The “real” Italy! The Way to Go! [Guest Post]

January 14th 2013 by Silvia

All you need is curiosity and time...

You don’t have to be an art historian or an archaeologist to enjoy all the countless treasures of Italy.
Neither do you have to be a gourmet to enjoy the delights of the Italian kitchen or a wine expert to enjoy the enormous variety of great wines.
All you need is curiosity and time...

What to see in Le Marche rehion - Holiday in ItalyWhat to see in Le Marche rehion - Holiday in Italy
Once you are in Italy and get even a small taste of what the country has to offer, you will want to return time and time again. Your interest will be sparked in subjects you had never before even considered. Your horizons broaden with the limitless discoveries you will make in this diverse and intriguing country.

Concentrate on one small area or region at a time. Choose one that is off the beaten track so that you can get a taste of the “real” Italy untouched by mass tourism.
Le Marche (pronounced “lay mar kay”) is a great place to start. Central Italy is where the Renaissance came about. Palaeolithic finds on Monte Cónero provide evidence of civilization from the 9th and 10th centuries BC! This easternmost region of central Italy is alluring in its variety of landscape, located as it is between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine mountains. Most visitors never get beyond the sun and sand of the popular beaches of Le Marche’s 180 kms of coastline. However, the rewards are many for those adventurous ones who take the winding roads inland towards the numerous hilltop villages. There are cobblestone streets with buildings dating back to the Middle Ages and earlier. The spectacular panoramic views will keep you sitting on that café chair on the piazza drinking your cappuccino and dreaming of never having to leave!

 Le Marche region - winter and mountain holiday in italy Le Marche region - winter and mountain holiday in italy

For flights from abroad or from other Italian airports, the best point of arrival in Le Marche is the International Aereoporto di Falconare in Ancona. As far as climate is concerned, wonderful sunny days can be enjoyed year round but with the best months being May, June and September. The months to avoid are July and August as this is the holiday period for many Europeans and also the hottest time of the year. Though even then, the hillier areas of Le Marche can be wonderfully refreshing with temperatures lower then on the coast.

Before you leave home, take the time to look up the Italian State Tourist Board website. You will find suggested itineraries, places to stay, events of every description, products to try and much more. In your search, you will learn about each local area. This will help you decide where you want to base yourself.

What to see in Le Marche - Cónero, Le Marche holiday - ItalyWhat to see in Le Marche - Cónero, Le Marche holiday - Italy
The best way to see Le Marche, or any region of Italy for that matter, is to rent a car. There are the usual rental firms at the airport but you should book in advance to make sure you get what you want. If you’re not an EU resident, you will need an International driver’s license. Buy good maps – Touring Club Italiano maps are excellent. You will find their offices in all the larger towns and their maps are also available in most of the larger book shops on in the petrol station shops on the motorways.

Whatever you wonder about and whenever any question comes to mind, don’t hesitate to ask people standing beside you in the bar or sitting at the table next to yours on the piazza. People are extremely friendly and helpful and are always more than willing to suggest places you must see, or food and wine you must try. Since this is an area without hoards of tourists, the locals are still curious about where you come from and what you are doing in Italy. It is very easy to start a conversation, even with limited Italian. The famous Italian use of arms, hands and facial expressions is an art that you will soon master and have fun in the process!

Le Marche, Italy by car - how to travel in ItalyLe Marche, Italy by car - how to travel in Italy
Take a drive to the Cónero National Park just south of Ancona. You’ll find white limestone cliffs and lovely sheltered coves below Monte Cónero. Thi picture is taken from a piazza in the small town of Sirolo, one of the prettiest of the resorts located in this unusual stretch of coast.
Sirolo - Monte Cónero - Le Marche: Holiday in Italy, What to see and what to doSirolo - Monte Cónero - Le Marche: Holiday in Italy, What to see and what to do
Urbino is definitely worth a visit. (One could name many more, but this will give you a taste of what’s ahead).
Urbino is a town where there will be many tourists due to the enormous wealth of important renaissance art found there. Urbino is built on two hills, with narrow streets rising and falling between them. The spectacular renaissance Palazzo Ducale is a masterpiece of architecture created by the benevolent ruler Duke Frederico Da Montefeltro in the second half of the 15th century. It has inviting courtyards, pleasing lines and is less ostentatious than many other palaces. The Duke gathered the greatest architects, builders, writers, poets and painters of the period making it one of the most illustrious courts of Europe in its time. The Ducal Palace is now the seat of the National Gallery of the Marches with masterpieces by Piero della Francesca, Tiziano, Raffaelo (better known as Raphael) and many more. Urbino was the birthplace of Raffaelo in 1483. Another MUST to visit in Urbino is the exquisite small Oratorio of San Giovanni with frescoes by the brothers Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni. (If you’ve never heard of them, you’re not alone. How could one possibly know of ALL the masters in this amazing country!). Once you’ve seen their work, you will always be on the lookout for more. The colours are harmonious, and the subjects beautifully and expressively depicted.

about Le Marche: discover Urbino, Pesaro in Italyabout Le Marche: discover Urbino, Pesaro in Italy
Take the small roads, away from the motor route and tourist buses. Stop in the medieval villages for a walk around. You’ll love the narrow cobblestone streets, the frescoes in the churches, the charming piazzas with all the cafés, restaurants and small shops. In shops like the one pictured below, you will be unable to resist buying a few slices of prosciutto, a fresh goat’s cheese, some local olives and a bottle of the local wine for a late evening treat at your B&B. Or why not try the trattoria you saw on the central piazza that was so crowded with families out for their “pranzo” or lunch. They seemed to be having such fun. Don’t be intimidated. Smile and go on in and show them you like the look of their place! You will enjoy the food, always made with loving care, using the locally grown produce harvested by the very families sitting there. There is a definite sense of pride evident everywhere. The Italians love their country and their food and wine (this may not be the case regarding the government but you don’t have to get involved in such discussions – in fact, make sure you avoid them!).

Typical butcher in Italy - How to eat in Le MarcheTypical butcher in Italy - How to eat in Le Marche
Perhaps you can already speak Italian, but if not, then on one of those return trips, sign up for a 3-4 week intensive language course. Two excellent schools in Le Marche are located in lovely Camarino, about an hour from the coast, and located just south of Ancona in the village of Camerano. You are not only taught conversational Italian but also the history, culture and traditions of the region. This is an excellent and enjoyable way to come closer to the “real” Italy.

Wherever you find yourself and at whatever time of year, you will feel the warm welcome of the people you meet. You will be enchanted by the beauty of the hills, the majestic mountains and the medieval villages. You will understand how the expression “La Dolce Vita” came about! Italians seem to be telling us all “Life is to enjoy and enjoy NOW´”.

Buon viaggio!

This is a guest post written by Janet Riben:

Guest blogger of CharmingItalyGuest blogger of CharmingItaly
"I am an American married to a Swede since 1971. Due to his work, we have lived the majority of our marriage abroad – in my home town of New York City – in Denmark – in Norway – in Venezuela. I worked for 8 years renting out vacation homes in France. It wasn’t until my 60th birthday in Rome that I realized that Italy was where I wanted to be!! I am now 67 and have learned enough Italian to move around easily; we now own a home in Abruzzo; I have been a property finder for a couple of firms until my recent retirement; I have taken a travel journalism course for the precise reason of having an excuse for travelling as much as possible in your amazing country; and MUCH more!! Hope you enjoy my article on Le Marche!"

If you have any question for Janet, post a comment and if you like her point of view about Italy…. Don’t worry, she’ll come back with other Italian experiences!
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The “real” Italy! The Way to Go! [Guest Post]