Wild flowers turn Italian plain into impressionist masterpiece

CASTELLUCCIO, Italy (Reuters) - The view across the Castelluccio plain in central Italy could be mistaken for a painting by Claude Monet: a blur of color created by countless wild flowers growing among the crops.

Sharing the land with the region’s famed lentils - Castelluccio’s small, brown pulses are prized by chefs around the world - poppies, daisies and cornflowers provide a floral carpet that has become an annual tourist attraction.

“The flowers that sprout are wild. They were brought here over time by the old threshing machines which were used elsewhere for lentils, wheat or spelt,” said farmer Antonio Barcaroli at his lentil stand at a local market.

“Then little by little they settled here colonizing (the plain) and they sprout together with the lentils.”

The flowers are not only pretty. Their stems help prop up the fragile lentil plants.

The area is recovering from an earthquake that ripped up access roads in 2016, harming that season’s crop.

For Italian tourist Renato Bartolucci, the now peaceful scene is an “earthly paradise”.

“Really. If you are a believer, here you will find an even greater closeness to God.”

Writing by Robin Pomeroy; editing by John Stonestreet