eventually lost the Punic Wars, Hannibal is today remembered as one of the finest generals in ancient military history, and the Battle of Lake Trasimeno is considered to be an outstanding example of military tactics.

And if you are wondering what happened to Hannibal’s famous elephants, most of them died during the harsh, northern Italian winter.

Fired up by tales of derring-do, we continued on to Passignano sul Trasimeno, built on a rocky promontory overlooking the Lake.

Passignano sul Trasimeno

Passignano sul Trasimeno

The centre of Passignano still retains its medieval walls, but there is little left of the old town other than the remains of La Rocca di Passignano, a fortress dating from the V-VI centuries, due to bombing during the second World War.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, La Rocca

Passignano sul Trasimeno, La Rocca

The more modern town has sprawled to the Lake’s edge and attracts tourists mainly because of its access to the Lake’s islands by boat.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Ferry Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Ferry Boats

Fishing – both commercial and for leisure – is also carried out here. Tench, eel, pike, carp and perch are all found in the Lake.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Fishing Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Fishing Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Fishing Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Fishing Boats

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Gone Fishing!

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Gone Fishing!

There is also a small but pretty marina.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Marina

Passignano sul Trasimeno, Marina

There were few boats out on the water…

Passignano sul Trasimeno, sailing.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, sailing.

Passignano sul Trasimeno, sailing

Passignano sul Trasimeno, sailing

It’s not difficult to idle away a few hours just looking….

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Passignano sul Trasimeno, misty view over Lake Trasimeno

There were lots of ducks, birds and various other wildlife on and around the Lake.

Duck, Lake Trasimeno

Duck, Lake Trasimeno

How green is this lizard? Lake Trasimeno

How green is this lizard? Lake Trasimeno

Right Mabel - let's get those 2 tourists down there...!

Right Mabel – let’s get those 2 tourists down there…!

Mini Adventures, Lake Trasimeno, Italy

Mini Adventures, Lake Trasimeno, Italy

Roll on the next adventure!

Floral Dance

Nature wears her prettiest gowns….

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Spello to Collepino trek: flora

Sky-blue, can’t be blue….

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Unfolding, witholding….

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Sun is bright, virgin white….

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Butterflies flutter by….

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Coal black beetle, iridescent; dressed for dinner – most impressive!

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Wild herbs pungent in the heat, had to bring some home to eat.

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Cricket in the olive tree, what a perfect place to be….

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