Truffles, game and romantic poetry - it's the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" once again, so welcome to the autumn edition of the Marche Voyager Newsletter.
Le Marche region is famous for its prized white truffles. Tuber magnatum Pico - to give it its botanical name - is one of the area's most sought-after treasures, and if you're here between 1 October and 31 December you won't have to pawn the family silver to try freshly-dug tartufi bianchi pregiati.
The centre for the truffle trade is Acqualagna in Pesaro-Urbino province. The town claims to be the only place in Italy where you'll find one type or another of fresh truffle throughout the year, and handles around two-thirds of the entire Italian wholesale truffle business - some 50-60 metric tons per year of all varieties of truffle.
The highlight of the white truffle calendar is the Fiera nazionale del tartufo (National Truffle Fair) during the last weekend in October and first two weekends in November in Acqualagna.
However, a number of other towns have now started their own truffle fairs including Sant'Angelo in Vado - weekends from 13 October to 4 November- and Sant'Agata Feltria - weekends 7 October to 4 November.
If you get hold of any fresh white truffles just three rules - firstly, unlike the French black truffle, they shouldn't be cooked, but are added at the last minute to whatever dish they are to flavour, and, secondly, they are best enjoyed in the simplest recipes; it's hard to beat plain tagliatelle dressed with freshly-pared shards of truffle and some Parmesan cheese. And, finally, they should be eaten as soon as possible - keep them too long and they loose their evanescent perfume.
Acqualagna comune website (in Italian)
Sant'Angelo in Vado Truffle Fair website (in Italian)
Sant'Agata Feltria Truffle Fair website (in Italian)
Marche Voyager's truffle page
Nights at the theatre
The winter season at Ancona's Teatro delle Muse kicks off on 17 November with the leading French contemporary dance company Ballet Preljocaj. The season - which runs until March 2008 - also includes Verdi's "La Traviata", and an appearance by Maurice Béjart's celebrated ballet company.
At Jesi's Teatro Pergolesi the annual opera season opens on 11 October with Puccini's "La Bohème" and includes Massenet's "Werther" and Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor".
Teatro delle Muse, Ancona details in English
Opera season at Jesi details in English
Contemporary art and a sense of humour don't always go together, but the two meet up in Tolentino for the prestigious 24th International Biennale of Humour in Art. Works from around the world interpret this year's lively theme "Che fine ha fatto il maschio?", or "Whatever happened to men?", and are on show until 21 October in the splendid setting of the Castello della Rancia on the outskirts of the town.
24th Biennale Internazionale dell'Umorismo nell'Arte website (in Italian)
Giacomo Leopardi, Italy's greatest Romantic poet, was born in the Marche town of Recanati in 1798. His father, Count Monaldo Leopardi, was an impoverished aristocrat who had withdrawn from the world into the safety of his library, and encouraged his son to follow his example.
By the age of sixteen Giacomo had read all of the great texts in Latin and Greek and knew English, French, Spanish and Hebrew.
Even if you haven't got to grips with his masterpieces such as La quieta dopo la tempestà (1829) or I Canti (1831), a visit to the house where he spent so much of his life gives a remarkable insight into one of Italy's literary giants. The library where he studied contains some 20,000 volumes and has changed little since his days; it is open daily throughout the year for guided tours.
Leopardi's House site in English
Marche Voyager's biography of Leopardi
Marche Voyager's round-up of Recanati
Oh what fun...
Now is the time to book accommodation if you'd like to experience a marchigiano Christmas or New Year, a great time to be here even if the weather isn't at its warmest. Many of the region's best dishes are only made over the festive season, and most restaurants open for Christmas lunch. New Year's Eve across Italy is marked by the Cenone di San Silvestro, a blow-out banquet that lasts long into the night. And, best of all, you won't find an office party in sight.
Don't be worried if you hear gunshot at dawn in the Marche countryside over the next few months. The first of September marked the opening of the hunting season when the region's huntsmen take to the fields with gun and hound. The season runs until 16 December.
Look out for cacciagione, or game, on the menu.
Marche region 2007 hunting calendar (in Italian)
Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori method for educating children, was born in Le Marche at Chiaravalle near Ancona in 1870.
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