Subject: Italy trip: Marche area, Giacomo Leopardi, food and places
Hello to All Italy Lovers on the Zine,

this is a report of our trip from Germany to the Marche area in Italy. We went by car, taking with us for the first time our convertible car. The Marche are about 1,500 kilometers away from our home, so we decided to stay overnight in Salzburg (Austria) on our trip south, and in Obervintl/Vandoies di Sopra (Italy, South Tyrol) on our way back north. We knew already the very nice little Hotel Rosenvilla in Salzburg, run by a very motivated team, and had a nice two days stay over there. We didn't know the small Hotel La Passion in South Tyrol, run by the Kerschbaumer family. We enjoyed the great food of Mr. and the charming service of Mrs. Kerschbaumer, our room was very comfortable and clean.

We arrived at our nine-day home, the agriturismo La Giuggiola, a place we had found in the archive of the TheTravelzine. La Giuggiola is a family run restaurant with seven rooms for guests within the natural park of the Monte Conero, a few kilometers from Ancona. Our room was perfectly clean and comfortable and offered a beautiful view towards Camerano and the Monte Conero. Raffaelo and Simone served the great Marchigianian meals which were being cooked by their wives. We tried wonderful specialties like Pasta agli agrumi as a first, Stinco di maiale or Coniglio in porchetta as a second, and Sorbetto al limone as a dessert. You can find the agriturismo from the center of Camerano by following the street to Ancona.

We had chosen La Giuggiola because of the recommendation of this group and because of the central geographical location close to the A14 motorway. This permitted us to easily reach the northern and southern parts of the mountainous Marche area.

In the north we visited famous places like Urbino, San Leo and San Marino. Except for San Marino there were no tourist crowds around. We enjoyed the rennaissance palazzi in Urbino and the wonderful small village of San Leo. It is situated on a rock and the guide book pix show it richt as it is.

BTW, the Marche area doesn't have cities like Florence. There aren't so many outstanding monuments for sightseeing. But there are many hill towns not mentioned in the guide book which were quite as nice as the ones mentioned. So basically: discover your own Marche as you want!

In the center of the Marche, after visiting the Monte Conero itself with the beautiful beach of Portonovo, we went to Ancona, Osimo, Loreto, Recanati, Cingoli, Macerata, Matelica and Fabriano, stopped at Montefano, Montecassiano, Offagna. The beautiful, harmonious, hilly landscape irradiated peace and tranquillity. In the village center you see the old guys, most of them probably pensionists, sitting on benches or in front of the bar. Many of them speak foreign languages because they had been working abroad. It was fun talking to them, to ask for a place where to eat and to listen to their stories. In Recanati we "bumped into" Giacomo Leopardi, a very highly estimated Italian lyrics writer who lived 200 years ago. He wrote poems like "The Infinite", "To Silvia" and "To Himself" which I put at the end of this report (scroll down, if you are interested; translations were found on the internet).

Leopardi's sad but very intense poetry became a kind of a frame of reference for our Marche experience. Visit the palace of his family in Recanati and see the dark library where he had to study when he was a child, then you'll understand his dreaming of Silvia whose singing he could hear while he was learning... Several days later we visited the enormous Grotte di Frasassi, Europe's biggest caves. Our guide led us to a cave which he called "The Infinite". I asked him, if that name came from Leopardi's poetry. He immediately started to recite: "This solitary hill has always been dear to me..., no, the name of the cave doesn't have to do with it". The guide knew the poem by heart!

BTW, in Recanati Mr. Castagnari repaired my little diatonic accordion. Castelfidardo and Recanati are specialized in that handcraft.

In the South of the Marche we went to Fermo and Ascoli Piceno. Fermo is a fantastic hill town with a remarkable central square (Matelica has a very nice square, too). We went into the city center with our car and were glad when we left through the steep and narrow streets luckily without damaging our car. From Fermo we went to Castelluccio (Umbria) in the Sibillinian mountains. The elevated plains of Castelluccio were not yet blooming very much, but again, like last year, we felt like aliens driving a space-craft and landing smoothely in that enormous kettle... In the Taverna Castelluccio we tried the typical menu degustazione with delicious specialties: lentils, lamb and so on. I was happy when our very kind host sold us a few pounds of my beloved lentils from Castelluccio from his own production, the true ones were otherwise sold out at that time of the year.

We went down from Castelluccio to Norcia, a historical center of Italian ham and saucage production. At Ansuini we got our "usual" amount of ham, saucages and beans. Like the other years we took quite a measure of nice food with us to take it back home. On our way back we stopped in Ascoli Piceno with its wonderful Piazza. We sat down at Caffe Anisetti and had those special drinks, tasty like a Campari, but without alcohol, which were served with delicious little snacks.

From the Monte Conero area we got nice red wine, the Rosso Conero, very good olive oil and some "lemon oil" which turned out to be great for many salads. Packed with ham, saucages, pecorino cheese, beans, lentils, olive oil, Carnaroli rice (we don't get it in our German shops), fennel seeds and many many nice memories we started our drive back home. Our little convertible was a revelation: you see and smell so much more with the roof off!

On our way back we cruised through the alps from Padova through the Val Sugana via Trento to Spiazzo where the Distilleria Genziana is selling very special grappa made from the roots of mountain plants. Proceeding north we admired the group of the Dolomites of Brenta near Madonna di Campiglio before we arrived three hours later at our small hotel at 8:00 PM. Again we found that the Trentino and South Tyrol mountains are so special and sooo wonderful and still outside the "choosiness" of international tourism, like the wonderful Marche area.

We thank all our hosts very much for their hospitality, warmth and friendliness.

Best Regards, Johannes Haltern am See, Germany


Where we stayed: Hotels and Agriturismo ======================================= On our way to Italy in Salzburg ------------------------------- Hotel Rosenvilla Höfelgasse 4 A-5020 Salzburg Austria Tel.: 0043 (0)662/621765

On our way back to Germany in South Tyrol ----------------------------------------- Hotel La Passion Via S. Nicolo' 5/B I-39030 Vandoies di Sopra (Bolzano) Italia Tel.: 0039 0472/868595

Our home in the Marche area --------------------------- L'Agriturismo "La Giuggiola" Crt. Boranico, 204/A Angeli di Varano (Ancona) Tel.: 0039 071/804336

Where we ate: ============= On our way to Italy in Salzburg ------------------------------- Restaurant Pfefferschiff zu Soellheim Soellheim 3 A-5300 Hallwang bei Salzburg Austria Tel.: 0043 (0)662/661242

On our way back to Germany in South Tyrol ----------------------------------------- Restaurant La Passion Via S. Nicolo' 5/B I-39030 Vandoies di Sopra (Bolzano) Italia Tel.: 0039 0472/868595

Here We had good meals in the Marche area -----------------------------------------

Ancona ====== L'Agriturismo "La Giuggiola" Crt. Boranico, 204/A Angeli di Varano (Ancona) Tel.: 0039 071/804336

Agriturismo Aion Via di Montacuto, 121 Ancona Montacuto Tel.: 0039 071/898232

Ristorante Il Laghetto Via Portonovo Ancona Portonovo Tel.: 0039 071/801183

Ascoli Piceno ============= Caffe' Meletti Piazza del Popolo I-63100 Ascoli Piceno (Famous caffe, no restaurant)

Cingoli ======= Osteria La Cantina del Palazzo - La Vineria Via Benedetto da Cingoli, 30 Cingoli Tel.: 0039 0733/602531

Macerata ======== Trattoria Da Rosa Via Armaroli, 17 I-62100 Macerata Tel.: 0039 0733/260124

Norcia Castelluccio =================== Taverna Castelluccio Via Dietro la Torre, 8 Norcia Castelluccio Tel.: 0039 0743/821158

Recanati ======== Ristorante La Torre Antica Piazza B. Gigli Recanati Tel.: 0039 071/7573132

Urbino ====== Ristorante Il Cortegiano Via Puccionotti, 13 I-61029 Urbino Tel.: 0039 0722/320307


Poetry by Giacomo Leopardi:

L'infinito / The Infinite ========================= translation by Gilbert Wesley Purdy

This solitary hill has always been dear to me, And this hedgerow, which closes in the view So well that one need hardly look upon the west. But sitting and reflecting, from out of the endless Expanse of night sky, and the supernatural Silences and so profound stillnesses, It comes to me here how I beguile myself; For a moment, then, the heart no longer fears. And, like the wind I hear whisper among these leaves, I hear within that infinite silence a voice: It overwhelms me with the eternal, And the seasons passed away, and that present And living, and with its own sound. Thus within This immensity my thoughts are drowned... And it is sweet to be shipwrecked in this sea.

A Silvia / TO SILVIA ==================== Silvia, do you remember those moments, in your mortal life, when beauty still shone in your sidelong, laughing eyes, and you, light and thoughtful, leapt beyond girlhood's limits?

The quiet rooms and the streets around you, sounded to your endless singing, when you sat, happily content, intent on that woman's work, the vague future, arriving alive in your mind. It was the scented May, and that's how you spent your day.

I would leave my intoxicating studies, and the turned-down pages, where my young life, the best of me, was left, and from the balcony of my father's house strain to catch the sound of your voice, and your hand, quick, running over the loom. I'd look at the serene sky, the gold lit gardens and paths: this side the mountains, that side the far-off sea. And human tongue cannot say what I felt then.

What sweet thoughts, what hope, what hearts, O my Silvia! How all human life and fate appeared to us then! When I recall that hope such feelings pain me, harsh, disconsolate, I brood on my own destiny. Oh Nature, Nature why do you not give now what you promised then? Why do you so deceive your children?

Attacked, and conquered, by secret disease, you died, my tenderest one, and did not see your years flower, or feel your heart moved, by sweet praise of your black hair your shy, loving looks. No friends talked with you, on holidays, about love.

My sweet hopes died also little by little: to me too Fate has denied those years. Oh, how you've passed me by, dear friend of my new life, my saddened hope! Is this the world, the dreams, the loves, events, delights, we spoke about so much together? Is this our human life? At the advance of Truth you fell, unhappy one, and from the distance, with your hand you pointed towards death's coldness and the silent grave.

A se stesso / To Himself ======================== translation by Gilbert Wesley Purdy

Now you will rest forever, My tired heart. The fabulous deceit That I myself believed eternal has ended. Ended. How sharply I feel, In we of the dear deceit, There is no hope, desire being spent. Rest forever. So many Palpitations. Your flutterings Serve no one, nor do you dignify the earth With your sighs. Life is bitter and empty, Nothing more. The world is a slough. Calm yourself now. Despair For the last time. Fate gave your kind No gift but death. At last Nature disdains you, the brute Power that, lurking, imposes the common day, And the infinite vanity of all things.