After a fierce late winter, the skylarks have arrived and may is blossoming in the hedgerows. In the countryside all is activity as farmers make the most of the lengthening days. Welcome to a burgeoning spring edition of the Marche Voyager newsletter.
The ewes' milk pecorino cheese made across the region - often by Sardinian shepherds whose families have for generations populated the uplands - is at its freshest now as the sheep crop the rich spring pastures. The new cheese is perhaps best eaten with young raw broad beans or fave now in season as a simple antipasto. Incidentally, sheep's milk contains roughly twice as much calcium as cow's and goat's milk.
The other low-cost airline, easyJet, is set to start twice-weekly flights between Ancona and London Gatwick at the end of June. This summer they will also be flying between Berlin Tegel and Ancona.
Fair squares #28
The main piazza in the village of San Costanzo, to the north of the region, frames a fine civic fountain. It also boasts an active 19thC theatre.
The eyes have it
Two exhibitions worth keeping an eye out for this summer: the canvasses of the renaissance master Cola dell'Amatrice - flanked by works from his leading contemporaries such as Raphael, Pinturicchio, and Perugino - are on show in Ascoli Piceno's Pinacoteca civica until 15 July.
Meanwhile in Senigallia the iconic black & white images by the French photographer Robert Doisneau, a pioneer of reportage and street photography, feature in an exhibition in the central Palazzo del Duca until 2 September.
Detail from Robert Doisneau's most celebrated image, The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville
Best in class
The popular Italian TV travel programme Kilimangiaro has nominated the village of Gradara near Pesaro as the borgo più bello d'Italia (the prettiest village in Italy) for 2018. Gradara is famed for its well-preserved medieval castle immortalized by Dante in his tragic story of the lovers Paolo and Francesca.
Marche Voyager page on Gradara
Dutch residents and visitors in Sant'Angelo in Pontano in Macerata province join hands with Italian locals for three days of pop, classical, folk, blues and jazz music at the Sant'Angelo Festival from 18 to 20 May. See their website or Facebook page for more information on events.
Sant'Angelo in Pontano festival website
The Italian government has recently unveiled plans to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of the great renaissance painter Raphael in 2020. Born in Urbino in 1483 - the son of Federico's court painter Giovanni Santi - he died in Rome in 1520 at the age of only 37. We'll keep you updated with plans as they are announced.
Detail from Raphael self-portrait
The splendidly-sited monastery of Fonte Avellana, on the eastern flanks of Monte Catria in the northern Marche, was celebrated by Dante in the 21st Canto of Paradiso.
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