Welcome to the summer issue of the quarterly Marche Voyager newsletter with jousting, some flag waving, and surreal moments by the seaside.
Every town of any size in Le Marche now has its own rievocazione storica, a day or two of historically-inspired jollity usually featuring some form of knightly tournament between the different quarters of the town, a grand parade in sparkly renaissance costumes and, of course, plenty of enthusiastic eating and drinking to round off the event.
The grandest of them all is probably Ascoli Piceno's Quintana on the first Sunday of August. The region's answer to Siena's celebrated Palio, it features a spectacular joust in the city's main square with horsemen tilting at a "quintain" as well as a procession of over a thousand people in historical costume .
Other outstanding examples of these summer events include La Disfida del Bracciale at Treia on 7 August, an energetic ball game featuring a vicious wooden "bracelet" used to hit the ball, the Contesa dello Stivale at Filottrano on 7 August, featuring a race for a boot, and the Caccia al Cinghiale at Mondavio 13-15 August with archery, fireworks and a renaissance banquet. Other towns that feature notable rievocazioni include Acquaviva Picena, Cagli, Caldarola, Cingoli, Corinaldo, Corridonia, Fermo, Offagna, San Ginesio, Sant'Elpidio a Mare, Servigliano and Urbino.
Marche Voyager events page
A regional round up of all these events (in Italian)
True blue beaches
Across Europe the Blue Flag is awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education to environmentally well-kept beaches. The prestigious "eco-label" is given to sites that meet strict criteria including water quality, environmental management, safety and other services. Le Marche can boast one of the highest number of Blue Flag beaches of any region in Italy.
The region's eleven towns with Blue Flag beaches this year are, from north to south, Gabicce Mare, Pesaro, Senigallia, Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati, Civitanova Marche, Porto San Giorgio, Cupra Marittima, Grottammare, and San Benedetto del Tronto. Blue Flags have also been given to two marinas at Porto San Giorgio and Porto Numana.
Marche Voyager beach page
As if we didn't already know...
US newspapers seem to be falling over themselves to sing the praises of Le Marche. First it was the prestigious Wall Street Journal with a full-page spread simply entitled "The New Tuscany"; then last May the New York Times headed a glowing paean to the region with the headline "Is Le Marche the Next Tuscany". Now this month Time magazine has dedicated a major feature to Urbino and it's Ducal Palace with the title "The Thinking Man's Disneyland". Those of us who know Le Marche can happily report that it is neither Tuscany, nor Disneyland - it's simply what it has always been - an unusually attractive, varied and undervisited part of central Italy.
Wall Street journal article
New York Times article
If you're anywhere near Civitanova Marche this summer make for Civitanova Alta to see a remarkable collection of drawings and prints by Salvador Dalí. The exhibition in the Church of S. Agostino and the Pinacoteca Moretti runs until 30 October and also features work by other Surrealists such as Max Ernst, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp.
Meanwhile in Fermo an exhibition in the splendid Palazzo dei Priori running until 18 September features work by the great early Baroque Flemish artist Rubens.
Two other exhibitions of note this summer are "Fra' Carnevale: The Renaissance & the Artists at Duke Federico's Palace", a major exhibition at Urbino from 20 July to 14 November on one of the lesser known artists at Federico's court, and the annual collective show at Sassoferrato which this year includes a tribute to the celebrated Italian - and marchigiano - photographer, the late Mario Giacomelli.
Official Marche Cultural site (in Italian)
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