Fireflies light up the night while nightingales and crickets provide the soundtrack - it's summer again in Le Marche and after a wet start, the heat seems set for the next few months. But remember that up in the hills there's always a cooling breeze...
While the Adriatic boasts some of the finest fresh fish in Italy, one of the region's classic dishes is based on humble dried fish from the cold, grey waters of the North Sea. Stoccafisso all'Anconitana is made with stockfish - wind-dried cod from Norway - potatoes and very slow cooking. As its name suggests, it is best tried in the region's capital at Ancona.
The use of stoccafisso and its cousin baccalà, or salt cod, goes back to early Medieval times in Italy, and it was once one of the most important commodities traded between the Mediterranean and Scandinavia, often in exchange for salt.
For chapter and verse on the dish and stoccafisso in general take a look at the Accademia dello Stoccafisso website (in Italian).
Jazzing it up
Summer in Le Marche offers visitors a trio of outstanding jazz festivals, all featuring world-class performers.
The Ancona Jazz Summer Festival mostly takes place at the Teatro delle Muse in the Marche capital and runs from 6 to 18 July; concerts include a Tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim, and the Stacey Kent quintet.
Fano Jazz by the Sea runs from 24 to 31 July and includes the Yaron Herman Trio, Yellowjackets featuring Mike Stern, and the Michel Portal Trio.
The third jazz festival of note is TAM - Tutta un'altra musica and takes place in a number of towns in the southern Marche; concerts include the Barbara Casini trio with a "Homage to Gilberto Gil" on 1 August at Pedaso, and the Giovanni Seneca "Per Aspera" quintet on 6 August at Ortezzano.
Ancona Summer Jazz Festival website
Fano Jazz by the Sea website
TAM - Tutta un'altra musica website
Marche Jazz Network website
Blue Flag record for 2008
Le Marche has been given 15 Blue Flags, the prestigious awards given annually to well-kept beaches across Europe by the Foundation for Environmental Education. The region draws with Tuscany for the highest number of Blue Flags for any region in Italy.
The important "eco-label" is given to sites that meet strict criteria including water quality, environmental management, safety and other services.
The region's towns with Blue Flag beaches this year are - from north to south - Gabicce Mare, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia, Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati, Potenza Picena, Civitanova Marche, Porto Sant'Elpidio, Fermo-Lido/Casablanca-Marina, Porto San Giorgio, Cupra Marittima, Grottammare, and San Benedetto del Tronto.
Marche Voyager beach page
Putting art in its place...
Luca Signorelli, the celebrated High Renaissance artist from Cortona, painted one of his greatest works for the Collegiate church of San Medardo in Arcevia. But during the Napoleonic invasion at the start of the 19th Century the Pala di Arcevia was seized and taken to the gallery that was to become the Brera in Milan
Now, exactly 500 years after its creation, the glittering altarpiece has temporarily returned for an exhibition in the church for which it was created. The show runs until 28 September and also features another important work by Signorelli and outstanding terracotta works by Andrea and Giovanni Della Robbia.
Signorelli at Arcevia exhibition website
Forty years on...
On 11 August 1968 Le Marche's most famous white wine, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, received official recognition as a "DOC" wine (Denominazione di Origine Controllata - the Italian equivalent of the French Appellation Contrôllée). And to mark the fortieth anniversary a range of events have been organized in a number of the 24 comuni where the wine is made.
Verdicchio-themed festivals worth visiting include Verdicchio in Festa at Montecarotto from 2 to 6 July, the Festa del Verdicchio at Staffolo from 21 to 24 August, and the Sagra dell'Uva at Cupramontana on the first weekend of October.
Page from Jesi Town Authority on events to mark Verdicchio's 40th anniversary here
Over the net
Volleyball fans will be delighted to know that Ancona is one of ten Italian cities chosen to host the 2010 Men's Volleyball World Championship.
Webbing it up
The Marche Regional Authority has smartened up its web presence and given its institutional website a face-lift; you can see the new look at wwww.regione.marche.it.
It is possible - though somewhat unlikely - that you could meet up with a brown Marsican bear if you go down to the Sibillini National Park.
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