Welcome to the spring issue of the quarterly Marche Voyager newsletter as we grub around for greenery, look forward to a jazzy summer, say hello to a new province, and hunt out antique bargains.
The days are at last warming up after one of the snowiest winters on record in Le Marche - the snow reached a depth of over one and a half metres in many inland areas and took up to a month to melt.
As the trees break into leaf people with over-stuffed carrier bags wander across fallow fields, carefully inspecting the ground as they go, gathering the many wild herbs - herbe del campo - that still play a part in the marchigiana diet.
Weeds such as the common dandelion, field poppy and the more tender types of thistle are carefully cut at their roots to be eaten either raw in salads as a misticanza, or boiled before being quickly sautéed in good olive oil with a clove of garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice at the end.
The hedgerows also have treasures; one of the most common climbers across Europe is wild clematis or old man's beard, Clematis vitalba. Here in Le Marche it's know simply as vitalba and the young growing tips - roughly the first 10cms with the tip still a closed bud - are enthusiastically picked in spring. They are then blanched in boiling water for a few minutes to get rid of the excess bitterness before being added to a frittata, or Italian-style omelette. The Italian frittata, unlike it's French cousin, should be cooked very slowly until fully set and is often eaten cold.
If you'd like to know more then visit Herbaria, the first national festival dedicated to herby things that takes place at the beautiful Fiastra Abbey from 12 to 15 May.
Herbaria website (in Italian)
Fiastra Abbey in Marche Voyager
The Ancona Jazz Summer Festival lights up the summer nights from 18 to 24 July and features Joey DeFrancesco Trio , E.S.T. - Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Janne Ersson Big Band, and Gilberto Gil.
Other jazz events in the region this summer include Fano Jazz by the Sea from 28 June to 3 July, and the Musicando Jazz and Blues Festival at Camerino in June
Ancona Jazz website
Fano Jazz by the Sea
And then there were five...
The Marche region is to have a fifth province - the province of Fermo. The new province, set to become operative in 2009, is made up of some 40 commune that used to be under the province of Ascoli Piceno. The provincial headquarters will be at the delightful town of Fermo and the abbreviation to be used in postal addresses and on car number plates will be "FM". The other four provinces that make up the region are, from north to south, Pesaro & Urbino (PU), Ancona (AN), Macerata (MC) and Ascoli Piceno (AP).
Street fairs selling antiques, bric-a-brac, the not-so-old stuff that's know in Italy as modernariato, and even what some might label junk have become popular across the peninsula and over 20 towns in Le Marche now have a regular antiques market.
The main monthly fairs include Ancona on the last Sunday of the month and the Saturday before, Ascoli Piceno on the third Sunday and Saturday before, Fano on the second Saturday and Sunday, Pesaro on the third Sunday, Recanati on the first Sunday and Saturday before, and Tolentino on fourth Saturday and Sunday.
Follow this link for a full list of antique markets in Le Marche (in Italian but easy to follow)
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