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Trip Report Le Marche and Rome - Part 1

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Just returned from a fabulous 2 1/2 weeks in Le Marche, ending with 4 days in Rome.

We arrived at Fiumicino at about 2pm. We didn't want to go into Rome - just rent a car and head north. The first night we stayed at La Posta Vecchia in Ladispoli, about 30 minutes north of Rome. This is a fabulous Relais and Chateaux that used to be the villa of John Paul Getty, right on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

It was a challenge to find the hotel since there is a left turn off the superstrada - but there is no sign and the left turn is almost a u-turn. Fortunately, I used Google Maps before I left to "drive" to the hotel - so I recognized the turn.

The hotel and setting are gorgeous - breakfast on the terrace was spectacular. The restaurant is very good but very fancy. I would have preferred a good restaurant with great local Italian food.

In the morning, we took off for Perugia, where we were staying for 2 nights. On the way, we stopped in Deruta to see if there was any interesting pottery (just what I need!) We stopped at U. Grazia which has gorgeous stuff. Fortunately, I found nothing to buy.

The proprietor, Dr. Ubaldo Grazia, is a fascinating person. He turned us on to a great restaurant book that I had not seen before, "Osterie d'Italia 2014". We bought it in Perugia and used it throughout the trip.

In Perugia, we stayed at the Brufani Palace Hotel, which was a wonderful hotel. Normally, the location is great, right in the main square. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), the Chocolate Festival was going on in Perugia and we couldn't get to the hotel's front door. It took a little negotiating, but someone from the hotel rescued us, took the car, and we could just walk to the hotel. All of the main section of Perugia was filled with Chocolate purveyors - what a hardship!

I had made a dinner reservation from New York before I left at Antica Trattoria San Lorenzo. Through some research, there were some other restaurants that we wanted to try. I asked the concierge to cancel our reservation and she was told that there was no record of our reservation. When we arrived back at the hotel after dinner, I received an email from the proprietor of the restaurant telling me (in Italian) that in the future, I should cancel my reservation. And then called me something equivalent to rude, ill mannered, etc. The hotel staff assured me that he is "an artist" and his behavior is not a surprise. I was certainly glad we had not gone there.

We did eat at Civica 25 - a fine local restaurant. We had eggplant parmigiana, local prosciutto, braised beef in wine, and snails in umido.

We spent the next day in Perugia. We explored the Chocolate Festival and stopped at the Cafe Perugia for a light lunch. We walked all though Perugia to the University and back. Had a cocktail at the hotel bar. What I love about cocktails in Italy is that they always bring "snacks" with the drinks and I'm not just talking "bar nuts". So it's always a pleasure -

We had dinner at a wonderful restaurant, Ristorante Altromondo, nearby the hotel. We had local prosciutto (hand cut), smoked salmon with balsamic, gnocchi, and calamari and cuttlefish, along with cauliflower and eggplant. I had a great zabaglione for dessert.

Although prosciutto is quite tasty in this part of Italy (in fact, in any part of Italy!) but I'm not used to it being cut by hand. I think I prefer it sliced thin by machine (but it didn't stop me from eating it!) Just think the taste is more delicate when it's thinly cut.

We left the next morning and drove to a little town, Solomeo. This is a hill town near Perugia that has been "bought" by the clothing designer, Brunello Cucinelli. He has a store in the middle of town, along with a factory nearby, and his world-side shipping is also right there. Apparently, the people who work for him live there. He has built a beautiful theater, called (appropriately) the Cicinelli Theater, where there are all sorts of concerts and shows. It's a beautiful place - and apparently people love working for this guy. Even though this is supposedly an "outlet', there was nothing there I could afford. But it was certainly a great deal of "eye-candy".

We drove to another lovely little town, Cagli. and had a great lunch at La GIocondo (from Michelin). They served a little "antipasto" of a small fried potato croquette drizzled with balsamic and honey. We had gnocchi with tomatoes and porcini - and tagliatelle with parmigiana, piled high with white truffles. It was fabulous. We ordered "beets" but it turned out to be the green tops of the beets (which I usually throw out!), prepared with oil and garlic - yummy… Finished with a crema di marscapone.

We drove to La Gola di Furlo (the Furlo Gorge). This is a beautiful gorge through the mountains with a lovely river , Fiume Candigliano, running through it. It must be very crowded in the summer but we were the only people there. Memorable...

We drove through he town of Aqualagna (a center for truffles) and then onto our first town in Le Marche, Urbino, and the Hotel Bonconte.

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