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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Love Touring Italy - Springtime In The Marches

the portal of San Francesco church in AnconaImage via Wikipedia

The Marches is a narrow region of central Italy that lies on the Adriatic Sea. Its capital and largest city, Ancona, population 100 thousand is a seaport in the middle of the region. This is the real, traditional Italy. Like many parts of Italy, the region warms quickly during the spring months. You may want to start your spring vacation in The Marches in the town of Porto San Giorgio, population about 16 thousand, about halfway down the Adriatic coast from Ancona. On the third weekend of March this city is host to a Food Festival of typical regional products. There are literally hundreds of stalls and stands. One of the best wines in this region, the Rosso Conero Riserva DOCG comes from this area.

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The city of Fermignano, population 8500, located about 40 miles (70 kilometers) west of Ancona, holds the Golden Frog Race (Palio) on the Sunday after Easter. This means April 11, 2010 and May 1, 2011. In this race human competitors must keep their tiny racing frogs from leaving their wheelbarrows. This frog racing tradition seems to have started just over four hundred years ago. After this late afternoon race there is a historical, costumed pageant and then fireworks. I certainly wouldn't ask for frogs legs at a local trattoria. During the final week of April the city of Marotta di Mondolfo, population about 11 thousand, situated approximately 25 miles (35 kilometers west of Ancona) hosts the Sagra dei Garagoj food festival. "Garagoj" in the dialect signifies a special fish cooked by local fishermen on the beach. You might want to accompany this fish with a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC or a Verdicchio di Matelica DOC white wine but be careful, their quality varies greatly. On the first Sunday in May, the town of Tolentino, population about 20 thousand presents the historic Le Marche Festa. This military pageant recreates the Napoleonic period in its nearby Castello della Rancia commemorating the 1815 battle that some call the first battle in the war for Italian independence. The town of Camerino, population 7 thousand, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Ancona, holds the Fifteenth Century Le Marche Festa between the first and second weeks of May that coincides with the festival of its patron saint, San Venanzio. This celebration features food, games, and wine. One highlight is the Corsa alla spada in which competitors race up the town's wonderful steep alleys and streets. Don't miss the Giostra della Quintana (historical jousting tournament). I can't promise you any Fifteenth Century wine. ----------------------------------------------------Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but he prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and people. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website which includes information on Italian wine and food.

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