The Marche is indeed a green and pleasant land after an unusually wet June as our woodland view shows. And if the onions of Urbania are to believed, July and August look set to be hot. Welcome to a tanned summer edition of the Marche Voyager Newsletter.
If you have a sweet tooth you might be tempted to try a glass of one of the region's choice dessert wines. In the northern Marche look for the lip-smacking liqueur called visner or vino di visciole. This heavenly digestivo is made by macerating crushed sour cherries in red wine with sugar, lemon peel and either cinnamon or cloves. Some also fortify the mix with rum.
Vino cotto (or vin cotto) is a perfect way to round off dinner. This complex 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 "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.
A ruby rarity is the sparkling red wine known as Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, from the small town of Serrapetrona in Macerata province. Most commonly it is a sweet dessert wine, but it is also available in a drier secco version that goes particularly well with the Marche's soft ciauscolo salame.
Furlo gorge reopens
The spectacular limestone Furlo Gorge in the northern Marche has now been reopened to pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes after being closed for over a year in the wake of a severe landslide. It remains closed to cars, so can now be enjoyed in relative tranquillity.
Fly me to the Marche
This summer Ancona airport is served by flights from around 15 destinations including London, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Munich, Barcellona and Sicily.
Ancona airport website.
This year marks the 600th anniversary of the completion of the jewel-like frescoes in the Oratory of San Giovanni Battista in Urbino. Celebrating the life of St John the Baptist, these masterpieces of the International Gothic style of the 15th century were painted by the Marche brothers Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni in 1416.
The small church in the heart of the town is open daily, but is closed for lunch from 1pm to 3pm and on Sunday afternoons. It costs just Euro 2.50 to visit.
Game of castles
The noble little town of Arcevia stands high up on a ridge in the Apennine foothills of the central Marche, and the relative grandeur of the place comes as something of a surprise with several smart palazzi lining the main Corso Mazzini. Its chief treasure is the church of San Medardo where you can see two canvases by Luca Signorelli, and a terracotta by Giovanni della Robbia.
It's also worth taking the time to explore the " castles of Arcevia" - nine small, walled villages surrounding the town, little changed since they were built in the 14th and 15th centuries.
In alphabetical order, the villages are Avacelli, Castiglioni, Caudino, Loretello, Montale, Nidastore, Palazzo, Piticchio, San Pietro. None are "major" sights, but all have a great deal of charm for the lovers of life's small enchantments.
And if you visit pretty Caudino between 16 and 21 August you'll be able to catch what's billed as a "festa of art, sculpture, poetry and music".
Simplified map of the nine castelli of Arcevia
This summer sees the return of weekly tours to Villa Imperiale, a splendid Renaissance villa and gardens in the hills above Pesaro. There is a guided tour every Wednesday afternoon until 28 September, including bus transfer from central Pesaro.
The villa was originally built in 1469 for Alessandro Sforza but the most impressive parts of the complex date from 1528 when Eleanora Gonzaga oversaw major rebuilding works with her husband Francesco Maria I Della Rovere, Duke of Urbino.
Details and bookings on this page
Last call for art show
There's still time to see around 120 works from the private collection of the heterodox Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi on show in Osimo this summer. Entitled Lotto, Artemisia, Guercino: le stanze segrete di Vittorio Sgarbi, the exhibition runs until 30 October 2016 in the noble setting of Palazzo Campana.
Pesaro and Urbino is the Marche province with the most comuni, or municipalities, with 59.
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