Those smells of leaves and wild mushrooms are in the air and the sun has lost its summer intensity, the seasons turn again and everyone is preparing firewood ready for the north winds of winter - a wistful welcome to the autumn issue of the Marche Voyager newsletter.
Raising a glass to Bacchus
The odour of fermenting must permeates the small towns dedicated to winemaking, buzzing ape, the three-wheeled, 2-stroke vehicles that beetle along the backroads of Italy, are piled impossibly high with bright orange plastic crates brimming with grapes, and maritozzi - sweet buns made with grape juice - appear in the baker's. Autumn marks la vendemmia, or the grape harvest, in Le Marche.
As many lovers of this region will have noticed, Le Marche has been having its own winemaking renaissance in recent years, and many local producers are now making wines that feature among Italy's top vini da meditazione, wines so good they deserve to be drunk with devotion.
Alongside the world-renowned Verdicchio white wines, there is now a host of other excellent D.O.C. wines - D.O.C. is the Italian equivalent of the French Appellation Contrôllée - including the outstanding Rosso Conero red wines from the vineyards around Monte Conero.
One of the more recent additions to the list is a range of wines from around the town of Offida in the southern Marche - Offida Rosso, Offida Pecorino and Offida Passerina . The first is a Montepulciano-based, ruby-red wine that goes well with the local vincisgrassi baked pasta. The Pecorino is a young, spritzy white made mostly from the local Pecorino grape while the more substantial Passerina white is also made in a honeyed, passito version.
Singing under the stars
If you're planning to visit Le Marche next summer, Macerata's spectacular 2011 open-air opera festival at the end of July and into August includes two Verdi masterpieces, Rigoletto and Un Ballo in Maschera. Meanwhile Pesaro's prestigious Rossini Opera Festival runs from 10 to 24 August and includes productions of Rossini's Mosè in Egitto and Adelaide di Borgogna.
Rossini Opera Festival website
Macerata open-air opera festival website
The beguiling town of San Severino Marche in Macerata province is well worth a visit at any time of the year, but until 12 December it's also the setting for a major exhibition celebrating Baroque art in Le Marche.
The show, entitled Meraviglie del Barocco nelle Marche, features around 90 works from the 1600s including pieces by Bernini, Guercino and Pomarancio, and is being curated by celebrated Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi.
Meanwhile a major exhibition of works by Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556), the Late Renaissance artist who spent much of his working life in Le Marche, is set to take place in Rome in 2011. Some 70 pieces by Lotto will be on show in the prestigious Scuderie gallery of the Quirinal Palace during March and April.
Events to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of the celebrated Baroque composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, born in Jesi in 1710, reach a climax on Saturday 25 September when Claudio Abbado conducts a performance of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.
The concert takes places at the Teatro Pergolesi in the composer's home town and also includes work by J.S. Bach.
The next Florida?
Le Marche is one of the ten best places in the world to retire to according to AARP Magazine, the US pensioners' publication with over 35 million subscribers. The article describes the region as "the next Umbria", and goes on to praise it as "a lovely land of vineyards, snow-capped mountains, and splendid beaches". Other countries featured in the top ten include Argentina and Belize.
AARP article on Le Marche
There are over 500 piazze, or town squares, in Le Marche; Ascoli Piceno's Piazza del Popolo is probably the finest but all have there own lively charm.
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