Historically an agricultural region, Umbria was once very careful in managing this precious, though abundant, resource. The countryside is still thick with canals, cisterns, fountains, and mills, many in a state of picturesque decay as modern irrigation methods have led to their abandonment. Last weekend, an intrepid group of walkers–led by two local experts, Ivo Bartolucci and Roberto Luchetti–in the rolling hills outside the aptly-named Acquasparta set out to discover the “lost mills of the Naia Creek”.
Despite the threat of rain, the group explored the quiet countryside surrounding the town of Acquasparta, starting at the site known locally as the Molinaccio (or old mill), scaling the hills between San Manno and Martorelli, then descending past the Furapane spring and the Molinella (or small mill) to the Santa Cecilia mill, where–this is Umbria, after all–everyone was able to sample some local olive oil and cheese.
Not only a lovely hike, the route was also a mini-course in the importance of the bubbling Naia and its mills, irrigation ponds, and canals, all of which were central to the thriving farming culture which once dominated this area. Acquasparta is promoting a number of these “educational hikes” over the next few months as part of a campaing aimed at highlighting not only the natural beauty of this area of Umbria, but also its local history and culture. Stay tuned!Rebecca