Emerald-green lizards skitter across the warm stones, crickets orchestrate the night, crates of watermelons block the aisle at the fruttivendolo, and - as Noël Coward put it - only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. It's summer again in Le Marche.
Food in festa
Pretty well every town in Le Marche holds at least one sagra, or festival dedicated to a local culinary speciality - from frogs and chestnuts to unheard of varieties of pasta, there's a sagra to celebrate every imaginable piatto. The events are always over a weekend and include plenty of song and dance to go with the food.
Here are just a few to give you an idea of the range:
In Pesaro & Urbino province there is the Mostra mercato della pera angelica at Serrungarina at the end of August, dedicated to a luscious small pear grown in the area, and the Sagra della tagliatella at Mercatello sul Metauro in mid-July with donkey races to add to the fun.
In Ancona province choices include the sagra del pesce (fish) at Montemarciano in July, and the Festa della Cipolla at Castelleone di Suasa in early September, celebrating the excellent local onions.
In Macerata province there is the Sagra del Tortellino (stuffed pasta) at Sant'Angelo in Pontano in early July, and the Sagra del Vino Cotto at Loro Piceno in mid-August, celebrating the well-known local drink of "cooked wine" - a delicious tipple similar to vin santo.
In Ascoli Piceno/Fermo area events range from the Sagra delle fregnacce (a form of pasta with a peppery dressing) in Amandola at the end of July, and the Sagra delle cozze (mussels) on the coast at Pedaso in August.
For other sagre see the Marche Voyager events page
Keeping the flags flying
Once again Le Marche has been given a notable number of prestigious Blue Flags, awarded annually by the Foundation for Environmental Education to well-kept beaches across Europe. The important "eco-label" is given to sites that meet strict criteria including water quality, environmental management, safety and other services. Le Marche can boast one of the highest number of Blue Flag beaches of any region in Italy.
The region's twelve towns with Blue Flag beaches this year are - from north to south - Gabicce Mare, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia, Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati, Civitanova Marche, Porto San Giorgio, Cupra Marittima, Grottammare, and San Benedetto del Tronto.
Marche Voyager beach page
De Magistris and Miravigliosamente Mirò
Admirers of the great Catalan artist Mirò can see some 100 of his graphic works in the splendid setting of Palazzo Rubini Vesin in the old centre of Gradara, a few steps from the celebrated castle. The exhibition is open daily and runs until 4 November 2007.
And remember, you have until 30 September to see the exhibition - featured in our spring newsletter - on the 16th Century Marche painter Simone De Magistris in the architectural jewel of Palazzo dei Cardinali Pallotta in his home town of Caldarola, Macerata.
A weather eye
Weather sites are everywhere on the Web, but they aren't always adequately "local" to give you an accurate prediction. Although it's only in Italian, the region's own weather service has a 5-day forecast for Le Marche that often seems to get it right when others don't. Even if your Italian isn't up to scratch, the pictures are pretty self-explanatory. You can also subscribe to get a daily forecast in your email inbox.
The region's very own 5-day forecast in Italian
This summer sees a rare chance to visit Villa Imperiale, a splendid Renaissance villa in the hills above Pesaro. Until 26 September guided tours have been organized, including a bus ride from the centre of Pesaro, on Wednesdays and alternate Fridays.
Pesaro & Urbino province website for details
Remember when visiting towns in Le Marche - or anywhere else in Italy - that from lunchtime until around 4pm many places can seem like ghost towns. To see them at their liveliest try to arrive mid-morning, or late afternoon in time for the passeggiata, or evening stroll.
There are around 60,000 beds in the region's hotels.
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