■ 13 February 2013 by James Martin
They make a few mistakes, of course:
Problem is, Tuscany is now prohibitively expensive in all seasons.
Well now, the Lunigiana, where the wife and I have a little place, is dirt cheap these days. Amazingly cheap. It has also made some of these “where to retire to in Italy” lists.
But on to Le Marche. We are going there in spring to experience the Easter season. It’s a fast turnaround—arrive in Italy, go to the house, then zip off to Le Marche.
We usually don’t take off so early after arriving “home”. But it’s an opportunity we didn’t want to miss. So what’s compelling about Le Marche?
The minute you get across the boundary of Tuscany around Gubbio you are in such a lovely green valley you may fall in love with it immediately. Le Marche is full of history. Besides, regular people, like the lovely woman on the right, make their own cheese. You do not have to go to the store and pay $23 a pound for it. She made us a nice round in less than an hour. It’s not rocket science, as Americans believe as they take a chain saw to the vacuum sealed vault their cheese come crumbled in.
Yes, in a way you have to prepare yourself for “nostalgia travel”. Hand-made cheese bursting with flavor? Yep. Knowing the shepherd who sold the lambs to the butcher? Check (his name and the meat’s provenience is on the chalkboard). Artisanal stamped fabrics decorated with rust? Yes, even that. Prosciutto to die for—or at least to travel a long way for (unless you’re already in the Marche of course). Oh yes, yes and yes…
And the monasteries tucked into out of the way valleys; there are a tremendously large number of them, some slowly crumbling into romantic ruins, others a hive of spiritual activities and liquor production. You can even visit one with a Scriptorium, an ancient place in which monks labored, copying manuscripts until the very last ray of sunlight left the huge capture area of the specially designed windows. (It’s called Fonte Avellina and you eat there, take a tour, or even, with special preparations, get married there.)
Don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself. Stay (and eat!) in a historic inn in historic Borgo Pace called La Diligenza where you can actually play croquet in their gardens. You’ll need the exercise after eating the incredible local food they provide. Or head up the slopes above Mercatello and stay in the little borgo called Castello della Pieve whose thriving main street is shown to the left. Or gather a crowd and stay in the sprawling Pallazzo Donati right in the main square of Mercatello sul Metauro.
And if you go in fall, there are truffle fairs in Sant’Angelo in Vado
And for that ham and those antique stamped fabrics? Head over to Carpegna
I know, I know, It’s way too much for you to think of. Well think hard. Le Marche is a nice place—and even more importantly, the locals are very, very enthusiastic about showing off their region to you.
Here’s the inspirational article from AARP, the people who fill my mailbox with exhortations to join forces with them because I’m old and decrepit: Best Places to Retire Abroad: Italy
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