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Off the beaten – Le Marche

11 Oct
We decided to veer away from our original plan of going to Roma. As our son said, “You lived there almost five years! Why are you going back already?” On reflection, we realized we were mostly going there to eat at our favorite places, and to see our friend Eleonora. Sorry Ele, but Derek made sense: we decided to go to one region we’d never visited — Le Marche — and to Piemonte, where we have only visited Torino. Rome will have to wait.

The view from our room. The beach was never any busier than this.

For Le Marche it is difficult to pick one base. It is a region with such geographic diversity that it is time-consuming to get around only by train and bus. With a thought to visiting Urbino (famous Renaissance city) and Ravenna (for the Byzantine mosaics I have been wanting to see for years) I booked us into a very nice hotel in Pesaro (say it PAYZ-a-row).
Pesaro is an Italian beach town which in July or August would be swarming with bronzed bodies. In late September many hotels were boarded up for the season and the beach was deserted. No doubt the reasonable price for our room in the five-star Hotel Excelsior was due to the season. While in Oregon people still swarm to the coast in the fall, in Italy the season is over, no matter how nice the weather.
Offseason made for easy, if long, day trips to Urbino and Ravenna, with quiet walks and dining in Pesaro in the evening. Then there was the up-close view of the Adriatic from our balcony.
We really enjoyed walking around Ravenna and ogling the magnificent mosaics. Having dabbled in mosaics myself, I am in awe of the work done centuries ago. We had perfect weather and lucked into a fine lunch at Il Paiolo. Since Ravenna is in Emilia-Romagna, home of the piadina, we were able to get piadine made by people who really know what they are doing. It may seem simple, but a great piadina is not common. Mediocre ones are.
Urbino was interesting but it is a city of hardscape without much green to relieve it. We toured the Palazzo Ducale and were suitably impressed, but overall, we prefer quainter, less severe towns and more drama in our scenery. The Le Marche landscape surrounding it is lush and begs exploration with a car. It was a long bus trip made interesting by the other passengers and the little rural towns we passed through showing a slice of small-town Italian life.

These people are buying fish. I was amused by the view. The awning is down because the kiosk faces the morning sun. Wouldn’t you think they’d orient the kiosk the other way?

We were less-than-thrilled with seafood in Pesaro. I expected better from an Adriatic town. It wasn’t that the product was poor: it was in fact very fresh. But the preparation was uninspired. Simple grilling would have been best. There was often too much breading and a propensity to fry. With little seasoning, everything tasted the same. Even vegetable options were limited to potatoes and the ever-present insalata verde. Italians do not do great salads, which is a shame given the amazing ingredients available. Prices were not bad, but for similar prices in Lincoln City, we eat far better seafood. And I have had far better in Roma.

Pesaro is a working port and fresh fish is available on the docks.

After trying two seafood restaurants that were right on the beach (the scenery surpassed the food), we turned our attention to a little osteria in the centro storico, Osteria Pasqualon. We were warmly welcomed and served a simple but excellent meal of vitello alla limone, patatine fritte, erbe di campagnolo, melanzane parmigiana, and spiedini misti. (Veal scaloppini, French fries, sautéed field greens, eggplant parmesan, and mixed grilled kabob.) No fish. The price for all of this, with wine, was about €37.00. And that is another wonder of getting off the beaten path: you can find amazing food in Italy at an unbelievable price.
Pesaro was relaxing after Venezia – maybe too much for some people who feel they have to fill every day to the brim. We had had four busy weeks since we left home and more to come. We saw some places from this base that I am happy we got to see. And it was a great opportunity to practice my Italian as outside of the Hotel Excelsior the available English was limited. We liked having a base and not having to spend a series of one-and-two night stays to see some small towns.
P.S. – We are in Paris now. I am trying to catch up with blogging, but we are rather busy enjoying ourselves. Part II about Piemonte coming up soon!

 

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10 Responses to “Off the beaten – Le Marche”

  1. apollard October 20, 2017 at 20:36 #

    The empty beach picture makes me want to run down there, spread out my towel and whoop it up with swimming and sunbathing. Amazing when the weather is warm! I had a similar experience in Sorrento / Amalfi where all the ferries that service the villages along the peninsula have all stopped for the season in autumn but still hoards of tourists about??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel Barton October 20, 2017 at 22:26 #

      Summer in Italy makes a hard stop at September it seems. Tradition!

      Like

  2. Diane White Daniel October 13, 2017 at 01:29 #

    Sadly, Marche by bus means you missed most of it… you really should go back with a car. You can actually take the train to Ancona and there is a Hertz car rental right down the road.

    Like

    • Laurel Barton October 13, 2017 at 04:55 #

      Yes, well, we do not like to drive if possible, so sometimes we miss things. It is a travel-style choice we make. Maybe sometime….

      Like

  3. Marcia October 11, 2017 at 16:06 #

    You are right by your pictures: When the holiday beach is over, it’s over! How empty can a beautiful beach be? And so surprising your seafood wasn’t just spectacular. I’m glad you found something much more interesting and reasonable in the center.

    My brother has been enjoying Paris, Normandy, Versailles but is off to Copenhagen tomorrow.

    Be safe.

    Like

    • Laurel Barton October 11, 2017 at 20:36 #

      Thanks Marcia! Amazingly we had great seafood in Piemonte, a land-locked region. I will post more soon. We are in Paris until Saturday.

      Like

  4. Christine October 11, 2017 at 11:08 #

    Your trip sounds like it’s continuing to be wonderful. I agree with you about Urbino, though. Did you have a chance to visit Ascoli Piceno? Just loved their Piazza del Popolo, and, of course, those olives! Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.

    Like

    • Laurel Barton October 11, 2017 at 13:04 #

      We did not get to Ascoli Piceno. It was too far for an efficient day trip from where we stayed. That is the problem with the more rural regions and traveling without a car.

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Paris pleasures | gooddayrome - October 21, 2017

    […] was quite the change of pace after a week in Pesaro and Bra. We hit Avenue de l’Opéra on Saturday afternoon at high shopping time. Mamma mia! I was […]

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  2. Off the beaten – Piemonte | gooddayrome - October 12, 2017

    […] Le Marche and moving across the country, we took three trains to reach Bra in the Piemonte. No, it is not […]

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