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Trip Report Le Marche and Rome - Part 3 - Recanati

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After we left Urbino, we drove to Fabriano. I wanted to go there because I had read that it was the center for paper. I was hoping to get some wonderful Italian stationary. Unfortunately, the "paper" they produce is copy paper - not exactly what I had in mind…

From Fabriano, we drove to see the caves at the Frasassi Grotto. This was something I really wanted to do - but scheduling became a problem. You drive to a parking lot and then a bus takes you to the Grotto. The next bus wasn't leaving of another hour and a half. We knew we had to begin to head to Recanati so we had to put this one on hold until our next trip to Le Marche.

We stopped up the road at a tiny town, San Vittore delle Chiuse. There was a beautiful little church - in this little valley surrounded with mountains. Beautiful.

We drove to Jesi but couldn't find our way into centro (sounds strange, I know - but that's what happened…) so we drove on to Porto Recanati. This was a very deserted beach town - it seemed like it would be nice in season. But at this time of year there were no people and no place to have lunch.

So we drove on to Recanati, where we were spending 3 nights. We were staying at a hotel called Palazza dalla Casapiccola. The town was not so small but it really was only one rather long street. We kept driving around the town and could see no sign for this hotel. Finally, it was getting a little dark and we stopped at a bar, the Daybreak Bar, to see if anyone knew where this place was. There was a customer there who overheard me and offered to show me where the hotel was. We walked outside and she pointed across the street - at this large green double door. (That's the advantage of a small town…) There was no sign anywhere. Rang the bell and were told to drive around to the back street and they would open these big metal doors so we could park the car on the grounds. Once again, I had driven this on Google and I could recognize these metal doors. (Sometimes being such a nut about details pays off.)

This hotel turned out to be a bed and breakfast and the rooms were apartments. There was plenty of room and it was very comfortable.

We walked around the town looking for a restaurant. We found one that seemed very nice but it opened at 7:30 and it was only 5:30. We found another hotel and had a glass of wine waiting for Borgo Antico to open. It turned out to be a good restaurant - which was really lucky since it turned out to be the only restaurant in town that was open. Barbara, who was the only server, was the wife of the chef - basically a wonderful 2-person operation.

In planning a trip, the one thing I take into consideration is that we are in a town with restaurants. I've made the mistake in the past of staying at an agriturismo that does not serve dinner - then you have to drive on windy, unknown, unmarked roads to find a place to eat - and that's not fun for me.

So I chose Recanati because there appeared to be 3 restaurants. Well, one never opened and the other was a hotel that only served dinner to their clients.

Borgo Antico was lovely - very good food and it was filled with people (since it was the only place in town). It was a 15 minute walk back to the B&B on very deserted streets but we were grateful for our one restaurant.

The next morning we drove to Loreto which was quite an experience.

Just inside the town wall is a beautiful basilica. On entering the basilica, one finds beneath the central dome, a rectangular edifice of white marble, richly adorned with statues. The white marble, however, forms only a protective crust. Inside are the plain, rough walls of a very old cottage. It is purported that this is the House of Nazareth, the home of the Holy Family, which had been brought by angels from Nazareth to the Dalmatian coast, and later, by the same angels, transported to Loreto where it stands today.

Regardless of one's belief, it is difficult to not feel the sanctity of this place. I found it a very moving experience.

We then drove to the coast, to Numana and Sirolo. Sirolo centro is a lovely town high above the sea, from which you can look down on the beautiful beaches of the Cornero Riviera, many of which are accessible only by boat. Once again, there were not many people here - I can only imagine what it might be like in season…

Drove to the top of Monte Conero, expecting a town. The only thing there, however, was a hotel, Hotel Monteconero, which had a beautiful view of the sea. The hotel was closing for the season at the end of the week, so we didn't see any other people there. It was a beautiful location, though.

We drove to Macerata, a very lively town. We had lunch at Osteria Dei Fiori, which was wonderful. We split a Marche Lasagna, which was incredibly fresh, veal with pomegranate sauce, and string beans with pumpkin. It was fun exploring this town. In July, there is a world renowned opera festival, the Sferisterio Opera Festival, performed in their beautiful open-air theater.

Once back in Recanati, we had dinner at the wonderful Borgo Antico.

A few weeks before the trip, I had been to a dinner featuring food and wine from Le Marche. I met 2 people, one who had a vineyard, and another with a pastificio.

We couldn't find the vineyard but we did go to the pastificio, Azienda Mancini, which is the only pastificio that grows its own wheat and makes its own pasta, Pasta Mancini. It was quite a place. A very modern factory situated right in the middle of farmland (as opposed to the others I've seen that are in industrial areas). We had an in-depth tour of the facility and then had lunch in a near-by restaurant that serves their pasta, Trattoria Nicoli, in Monte San Giusto. It was a wonderful day.

We were able to find the pasta at Fiumicino Airport so I could bring some home - and then found some places in NYC that also carry it. It's quite a treat…

Tomorrow we leave for Ascoli Piceno.

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