Once upon a time, back in 1861, the census counted 2,322 residents. In 2011, the local population was of 578 inhabitants. It has always been small, yet it is an amazing gem full of big surprises: Fiastra is a tiny medieval village in a verdant valley of the Monti Sibillini National Park in the Marche region. The off-the-beaten-path destination is particularly ideal for families and nature-sport lovers.
Fiastra is nestled in the hills of the Sibillini Mountains National Park, in the upper valley of the Fiastrone River. In past centuries, this municipality and its valley welcomed many religious people who found its isolation ideal for meditation. Bearing witness to this are the Grotta dei Frati (or “Friars’ Cave”), the Sanctuary of the Blessed Ugolino and the Romanesque Church of St Paul. Around Fiastra, and in the Sibillini Park in general, there is a dense network of holy paths created by pilgrims and saints.
Fiastra is actually a commune made of small hamlets, including Fiegni, Polverina, Ruffella, San Lorenzo al Lago and Trebbio, among others. Its lands boast the mesmerizing Lago di Fiastra, a jewel amid the mountains. It is a large artificial lake formed by the construction of an impressive dam measuring 86 meters high and 360 meters long.
The Monti Sibillini National Park comprises the most elevated mountainous group in the Umbro-Marchigiano Apennines. Its highest peak, Monte Vettore, reaches 8,132 ft above sea level. Fiastra is located at around 730 meters a.s.l.
A bit of history
According to some, the origin of the name “Fiastra” derives from the ancient name of a local river, while others claim that when the Germanic peoples descended in the area they called it “Flatsch” (valley), which eventually became the present-day name.
Fiastra’s origins are remote. Archaeological evidence – including urns, coins, terracotta items and statues – dates the presence of humans back to the Neolithic age. The riches of the woods, the presence of water courses and the fertile lands for cultivations and pasture, made this an attractive area for settlements.
Following the destructive invasions of the Goths, the Langobards and the Barbarians, locals were forced to leave the level ground and to move inland, where they built small medieval hamlets of the hills. Most villages had their own defensive castle. One of these – the ruins of which you can still admire today – is the Castello di Fiastra that flourished under the Signoria of the Malagotti in the XII century.
In the following centuries, Fiastra and surroundings were ruled by different entities, including Count Ranieri Baschi, the noble Varano Family, Francesco Sforza and the Papal States, before being annexed into the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.
Eco-Tourism in Fiastra
The intense-blue lake and the beautiful green lands around Fiastra are a nature paradise where you can enjoy a number of eco-friendly activities all-year round.
Families with children particularly enjoy relaxing boat rides to explore the lake’s hidden bays under the Ruffella cliff and the Fiastrone river. The silent electric motor allows you to listen to the sounds of nature! During the warm seasons, there is a small beach were you sunbathe and swim!
For the more active groups, there is an adventure park complete with a canopy walkway among trees, a zip-line across the lake and a “monkey bridge”!
Archery is another favorite eco-friendly activity that mixes both precision and relaxation. Beginners can participate in one or more lessons with an expert teacher, learning about the technique of instinctive shooting and practicing in an idyllic setting between the woods and the Sibillini Mountains.
Older children (7+) and adults who dream of flying, will not resist the temptation to enjoy tandem paragliding with a professional instructor. You get to admire the panoramas from above, just like a bird, and if you wish the experience can be filmed for you.
While the area is a fantastic option for trekking and hiking in nature and along spiritual paths throughout the seasons, during winter it is also possible to enjoy cross-country skiing and ciaspolate (walks with traditional snowshoes).
Finally, in little gems like Fiastra you get to continue your learning and fun experience even in your “hotel”. The area is dotted with rustic agriturismi, working farms that offer accommodation in stone buildings full of character. The entire family can explore the didactic farm and learn about farming, the food cycle, rural crafts, and animal and vegetable life. These authentic farms are also the perfect venue for creative events such as destination weddings, corporate retreats and family reunions.