After an excellent summer in Le Marche - with some of warmest September days we can remember - the nights are drawing in and our evenings of outdoor eating are numbered. Once again it's autumn and time to look forward to the many delights of winter.
With winter not far off what better than a small (or large...) glass of vino cotto (or vin cotto) to round off dinner. This sublime dessert wine from the south of the region is made by boiling down fresh grape must in copper cauldrons - hence cotto or "cooked".
The reduced must is poured into small oak barrels that already contain a quantity of vino cotto from the year before and is left to ferment slowly. The high sugar level produces an alcohol content of around 14 per cent.
The process of making vino cotto is of ancient origin with some even claiming it was practiced by the Piceni tribes who lived in the area some 3,000 years ago. As well as being an excellent digestivo, vin cotto marries well with ciaiuscolo, the soft salame from the area.
The "capital" of vino cotto in Le Marche is the small town of Loro Piceno in Macerata province which dedicates an annual sagra to the brew in August. Vino cotto is so popular here that it was even used by mothers to massage the skin of their newborn babies.
As regular readers of the newsletter know, autumn marks the start of the white truffle season so a reminder of the main truffle fairs is in order.
The highlight of the white truffle calendar is the Fiera nazionale del tartufo (National Truffle Fair) during the last weekend of October and first two weekends of November in Acqualagna in Pesaro-Urbino province.
Other towns that have their own truffle fair include Sant'Angelo in Vado - weekends from 11 October to 2 November- and Sant'Agata Feltria - weekends 5 to 26 October.
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
Raising the curtain...
The winter season at Ancona's Teatro delle Muse kicks off on 13 December with an evening of ballet from the celebrated French choreographer Roland Petit. The season - which runs until March 2009 - also includes the rarely-seen 20thC American opera "The Emperor Jones" based on an Eugene O'Neill play, and Verdi's "Rigoletto".
At Jesi's Teatro Pergolesi the annual opera season opens on 4 October with Mozart's "Magic Flute" and includes Puccini's "Tosca" and Rossini's "Il Viaggio a Reims".
Teatro delle Muse, Ancona details in English
Opera season at Jesi details in English
Last of the summer shows
There is still time to catch two interesting Marche exhibitions. In the setting of Matelica's splendid Palazzo Ottoni, visitors have until 31 October to see "Potere e Splendore: gli antichi Piceni a Matelica", a fascinating collection of finds relating to the Picene tribes who lived in the area in ancient times.
At Civitanova Marche's Pinacoteca Civica, drawings and prints by the great Italian 20thC artist Giorgio de Chirico are on show until 9 November in an exhibition entitled "Giorgio de Chirico e il segno".
Matelica Piceni exhibition exhibition (in Italian)
Civitanova Marche Giorgio de Chirico exhibition (in Italian)
An Abundance of accordions
Accordion players from around the world will be descending on Castelfidardo between 13 and 19 October for the Festival Internazionale della Fisarmonica.
The annual event attracts world-class players and enthusiastic amateurs alike, and features concerts by both soloists and accordion groups. The festival closes with a concert featuring the winners of the prestigious annual accordion competition.
Castefidardo international accordion festival English site
The weather-eroded pinnacles known as the Lame Rosse are one of the most striking geological features in the region.
This landscape of weather-beaten spires and towers in red, friable rock would look more at home in the Grand Canyon, but lies in the Sibillini National Park in the comune of Fiastra in Macerata province. A Google search for "lame rosse Fiastra" will give you plenty of details and photos of this remarkable place.
The ancient Roman legions final overcame their arch-enemies, the Carthaginians - and killed Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal - at the Battle of the Metaurus in 207 BCE near the modern-day Metauro river in the northern Marche.
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