In the midst of a notably cold January, welcome to the wintery edition of the Marche Voyager Newsletter. And there's just time to wish you all a serene and fruitful 2019.
Everything but the squeal
In the bright frosty air of January the upland valleys of the Marche resound to the cries of pigs as they face the butcher's knife in small farms across the region. The pig remains a central part of the traditional diet of the marchigiani and, as they say, everything gets used but the squeal.
Most of the carcass ends up being salted to produce prosciutto, pancetta, lonza, salami and sausages. The head is used to produce coppa di testa, a type of brawn, and even the blood is collected to make a daunting dessert called sanguinaccio, a cross between chocolate mousse and black pudding. The best belly fat is minced and salted for lardo, an essential ingredient in the rich meat sauces used to dress pasta, while other fat is rendered down for strutto, or lard.
The Marche town of Fabriano lends its name to an outstanding salame that boasts a coveted Slow Food "presidia". Salame di Fabriano, much enjoyed by Garibaldi, is made from the better cuts of the pig mixed with cubes of belly pork and is at its best around Easter.
Two wheels good
The celebrated Giro d'Italia, one of the world's most famous cycle road races, this year includes a stage that pass through Le Marche. On Saturday 18 May - after leaving neighbouring Abruzzo - the race heads along the Marche coast before finishing at Pesaro.
The official Giro d'Italia website
Borghi and better!
The Borghi più belli d'Italia organization promotes the prettiest of Italy's villages with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants. In the Marche, Mercatello sul Metauro, in the north, has been added to the list, making 27 places in the region out of a total of 279 across the whole country.
In alphabetic order these are Cingoli, Corinaldo, Esanatoglia, Frontino, Gradara, Grottammare, Macerata Feltria, Mercatello sul Metauro, Mondavio, Mondolfo, Montecassiano, Montecosaro, Montefabbri, Montefiore dell'Aso, Montelupone, Monte Grimano Terme, Moresco, Offagna, Offida, Pergola, San Ginesio, Sassoferrato, Sarnano, Servigliano, Treia, Torre di Palme and Visso.
Borghi Più Belli listings for the Marche (in Italian)
Fair squares #31
The homely little Piazza Castello in Moresco graces the hills above the valley of the Aso river in the southern Marche.
On the piste
After the holiday over-indulgences what better than burning off the calories on the region's ski slopes. It may not be Switzerland,but the Marche boasts a clutch of small but well-equipped ski resorts. These include Bolognola, Sassotetto, and Castel Sant'Angelo sul Nera in the Sibillini mountains in the south, and Carpegna, Piobbico and Monte Catria in the north. Beware, though, that snow isn't always so dependable in these small places.
The "B" word...
If you're British and live or own property in the Marche, you'll be concerned about the future with Brexit on the horizon. The campaigning group British in Italy is seeking to protect the existing rights of British people living and working here, and their website and Facebook page are useful resources for news about how Brexit may affect you.
British in Italy website. And Facebook page.
There are over 70 kilometres of ski runs in the region.
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