4th entry – le marche 2012

Earle-and-Suzanne’s house is in the Metauro River valley; it’s on the northern slope of the rounded hills that form the valley below us. Each morning I look out and see the hilltop towns of the next valley, and I’ve wanted to go exploring these structures that shape the horizon. Today was the day to explore the next valley to the south of us. We drove down to Isola di Fano and then up the mountain and into the next valley. (Derrick had put in ‘off-road’ when he was setting up the GPS, and Rose yelled and yelled. The off-road trip would have taken us 3 hours, the fastest-time trip had us at Fratte Rosa the hilltown we see from the kitchen window in 30 minutes.)The interior of Le Marche is these cultivated, rolling hills. And this patchwork is one of my favorite landscapes.

Our first stop was to Fratte Rosa and immediately there were signs of foreigners. The entire town has been beautifully refurbished; all the houses have been cleaned and pointed. (It reminded me of Assisi. Modern day Assisi is the disneyland of Catholicism. The entire town has been refurbished to keep the tourists with loaded pockets coming. Forget the fact that Francis made poverty a virtue, modern day Assisi is anything but poor.)

The next evidence of foreigners was in San Lorenzo in Campo. (It was full of tall, blond Germans.) I did forgive them their invasion, because we found a Frutta e Verdura shop where the owner sold us the best Visciolata wine ever. This is a dessert wine made in Le Marche. It’s made from wild cherries mixed with wine. I walked in and asked if he would sell us a bottle of wine and then open it so we could have it for lunch. Of course he would. Well, he ended up having to uncork two bottles before he was successful at getting the plastic cork out. He put those two bottles aside and he picked out a third with a real cork that he was able to remove. We now had our wine. Earlier I had bought two slices of pizza with bacon and eggplant, Rose and Derrick had paninis stuffed with porchetta. (I told the owner of the Frutta e Verdura that in America it would be illegal for him to open the wine and then sell it to us. He said American is very open, but very contrary.)

We drove to the next small town and sat in the piazza in the shade and had our picnic lunch. Oh yes, the man from the Frutta e Verdura packed us three plastic cups. After our piazza lunch I went over to the local real estate office. (It was the only business still open.) It listed all these farm-houses for sale. Some were completely restored,, others were ruins. The prices were beyond high. They were so over-priced that I couldn’t believe people were paying these prices. I guess the Germans dodn’t see the prices as exorbitant, highway robbery, out-right stealing …

The Viscolata we had after dinner with fresh melon. (Rose is already planning a trip back to San Lorenzo in Campo to buy more Viscolata. She’s planning to take at least one bottle back to Michigan. I’ll think about it throughout the year and it will become another reason to return next summer.