Love Touring Italy - The Marche Region by Levi Reiss
If you are looking for a European
tourist destination, you should consider the Marche region of central Italy.
Depending on your specific interests, it is an ideal vacation spot. You
can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. And
the Marche region hasn't yet been discovered by tourists. There's a tradeoff;
you won't have to push aside the crowds to see what you want to see. On
the other hand, you'll have a hard time finding fancy hotels. And the roads
are not always the best, not much of a surprise when you consider the region's
hilly terrain. We'll start our tour of this region in the north and work
our way south.
|The little town of Urbino,
formerly a major center of learning, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The
University has about twenty thousand students, considerably more than Urbino's
resident population of approximately fifteen thousand. How do you say town
and gown in Italian?
Given that the great Renaissance
painter Raphael was an Urbino native, it's not very surprising that this
town is home to the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche (National Gallery of
The Marche) located in the Palazzo Ducale (Duke's Palace). Would you believe
that this beautiful Renaissance building doesn't contain much of his work?
On the other hand, you can find Titian's Resurrection and Last Supper there.
The Casa Natale di Raffaello (Birthplace of Raphael) includes a Madonna
fresco that is definitely associated with Raphael. But experts don't know
whether he painted it himself or if in fact his father painted it and Raphael
and his mother sat as models. The city also contains several Renaissance
churches worth visiting.
Ancona is a port city that
was largely destroyed during World War II. But there still are some sights
worth seeing including alleys, streets, and city squares. The Duomo di
San Ciriaco (Saint Ciriaco Cathedral) was built during the Twelfth Century
over a Greek Temple.
The Romanesque Santa Maria
della Piazza also dates from the Twelfth Century but includes mosaics from
a Fifth Century church that it replaced. All these structures are modern
compared to the Second Century Arco di Triano (Trajan's Arch) which announced
to all and sundry that they were approaching Rome's most important port
on the Adriatic Sea.
Loreto on the Adriatic Sea
is home to a popular shrine, the Santuario della Santa Casa (House of the
Virgin Mary) which some say was transported from the city of Nazareth in
1295 to keep it out the hands of the Muslim invaders. The peak pilgrimage
periods are Easter week and the Feast of the Holy House on December 10th.
Ascoli Piceno is a valley
town of about fifty thousand people. It's great for pedestrians because
cars are forbidden in a large part of the city center. You'll want to see
the Piazza del Populo (Square of the People) and the Thirteenth Century
Palazzo dei Capitani del Populo (Palace of the People's Captains) that
now serves as a Town Hall. and the Gothic church San Franceso (Saint Francis).
There are several other historic churches. You should really vistit Ascoli
Piceno on the first Sunday in August. That's the day the local residents
celebrate the city's patron saint, Saint Emidio, with a parade of over
900 people dressed in Renaissance costume. After the parade there's a jousting
tournament, Giastra della Quintana, in which six richly costumed knights,
representing the city's six neighborhoods, compete one after the other
facing the effigy of a Moor warrior.
What about food? The Marches
has many regional specialties, for example Prosciutto di Carpegna, a ham
produced near the border of Tuscany, and Vitellone Bianco dell'Appennino
Centrale (White Veal of the Central Appenines). The Adriatic coast brings
its bounty. One local brodetto (fish soup) is properly made with over a
dozen kinds of fish and seafood.
Let's suggest a sample menu,
one of many. Start with Minestra (Chickpea Soup with Pork Ribs and grated
Pecorino Cheese). Then try Quaglie in Tegame (Braised Quails with White
Wine and Salt Pork). For dessert indulge yourself with Fristenga (Cake
with Figs, Raisins, and Walnuts). Be sure to increase your dining pleasure
by including local wines with your meal.
We'll conclude with a quick
look at Marche wine. The Marche ranks 12th among the 20 Italian regions
for acreage devoted to wine grapes and 10th for total annual wine production.
When you read between the lines these numbers indicate that the Marche's
wine output per acre is heavier than the Italian average, not a promising
sign for fine wine. Somewhat more than a third of the local wine is red
and almost twenty percent of Marche wine is classified as DOC or DOCG wine,
described below. The Marche produces thirteen DOC wines. DOC stands for
Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination
of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine. It is the home of
two DOCG (the G stands for Guarantita) red wines, the Montepulciano-Sangiovese
based Rosso Conero Riserva and the Vernaccia di Serrapetrona based on a
local grape. Be careful not to confuse the red Vernaccia wine with the
white Verdicchio wine.
/ Marches Featured Self-Catering
About the Author - Levi Reiss
has authored alone or with a co-author ten books on computers and the Internet
but he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied
by the right foods. He knows about dieting but now eats and drinks what
he wants, in moderation. He teaches various computer classes in an Ontario
French-language community college. His new wine, diet, health, and nutrition
website http://www.wineinyourdiet.com links to his other sites.