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Le Marche and Rome - Part 2 - Urbino

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Dec 4th, 2013, 10:00 PM
  #1
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Le Marche and Rome - Part 2 - Urbino

We drove to the Hotel Bonconte in Urbino - another hotel not easy to find. Once again, I'm happy to report that I drove it on Google Maps before I left home, found the "hidden turn" on the first try, and BAM!, the Bonconte was right in front of us.

The hotel turned out to be quite nice. We had the one suite in the hotel, the Suite del Duca. It was very pleasant and had a beautiful view over the countryside.

We arrived at sundown and explored the town a bit - through the dense fog.

We planned to stay in Urbino as a base for 3 nights. The first night, we had a lovely dinner at Taverna Degli Artisti. We had tortellini in brodo (a real obsession with me - must have something to do with comfort food…) and vitello tonnato to start and then orata with zucchini and veal scaloppini with mushrooms. To top it off, I had vanilla and pignoli gelato with hot fudge (it was as good as it sounds.) There were lots of people in the restaurant, which was very lively and we had a really fun waiter.

As you can see, I'm obsessed with Italian food - feel free to speed through these parts of my story.

The next morning, after a terrific breakfast at the hotel, we drove to the lovely town of San Leo. The concierge said it should take 45 minutes (it took us 2 hours!). We drove through Sassocorvaro, Mercatale, Macerata Feltria, and Mercate Vecchio. San Leo is on the top of a mountain and the ride was beautiful.

The town of San Leo is really one street. There is a plaque on a house attesting to the fact that "Saint Francis of Assisi slept here". Even further up the mountain, at the very top, is a fort, the Fortezza. We thought about walking up and then thought better of it - we drove up and were very glad we did. The Fortezza is a large museum and it was, in fact, used as a fort until World War I. There is a bunch of artillery up there - it's quite large and the views are breathtaking.

We drove back to Urbino [was a lot shorter since we didn't get (too) lost]. Explored the town a bit more now that the weather had cleared. We had wanted to stay at the Hotel San Domenico but they couldn't accommodate us. We did want to see it, though. The Hotel San Domenico (reported to be the best hotel in Urbino) is physically connected to the Church of San Domenico - the hotel used to be a convent and the 4th floor hallway overlooks the church. cute… The hotel was too modern and the bar was almost non-existent. [I know it's a shallow judgment] But I still prefer the Bonconte - a lot more charm.

We had dinner at a wonderful restaurant, La Trattoria del Leone. Strangely, a dog and his owner, whom we had seen in town the day before, were sitting at the next table. Yes, that's right, the dog was at the next table [this happened to us more than once during this trip]. I only wish this pet were a bit more docile. Should have been called La Trattoria del Cane...

We had a lovely bottle of Verdicchio and split spinach with peccorino, mushrooms, and parmigiana. I had a risotto with shrimp, walnuts, and cheese. My friend had a very simple tagliatelle with olive oil - sounds boring - it wasn't! I had semifreddo all'amaretto.

Can't believe that I lost 2.5 pounds on this trip - guess I don't eat enough pasta at home…

The next day, we drove to Urbania. Another lovely town. Lots of arcades. It was a Sunday and there was a beautiful mass going on in the church. At first, we thought that it was to pray for Urbania's soccer match that day - there were balloons and lots of singing and it was packed! It turns out that it was a first communion celebration for the town's children. Great to watch.

There was a lovely young woman in the Tourist Office who was so excited when I told her that there was a huge push to publicize Le Marche throughout New York City the week before we left on this trip. She wrote everything down so she could tell her boss. Inspirational to see someone so interested in what she did - in this tiny town in Le Marche.

We drove to Pesaro (on her recommendation). It's a beautiful beach town with a fabulous boardwalk and lots of kite surfers.

We went to lunch at Commodoro (from Michelin). We shared a rucola salad with shrimp and parmigiana (yum!), branzino in wine and tagliatelle with seafood in marinara - and some grilled veggies… We walked into the old city, inside the walls, and found Rossini's house (for all of our opera fans back home). We couldn't find it right away - the lady who gave us directions came all the way back on her bicycle to show us where the house was, when she realized that her directions weren't accurate. I love when this stuff happens...

Drove back to Urbino and rested, watching "Say Yes to the Dress" and "George to the Rescue" (I know, I know… but it was a little bit of home...).

Dinner was one of the best yet - at Da La Stella. Owned by a couple - the husband was the front of the house and his wife was the chef. Once again, I succumbed to my tortellini in brodo (which had lemon in it for a wonderful change) and my friend had prosciutto from Carpegna (very popular in Le Marche). We both had the cervo (venison) with a berry sauce and polenta with spinach. Now how wonderful does that sound?? Had a terrific wine, Lacrima di Morro d'Alba.

This was the end of our time in Urbino. Tomorrow morning we leave for Recanati...
LaBellaDona is offline  
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Dec 4th, 2013, 11:54 PM
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Lovely report! We were in all those places in Sept...sigh...
jamikins is offline  
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Dec 5th, 2013, 04:59 AM
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I forgot to ask yesterday: When you were in Furlo, did you pass through the ancient tunnel carved by the ancient Romans in the rock face? The road is single lane there, and usually there is a traffic light that allows one direction at a time to pass.

For others who are planning a similar trip, Fano and Senigallia are two other seaside towns worth visiting. They're a bit further from Urbino, especially Senigallia, but I like both towns better than Pesaro.
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Dec 5th, 2013, 07:03 AM
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Yes - we did go through the ancient tunnel but we were the only ones there - so there was no traffic issue. It was so wonderful…

I don't post photos on this board because I'm not sure how to do it… Will look into it.

We did want to go to Fano and Senigallia but there was not enough time. Next time...
LaBellaDona is offline  
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Dec 7th, 2013, 08:11 AM
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I too have experienced the "Weight Loss by Traveling in Italy" plan. Much better than Weight Watchers. I am loving the food details. Thank you.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 08:17 AM
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The tunnel in Furlo is amazing isn't it!

I use www.flickr.com to post my photos online, it's easy to use and easy to organise them to post the link here.
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Dec 18th, 2013, 08:06 AM
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Everything sounds wonderful. wekewoody, someone should write a book with that title! I also use flickr but always goof on calling up just one set of pix.
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