07 September 2010 Published in Le Marche Itineraries

VissoVisso is the mountain home of the Parco Nazionale del Monti Sibillini or National Park of Monti Sibillini in the province of Macerata in Le Marche near the Umbria border. It has a rich historical and natural history and should be visited.

The town is a model of medieval and Renaissance planning full of imposing walls, little balconies, mansions, house towers and stone portals. The whole area surrounds two main and connected central squares. Urban perfection.

The setting is a hollow at the confluence of five valleys at just over 600 meters above sea level. The surrounding hills lead to the monstrous profile of the Sybillines close to the horizon.

Visso dates back to the 13th century BC. Conquered by the Romans in 290BC it was named Vicus Elacensis and became a type of rural resort along the river banks. It was annexed to the Spoleto Duchy in 570 and two centuries later to Castaldato of Ponte.

The townsfolk lived inside the towns walls until the 12th century when the parish church was built near the confluence of the valleys.

As people moved outwards large defensive towers were built and can still be seen. Suddenly, Visso found a voice and became a comune.

The confidence of the burghers turned them into warlike bullies and the town was soon fighting with neighboring territories.

'The Battle of the Lost Plain' is a poem which recounts the loss of Norcia to the Visso thugs in 1522.

The church, always quick to spot a potential ally, granted the city the use of the papal keys in 1433.

Pope Gregorio XIII made Visso seat of a Governatorate in 1583 within the Umbrian Apostolic League. Visso passed from Umbria to Marche in 1860 with the unification of the Italian League.

The local menu is sturdy and straightforward, not unlike the inhabitants. Strong and genuine tastes such as 'ciauscolo' a sausage prepared with minced, spiced up meat.

Sheep's milk cheese is also popular as well as mountain lentils. River trout and black truffles provide the glamour.

The typical food in Visso is the vincigrassi pasta (lasagna), ciauscolo salumi, the cheeses and the trout from the Nera River.