The mercury's rising, tans are deepening on the lungomare, and the finest meal is cool, ripe melon with the region's best prosciutto crudo - welcome to the summer edition of the Marche Voyager newsletter.
In Visner veritas
Now is the time to collect visciole, a wild sour cherry that grows in various parts of the northern Marche and is used to make a lip-smackingly delicious liqueur called visner or vino di visciole. This heavenly digestivo is made by macerating the crushed dark cherries in red wine with sugar, lemon peel and either cinnamon or cloves. Some also fortify the mix with rum.
For the very best you really need to try the home-made brews made using secret family recipes passed down from generation to generation, but a number of local producers now make excellent commercial versions for sale in enoteche, or wine shops, across the region.
The secret for a long life? Live in Le Marche might just be the answer according to ISTAT, Italy's national statistical office who recently announced that the region boasts the highest life expectancy in Italy, a country that already has one of the highest rates of longevity in the world. Figures for Le Marche give a life expectancy of 78.8 years for men and 84.7 for women.
The website of the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (in Italian)
From football to flutes
Right now towns across the region are putting the finishing touches to their summer entertainment programmes - from jazz to medieval junketings, from opera under the stars to art shows, wherever you find yourself in Le Marche in July and August you'll not have far to go to find events to help make your holiday memorable.
Just a few for tasters - Mozart's Magic Flute at Macerata's open-air opera festival, Ascoli Piceno's medieval jousting tournament La Quintana on the first Sunday of August, Treia's sporting spectacle the Disfida del Bracciale - a 19th Century form of football - also on the first Sunday of August, and even donkey races on 22 & 23 July at Mercatello sul Metauro in the north of the region.
Last call for Gentile
There are just a few weeks left to catch a major exhibition of the works of the great 15th century painter Gentile da Fabriano, the leading exponent of the International Gothic School - the much-praised show runs until 23 July in his native town of Fabriano.
Put out more flags
The Touring Club Italiano has now awarded 14 of its prestigious "Orange Flag" awards to Marche towns. A total of 111 Bandiere Arancioni Touring have been given to small inland comuni across Italy in recognition of the quality of what they offer the tourist while still protecting the environment. The marchigiani comuni entitled to fly the flag are, in alphabetical order, Acquaviva Picena, Corinaldo, Genga, Gradara, Mercatello sul Metauro, Mondavio, Montelupone, Monterubbiano, Ostra, Ripatransone, San Ginesio, San Leo, Sarnano, and Urbisaglia.
Down by the sea the flags change colour with the prestigious Blue Flag award given by the Foundation for Environmental Education to well-kept beaches across Europe. The important "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, Fano, Senigallia, Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati, Civitanova Marche, Porto San Giorgio, Grottammare, and San Benedetto del Tronto.
Marche Voyager beach page
Keeping art in its place
Modern preoccupations with security mean that we can rarely see great works of art in the settings for which they were originally intended. But as Le Marche is an isola felice, or happy island still relatively free from serious crime, there are numerous small churches where one can find beautiful paintings over the main altar or in an unassuming side chapel where they were created to be hung.
Many of the best of these serendipitous works are by two great Renaissance giants who painted in Le Marche, Carlo Crivelli and Lorenzo Lotto.
For details take a look at Marche Voyager's Carlo Crivelli and the
Lorenzo Lotto pages.
This September sees the 6th Pergolesi Spontini Festival celebrating the great Marche composers Gaspare Spontini and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. This year's event, entitled Spontini and Mozart, in the shadow of Pergolesi, also features works by Mozart and runs from 1 to 10 September in the towns of Jesi, Maiolati Spontini, Montecarotto, Monte San Vito, Monsano and San Marcello.
For full details see the Pergolesi Spontini website
There are around 7,000 palm trees in San Benedetto del Tronto.
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