Le Marche & Bologna – The Real Dolce Vita
For a taste of ‘The Real Italy’, head to Le Marche, a region of outstanding natural beauty situated between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea. Renaissance art, awe-inspiring mountainous landscape and stunning beaches are just some of the lures of this wonderful destination. My holiday base was Recanati and the Gallery Hotel – http://www.ghr.it/en/ One of the best run hotels that I have stayed in for quite some time. Stefania the manager really knows the hospitality business and we even enjoyed a live opera evening of “Nessun Dorma” with tenor Dario Ricchizzi- What a voice he has! from http://www.villaincanto.eu/ Move over Andrea Bocelli….
Ricanati is the city of poetry and the home of famous Italian poet and scholar – Giacomo Leopardi – He is widely acknowledged to have been one of the most radical and challenging thinkers of the 19th century. Some of his more famous quotes – Real misanthropes are not found in solitude, but in the world; since it is experience of life, and not philosophy, which produces real hatred of mankind. – No human trait deserves less tolerance in everyday life, and gets less, than intolerance. – People are ridiculous only when they try or seem to be that which what they are not.
We were on a fantastic cooking holiday arranged by Concezio and Antonello from Best Holidays in Italy – www.bestholidaysinitaly.com The resident chef in the Gallery Hotel was the award winning Alessandro Rapisardi. He was joined by veteran chef and author Franco Taruschiro and his lovely wife Ann. We visited local fish markets, picked wild fennel and capers, visited the lovely Isadora Winery where we sampled some of the regions amazing wines. Known for its Verdicchios and san…. We also visited the amazing town of Loreto with its incredible Basilica (third biggest in Italy) and enjoyed a culinary highlight there with dinner at “Andreina” a Michelin star restaurant with Chef Enrico. This was food art and gastronomy and its’ pinnacular best! We couldn’t move for hours after gorging ourselves on Ernesto’s food wizardry! The food was paired with sumptuous wines….. A meal fit for a King or Queen!
The day visiting the Conero region was eye opening. This area has beaches that would rival anything on the Cote d’Azur, seafood restaurants and quaint towns and villages brimming with all things wonderfully Italian….at prices that would knock your socks off for value….. The beach restaurant Arturo in Sirolo is terrific…. the bruschetta and spaghetti vongole were sublime again paired with crisp delicious Verdicchios from the region. Check out some of Le Marche’s Best wines here – Le Marche Wines Also a big thanks to the Association “Riviera del Conero e Colli Dell’Infinito” ( http://www.rivieradelconero.info/en/ ) – All information on the beautiful Conero region is here.
We enjoyed the chestnut festival in the wonderful town of Osimo “Castagna” and visited the impressive opera theatre at Macerata which is the home of the annual famous “Macerata Opera Festival” held in July & August. The Sferisterio Arena is really worth a visit and a great place to go for the annual Opera festival.
After our four wonderful days in Le Marche we stayed for our last night in Bologna. This is a wonderful city, a university city of course famous for its towers and porticoes…and of course food…. Bologna is the city of food. We enjoyed a traditional Bologna lunch in one of its best eateries – Trattoria dal Biassanot! (A favourite of Rick Stein’s no less) he filmed here for his recent programme on Italy.
Alice our wonderful guide from www.bolognawelcome.it took us on a highly informative and interesting sightseeing tour. It was all she could do to stop the ladies from spending hours in all the local shops…. handbags, shoes and fashion abound here, and again, at jaw droopingly affordable prices. I just love my wonderful Merino wool turtle necks! My friend Isabel and myself decided to venture out for a pizza on our last night, after 4 days of high octane culinary mastery, we were dying for something a little more rustic and of course what could be better than a pizza in Italy! We asked a local if she had any recommendations… Federica from Ravenna, walked us to a great place called “Trattoria Baraldi” – (we are now Facebook friends 🙂 Here we had two delicious pizzas, a bottle of San Pellegrino and a velvety Sangiovese for the princely sum of €41…. The manager was great fun and Isabel even tried her hand at cooking a pizza for one of the locals…luckily we were long gone by the time it arrived on the table 🙂 Bologna has a fantastic Christmas Market which focuses more on food than wooden toys…. If you are a foodie you will love it…..
Flights to Bologna were great value with Ryanair at €100 return. We upgraded to Priority seating and checked in a bag to bring back lots of wine, parmigiana, olive oil and truffle oil. – www.ryanair.com Ryanair are improving all the time and I find that booking priority seating makes life a lot easier when travelling with them.
We stayed at the wonderful Gallery Hotel in Ricanati and the Tre Vecchi Hotel in Bologna (great location but the rooms had a bit of a pungent aroma which was bearable once the windows were opened)
This holiday was really well organised by www.bestholidaysinitaly.com – From pick up at the airport to all our cooking classes, sightseeing tours, winery visits, restaurant experiences, market visits and even shopping at local outlet shops. Nothing was too much trouble for these guys. Italy certainly has it all when it comes to enjoying the finer things in life…. “Italia non basta una Vita” (One life is not enough for Italy) The locals in Le Marche and Bologna are very special, they are genuinely friendly and will go out of their way to assist tourists. If I win the lotto anytime soon I’m buying a place in Le Marche….. well maybe two places 🙂 We even met the legendary Inspector Montelbano – Luca Zingaretti – Le Marche is also one of his favourite parts of Italy….. If you enjoy the finer things in life at affordable prices then this is the place for you….. food, wine, cooking, shopping, beaches, and of course “La Dolce Vita”