The log pile is stacked, villages are ablaze with winking Christmas lights, and menus are being planned for the cenone di San Silvestro, the traditional gargantuan New Year's eve dinner - welcome to brittle frosts, sparkling snow and the winter edition of the Marche Voyager newsletter.
Giovanni Santi, Madonna and Saints (detail), Cappella Tiranni, Cagli (PU)
Mention Italian olive oil and most people think of the celebrated produce from Tuscany or Liguria but few know that the Marche now produces some of the finest olive oils in the country.
The extra virgin oil from Cartoceto in Pesaro province has been protected under the EU's DOP (denominazione di origine protetta) scheme for a number of years, but this winter the whole region has gained an IGP (protected geographical indication) for its finest olive oils.
The Marche is notable for the biodiversity of its groves with ten local varieties of olive accounting for 85% of production (Ascolana Tenera, Carboncella, Coroncina, Mignola, Orbetana, Piantone di Falerone, Piantone di Mogliano, Raggia, Rosciola, Sargano di Fermo). Look out for "monovarietal" oils pressed from these single varieties to produce olio extravergine of most striking character.
A record total of twenty-one Marche wines managed to win Gambero Rosso's prestigious Tre Bicchieri awards for Italy's finest wines of 2018, including fifteen outstanding examples of white verdicchio.
Gambero Rosso's Tre Bicchieri 2018 awards for the Marche (in Italian).
Fair squares #27
This summery view of a Marche piazza shows the matchbox square in Civitanova Alta overlooking the Adriatic, in the south of the region.
Pesaro's prestigious Rossini Opera Festival runs from 11 to 23 August in 2018 and includes a new production of Rossini's Adina, along with everyone's favourite, The Barber of Seville.
Marche Voyager opera page.
A series of exhibitions centred on art from the areas hit by the 2016 earthquakes in the south of the Marche, opens with a show of works by Lorenzo Lotto, Carlo Crivelli and other leading painters between the 1500s and the 1700s. Entitled "Art that Saves" (L'arte che salva), the exhibition runs until 8 April 2018 in the museum of the Santa Casa at Loreto.
Meanwhile in Macerata's Musei Civici, another show called Capriccio e natura displays Marche masterpieces from the second half of the 16th century, and is open until 13 May 2018.
Le Marche is the only Italian region to have a name in the plural.
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