We are always delighted to report good news about Le Marche, and this spring edition of the Newsletter has plenty of upbeat stories - from tourism to trees, and Oscar-winners to the regional GDP. We make no apology for the mildly chauvinistic tone...
A fishy story
One of the more exotic creatures you'll frequently find in any Marche pescheria, or fish shop, are cannocchie (or pannocchie). This curious crustacean - known in English as a "mantis shrimp" - is the marine equivalent of the praying mantis and goes under the linnaean name of Squilla mantis. They are a speciality of the Adriatic and are usually sold still alive and, literally, kicking; the two large, distinctive "eyes" are marks on their tails probably evolved to warn off predators.
As well as being an essential ingredient in fish soup and brodetto, the Marche fish stew, they are delicious eaten cold after being very quickly poached for a few minutes in a small amount of water; once cooled, cut the top of the carapace with a pair of scissors from end to end, extract the flesh in one piece and serve dressed with good olive oil and lemon.
Sol-fa so good....
Now is the time to start planning if you want to hear world-class opera at one of the summer opera festivals in Le Marche - book early as tickets sell out fast.
Macerata's Open-Air Opera Festival in the massive Sferisterio arena opens with Bizet's Carmen directed and designed by double Oscar-winning film designer Dante Ferretti. Meanwhile the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro opens with a solo recital by world-renowned tenor Juan Diego Flórez in the atmospheric Teatro Rossini.
Marche Voyager opera page
Macerata Open-Air Opera Festival website
Rossini Opera Festival website
Healthy tourism figures for 2007
The region played host to 2,385,954 visitors in 2007 - an increase of 2.3% on 2006 - with the number of foreign tourists increasing by a healthy 5.6%.
Visitors to Le Marche spent some 1,921 million Euro (3.8% more than the previous year) and stayed for an average of around 7.2 days.
The lion's share of the foreigners who visited Le Marche in 2007 were the 60.786 German visitors, followed by 27,108 British, 23,225 French and 21,480 Dutch.
Of the total vistors, almost 85% were Italian and 15% were foreigners.
Visitors to Urbino's Palazzo Ducale will be able to get a taste of the great library assembled in the 15th Century by Duke Federico da Montefeltro - one of the most celebrated in Renaissance Europe - at a special exhibition open until 27 July 2008.
The exhibition features some of the finest works that once formed the great collection and takes place in the rooms at the Ducal Palace that housed the library until it was moved to the Vatican some 350 years ago.
The Palazzo Ducale at Urbino is open daily from Tuesday to Sunday from 8.30am to 7.15pm and from 8.30am to 2pm on Monday.
Le Marche culture site Urbino exhibition page (in Italian)
The prestigious Italian food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso in association with the Slow Food movement have given eleven of their celebrated Tre Bicchieri 2008 awards for Italy's finest wines to Marche producers.
Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri awards
Keep taking the PIL
Le Marche has the 2nd highest rate of growth of Gross Domestic Product (Prodotto Interno Lordo, or PIL) amongst the regions of Italy. In 2006 GDP in Le Marche grew by +2,6%, against the national average of +1,9%. The figures come from ISTAT, the official Italian statistics office.
Le Marche is the 3rd region in Italy for numbers of trees - there are around 300 trees for each resident.
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