Our annual (and sometimes biannual ) visit(s) to fabulous Tuscany continue, resulting in much pleasure, consumption of great food and wine and of course a plethora of photographs.
Our stay in Tuscany this summer was preceded by a few days staying in the Le Marche region of Italy, the calf muscle (or “gastrocnemius” ) in the boot of Italy. We stayed in Ancona and also visited Senigallia to its north and Loreto to its south, before heading back westwards through Perugia to our home-from-home Castellina-in-Chianti .
Our visit to Le Marche was predicated on three main ideas. First, we wanted to explore a part of Italy we had not previously seen together, we wanted the initial part of our trip this year to be “do-able” with our hire car but still flying into and out from Pisa, and thirdly, I wanted to see Senigallia again myself as 2018 was the 50th anniversary of the last time I was there, as a boy with my parents of a family holiday.
In 2017 our precursor to Tuscany was a few days on the Ligurian coast visiting Rapallo and Portofino. They were lovely places to visit, with photographs that recorded a memorable stay, and so we were hopeful that this year’s excursion would be similarly rewarding and enjoyable.
We stayed in Ancona, or to be more precise a hotel on the outskirts of Ancona. Ancona itself is, it has to be said, not a tourist mecca the likes of some other Italian cities and is fundamentally a port city with important and historic connections across the Adriatic to Greece and Eastern Europe. That said, it is an interesting place and there are many features that arise from that long maritime history, it’s social and religious history under Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Jewish control and its strategic connections arising from its location.
My slideshow of a selection of the photographs form Le Marche features a few of the landmarks of Ancona, including the National Archaeological Museum and the nearby Roman Amphitheatre, the imposing Cattedrale (Duomo) di San Ciriaco in its elevated position, the intricate stonework and features of the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Piazza, the view over the bay including the Arco (arch) di Traiano , and the Chiesa di San Domenico at the end of the Piazza del Plebiscito. This latter church was looking a tad unloved and in need of appropriate restoration and the Piazza was strangely quiet and unpopulated despite it being lunchtime at the time of our walk-around. The city clearly seems to lack the investment and visitation that might rescue some of these places.
As part of our stay in this region of Italy, it was important for me to revisit Senigallia. This town is one of many along Italians Adriatic coast that now features predominately as a (beach) holiday resort but does not have the same notoriety our visitation as places further north up the coastline like Pesaro and Rimini. It is important for me to point out that the reason we visited the town was that it was the Italian seaside town that I visited with my parents when I was 12 years old. Pretty obviously, my recollection of the town was mainly the beach front, swimming in a sea that was noticeable much warmer than any sea that I had up until then encountered, the hotel (in which I had my first taste of squid in my introduction to Italian cooking) and the fabulous Italian Ice Cream (gelato) which understandably continues to be my favourite proper ice cream of choice.
What the 12-year-old me was obviously less interested in at the time, and for which I therefore have no recollection, was the town itself. 50 years on, we discovered that Senigallia does have some charm and pleasant street scenes, and also has a very extensive market day that seems to take over many of the streets, piazzas and walkways with countless stalls and activity. It is pretty clear that the town’s main draw for tourists is the myriad segments of beach with their fast food outlets and activity centres and the town itself is a local market town that not so many tourists experience. As a nod to my past, lunch was enjoyed in the American Graffiti Diner following a walk along the beach front.
Another day and this time we headed south from Ancona to the small town of Loreto, a hill town in the Marche region which has most notoriety as a historic and popular location of Catholic Pilgrimage and the site of the Basillica della Santa Casa. The towns epicentre is the impressive Piazza which create te foreground to the Duomo and is bounded by the Santuario della Santa Casa, the Palazzo Apostolico Comunale and Jesuit College. It is perhaps because we are more used to visiting places like Siena, Florence, Naples and Rome, that despite its impressive architecture and character, and it’s importance as a religious destination for believers, we found it wonderfully under-populated. From my perspective that meant we were able to enjoy the peaceful splendour of the town and take many photographs without have to endure hoards of selfie-stick wielding distractions that have a habit of cropping up in such places when you raise a camera to your eye to capture that memorable shot.
I’m not saying that we have exhausted the region with this small excursion, nor that we will not return to explore more of it, and we’re sure that many people will say…” oh but you didn’t visit so-and-so…”
Our visit to this part of Italy was proof, if any were needed, that we love the sites, sights, people, culture, history, food and wine and aspects of Italy in all their many guises. Like our visit to the Ligurian coast in 2017, this excursion was very worthwhile, memorable, confirmation that we will continue to seek out and visit many places in Italy as possible, and ultimately endorsement of the fact that we really do love our trips to Tuscany most of all.
So, what and where will the next trip to Italy (and Tuscany) include? If you have any suggestions feel free to reply or comment, and I hope you enjoy the slideshow.