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A Street Market For Shopaholics The Best Vino Bianco Urbino’s Last Barber Bike The Backroads The Dish That Fell From Heaven




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PLUS: Our Picks of Arts & Culture Fests and Tips to Help You Go Native

urbino Now NUMBER 2, 2011-2012





PUBLISHER Andrew Ciofalo EDITOR IN CHIEF Susan West EDITORS Lona Cobb, Michael Gold DESIGN DIRECTOR Johanna Guevara-Smiley CONTRIBUTORS Rosa Castañeda, Sydni Dunn, Jordan Holloway, Jordan Howse, Jamie Hunter, Lindsey Kreger, Sarah Lorsch, Caryn Maconi, Bianca Pender, Jalila Singerff, Amanda Smith, Lauryn Smith,Victoria Staples, Sunny Thao, Emmalie Vance, Madelyn Wigle PROGRAM ASSISTANT Terri Ciofalo ITALIAN INSTRUCTOR Francesca Carducci

Spend the month of June in glorious Urbino, Italy, a magical combination of Renaissance center and thriving university town.

INTERPRETERS Luca Ambrogiani, Luana Basconi, Alice Bertaccini, Ilaria Bertini, Valentina Bicchiarelli, Chiara Ciattaglia, Andrea Gatto, Manuel Khouadri, Valentina Mangani, Silvia Verducci

Study international journalism, magazine writing, and photography.

CONSULTANTS Gabriele Cavalera, Eduardo Fichera, Giovanni Lani

Help create the next edition of Urbino Now. (A parallel course is also available in multimedia journalism: Web text, photography, and video.)

WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO: Giuliana Sparaventi, ERSU Urbino, and the town of Urbino

For more information and to apply online, visit

ieiMedia 6 Shoreline Cove, Durham, NC 27703 USA

President and Director Andrew Ciofalo Executive Director Rachele Kanigel Admissions Director Heather Anderson

Urbino Program Director Dennis Chamberlin Urbino Magazine Program Director Susan West Urbino Magazine Instructors Lona Cobb Michael Gold

All rights reserved © 2011-2012 ieiMedia No material in Urbino Now may be reprinted without express permission of the publisher. Prices, hours and dates, and contact information are current as of the time of publication.


“For us to go to Italy and penetrate into Italy is like a most

fascinating act of self-discovery — back, back down the old ways

of time. Strange and wonderful chords awake in us, and vibrate again after many hundreds of years of complete forgetfulness.” —D.H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia


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For 16 American and Canadian college students—the writers and photographers of this magazine—there could be no better description of their four weeks in Urbino, Italy, during the summer of 2011. Urbino Now is the product of their self-discovery, of their explorations “back down the old ways of time.” The adventure started in early June, when, under the auspices of ieiMedia, a U.S.-based provider of study-abroad programs, professors Michael Gold, Lona Cobb, and I first met with the 16 students in a bright classroom on Urbino’s Via del Popolo. The goal for the next month was to create a travel magazine for English-speaking visitors to Urbino and the Marche. And, not incidentally, we wanted the students to learn all they could about international reporting and magazine journalism—by doing it. We started with some basic assumptions about you, our reader: We imagined that like most visitors, you want to learn about the food and wine, the art and culture, and the history of the region. But we suspected that you want to go deeper than the average tourist, really getting to know a place and its people. So the first thing our reporters learned was to think like you. And off they went to “penetrate Italy.” Penetrate they did. They got to know the Marchegiani—a barber (page 40), a painter (page 10), a gelato maker (page 39), a chef (page 30). They found the authentic take on nearby towns: the world beneath Fano (page 62) and the melancholic side of Urbania (page 70). On your behalf, they shopped at the Sunday market in Pesaro (page 66), toured by bike (page 78), sought out heart-stopping scenery in the Furlo Gorge (page 74) and the Monte San Bartolo park (page 84). They got curious: exploring a 400-year-old confraternity (page 54), finding out what it takes to restore a monastery (page 48), learning why the citizens of Schieti hold an annual stilt race (page 16), discovering the neighborhoods of Urbino (page 58), and unearthing the stories behind the Duomo’s statues (page 20). Like you, they reveled in the food and drink of the region, learning the secret of the region’s unique Verdicchio wine (page 24) and the intertwined history of a restaurant and its famous dish, cresce sfogliate (page 34). They also collected a lot of local wisdom in their four-week stay, which they impart to you in Go Native (page 6). These students achieved their learning goals so that you can achieve your travel goals. May Urbino Now help to awake “strange and wonderful chords” during your Italian journey. — Susan West, Editor in Chief

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A tonsorial history lesson, decorating tips, and a love story—it’s all part of a day with Pippi Busignani, the last traditional barber in Urbino. Plus: Where to get your hair cut in town, and how to talk to your stylist—in Italian. S T O RY A N D P H O T O S BY SYDNI DUNNNN


SANTA CHIARA’S FACELIFT When the restoration of the Monastery of Santa Chiara is finished in the fall of 2011, the biggest change will be… that nothing has changed. S T O RY A N D P H O T O S BY E M M A L I E VA N C E


FOUR HUNDRED YEARS OF GOOD WORKS The Confraternity of Death, a community-service brotherhood founded in 1595, still tends to Urbino’s citizens. Our reporter gets an inside look at its customs and treasures. Plus: Vote like it’s the 16th century.



You never notice Urbino’s contrade—neighborhoods—except when they square off for the town’s annual kite-flying battle. Here’s a guide to the hoods for the rest of the year. S T O RY BY J O R D A N H O W S E M A P BY J O H A N N A G U E VA R A


ON THE COVER Every year, the town of Schieti stages the Palio dei Trampoli—Race of Stilts—to celebrate a unique local tradition. See page 16. P H O T O BY Y U E W U


p. 3


p. 88

FANO p. 62 Beach Town With a Bonus. Plus: Fano’s floating restaurant, chariot races, and jazz by the sea Story and photos by Sarah Lorsch

p. 6

Michaelangelo’s favorite made-in-Urbino cheese, a graffiti guide, the wine customs of the piazza, and more: tips and tidbits to help you feel like a local

ARTS & CULTURE A RENAISSANCE ARTIST IN THE 21ST CENTURY p. 10 Painter Vitaliano Angelini takes his cues from the 16th century Story and photos by Sunny Thao HIGH STEPPING IN SCHIETI p. 16 On the course at the town’s annual stilt race Story by Bianca Pender :: Photos by Yue Wu THE DUOMO’S MYSTERIOUS SEVEN p. 20 Who are those silent figures surrounding the cathedral? Story and photos by Jamie Hunter TO DO / TO SEE p. 14 Street art in Pennabilli, a giant fish-fry in Porto San Giórgio, Renaissance hardball in Treia, openair opera in Macerata, and more summer events throughout Le Marche

PESARO p. 66 A Sunday Market for Shopaholics. Plus: Pesaro’s Rossini Festival, a spot on the beach, and sweet treats Story and photos by Victoria Staples URBANIA p. 70 Maiolica, Mummies, and More. Plus: Urbania’s Palazzo Ducale and Barco Ducale Story and photos by Amanda Smith

OUTDOORS TRAILS, AND FOSSILS, AND TRUFFLES— OH MY! p. 74 The Furlo Gorge has it all. Plus: Fun with donkeys, an art walk, and other year-round events at the gorge Story and photos by Lindsey Kreger LE MARCHE ON TWO WHEELS p. 78 This 49-mile loop features a waterfall, a Roman town, painters both famous and not, and an awesome peach. Plus: How to plan the ride Story and photos by Caryn Maconi CAMPING WITH AN OCEAN VIEW p. 84 A soul-refreshing encounter with nature awaits you at the Monte San Bartolo nature park Story and photos by Madelyn Wigle

MANGIA BENE VERSATILE VERDICCHIO p. 24 The story of Le Marche’s best vino bianco. Plus: Tasteful pairings Story and photos by Rosa Castañeda GIAMMARINI’S SECRET RECIPE p. 30 A chef in Ortezzano makes traditional dishes with a modern twist. Plus: A recipe for Olive all’Ascolana Story and photos by Jalila Singerff

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SMALL BITES p. 38 Savor Urbino’s home-made gelato; work on an organic livestock farm; sample local fare at Il Girarrosto


FAME AND FLATBREAD p. 34 At the Golden Spider restaurant, cresce sfogliate is more than just a favorite local dish Story and photos by Lauryn Smith

will eventually come to you. At restaurants, however, ask to be seated. W Lauryn Smith




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When you do as the Urbinati do,sitting outdoor at a caffè will surely become part of your daily routine. In that case, you’ll need to know a few things. © Don’t be surprised if there’s a charge on your bill for sitting outside. The fee is higher to cover the waiter’s extra service. © It’s likely that each item you order will cost more when you sit outside. For example, a cappuccino that costs one euro inside might cost you 1,50 euros outside. Some caffès will post a menu that shows both indoor and outdoor prices. © Water is not free in most caffès. You can order by the glass, but a bottle is cheaper. © Be sure to carry cash; few places accept credit or debit cards. © At outdoor caffès, you can pick your own table; a waiter

OW TO ORD E R COFFEE, ITALIAN-STYLE A typical Italian coffee bar is no Starbucks. Instead of a big cup of joe, most Italians drink caffè espresso—a shot of extra-strong coffee in a tiny cup. When you order un caffè at a bar, that’s what you’ll get. If you want a bigger cup of coffee, try a cappuccino (espresso with steamed milk), caffè Americano, or caffè lungo. These last two are basically espresso diluted to American-strength coffee. And if you order a latte, be sure to stick the word caffè in front of it. Otherwise you’ll get a nice, cold glass of milk. W Caryn Maconi



If large men have a hard time buying clothes and shoes in the United States, you know they will have those same problems in Urbino. Don’t get discouraged, Big Guys. I have discovered where to find those hardto-find sizes and buy them without emptying my wal-

let: The Saturday market. Here are a few things to keep in mind: © If you are shopping for shorts or pants, make sure to translate your waist size and inseam length into European measurements: Multiply your American size by 2.54 to find out what it is in centimeters. If your waist size is 37 inches, for example,


you’ll want pants that measure 94 centimeters. © Need a shirt? Buy one at least a size larger than you would at home. You might not be familiar with the brand or the material and it may shrink during washing. If you usually wear an XXL shirt, look for an XXXL shirt. It should fit nicely. © Just like pants, shoes are sized differently in Italy than in the U.S. Check this website to find your European shoe size: shoes_mens.htm. © If your shoe size is larger than a 10 you might have a problem, but don’t give up your search. The vendor may not have put the larg-

er shoes on display. Ask to see the largest sizes available. You might get lucky and find that size 13. © Finally, don’t get frustrated. There are plenty of sellers every Saturday. I guarantee that you will find that perfect fit. I have. W Jordan Holloway


F A M O U S C H E E S E Indigenous to the Pesaro-Urbino region, the soft, crumbly cheese called Casciotta d’ Urbino dates back to the great wedding banquets held in Le Marche from 1400 to 1600. It was this cheese that the Renaissance painter and sculptor Michelangelo asked for as he painted the ceiling of the


RBINO 101 So you think you know Urbino: You’ve wandered the town’s hills, visited the Ducal Palace, sipped wine and watched the evening passeggiata from your regular table on the Piazza della Repubblica. Here are some things you probably didn’t know… © Urbino was named for the two

o native It’s as if time slows down in Urbino. There

is more time to think… Urbino is like the Greek agora. It is a place to go exchange ideas & to reflect on things.

Vitaliano Angelini, Urbino artist. (Read a profile of Angelini on page 10.)

Sistine Chapel from 1508 to 1512. Today, locals eat the sheep- and cow-milk cheese alone, with honey, or with marmalade. The wine experts at Raffaelo Degusteria in Urbino pair the cheese with prosciutto—a thin salty ham—and the smooth white wine Bianchello del Metauro. W Rosa Castañeda


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mountains it sits upon: Urbs, which is now called Monte and is the site of the monument to Raphael, and Binos, the hill where the cathedral is located. © The Raphael Monument used to sit in front of the Ducal Palace until the city administration, in an effort to get tourists to visit other parts of town, moved it to its current location in the park at the top of Via Raffaello. © The University of Urbino is the largest money maker for the city, followed by tourism. © There is a superstition among Urbinati that says locals should not visit the Ducal Palace before college graduation, or they will have bad luck. © Each of the 10 neighbor-

hoods in Urbino was originally formed around a church. Only five of those churches still exist. © Urbino was designed to be “the ideal city” by Duke Federico da Montefeltro. © The only bus that will take you around the entire city is the Number 3. Put down your wine glass and board the bus at the Piazza della Repubblica. W Jordan Howse


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O M E T I M E S G R A F F I TI I S J U S T G R A F F I T I As you explore the winding alleys of Urbino, you’ll no doubt encounter arrays of lettering and cartoon-like designs covering the city’s vacant walls. The graffiti, which is embraced by the student population if not

the townspeople, adds a modern twist to this ancient Renaissance city. Likewise divided are the interpretations of the meaning of the street art. Take the fan favorite just off Via Veneto that displays the word “Urbinzoo” surrounded by initials and gold-colored animals, including what appear to be monkeys. Peter Cullen, Texas native and business professor at the University of Urbino, says this graffito signals that the city’s younger generation feels trapped, as if they were locked in a zoo cage. The cartoon simian, he says, is “the monkey on the backs of the students,” that is, the culture and political scheme of the region. No way, says Frederico Cirilli, a 25-year-old foreign languag-

es and business student who is one of the taggers. “Urbinzoo is just a crew. We were a group of people from all around Italy, especially from southern Italy, and we met here in Urbino.” He says a friend tagged the wall with the group name to leave his mark in Urbino. The animals that surround the title represent members of the group, each person symbolized by a different critter. “The graffiti reflects a lot of our personalities,” he says. “I like knowing that when I come back to Urbino, it will be there. We left our mark.” W Sydni Dunn



First the bad news: Strikes are common across Italy, especially in the railroad industry. Now the good news: Strikes are planned in advance, and train stations often post information on upcoming shut-downs, including dates and times. If you catch wind of a possible strike, follow this advice to make sure you still get where you’re going:


time, and they’ll get you to your destination eventually. W Caryn Maconi


W Lindsey Kreger


INE WALK Order a glass of your favorite wine at Caffé Basili and stroll the Piazza Della Repubblica, mixing with the crowd. Walking the streets with a glass of wine is the custom in Urbino. There’s just one rule to follow: Return your glass! In a risk-taking mood? Order the new “Japanese” drink, which consists of lemon juice, gin, midori liquor, and lemon soda. W Jalila Singerff


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© Visit the website for the latest news on upcoming strikes or strikes in progress. © At the station, look out for the Italian word for strike: sciopero. Take note of the dates and times and try to plan your upcoming travel to avoid them. © Check for your train on the sign that says Partenze (Departures). If you see the letters “SOP” or the word Indefinito, that means your train has been canceled. Head to the ticket office and they’ll let you know your options. © Don’t validate your ticket until a few minutes before your train is scheduled to leave, because only non-validated tickets are refundable. (When you travel by train in Italy, you must always validate your ticket, which means getting it stamped with the date and time at one of those little yellow boxes you see all around stations.) © Try not to stress. You may be re-routed miles out of your way, but the employees at the ticket office deal with strikes all the

RADUATION ITALIAN-STYLE If you visit Urbino during the summer, you may see young adults wearing wreaths of fresh roses and leaves wandering the streets and piazzas, serenaded loudly by boisterous groups of people. If you listen carefully, you may be able make out the words of the song: Dottore, dottore dottore del buco del cul vaffancul vaffancul! What’s going on? The wreath-wearer is a student who has just graduated from the university—a newly minted dottore, or “doctor.” The serenaders are family and friends, and the chant they sing is an Italian tradition, albeit an off-color one. “It’s normal in Urbino and pretty much everywhere in Italy,” explains University of Urbino language student Luca Ambrogiani, “to make fun of the dottore with posters all around the place and embarrassing costumes.” But it’s the song that’s most likely to cause blushes. “This

chant is supposed to be funny and embarrassing,” language instructor Francesca Carducci says. “It is a very colorful song.” If you must know just how colorful, you can translate the lyrics online, but keep in mind that the song is meant to be fun. And next time you see a graduate, join in!


A RENAISSAN ARTIST IN TH 21ST CENTU shuffles into his studio without introduction and without a smile. He seems accustomed to spectators. He stands six feet tall and delivers a vice-like handshake, but his presence is somehow comforting. He pulls up a stool. In a soft, gravelly voice, he apologizes for the mess. The small, low-ceilinged studio on the outskirts of Urbino smells like dust and fresh paint. The walls are dotted with ink prints and pencil-and-charcoal drawings. Tables are strewn with carving tools and art catalogues. Tubes of orange and blue pigment lie among metal spatulas and yellowed newspaper clippings. Trophies and awards gather dust on high shelves above a comic strip-like sign that reads: “¡Silencio, aqui trabaja un genio! ”— “Silence, here works a genius!” Dozens of framed paintings lean against a wall, most as color-

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Urbino native and artist Vitaliano Angelini — here with a landscape — draws inspiration from the Renaissance.


T f h

sionistic manner; slashing paint strokes and a dark, intense palette depicted equally emotive subjects. Among the paintings stacked against the wall of his studio is a case in point, his Incontro a Samarcanda, or Meeting in Samarkand. Based on Italian singer Roberto Vecchioni’s song about death, it is a morose piece made of arching black lines and thick red paint, punctuated with smears of charcoal. Later, expressionism shifted

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his style as a mix of critical realism, abstract, and expressionism, and his mediums are even more eclectic. But at heart, Angelini is a man of only two worlds. Like his hometown, Urbino, a 16th century city against a 21st century backdrop, his art is known for its unique, often subtle, fusion of Renaissance ideals and modernity. Angelini’s style is hard to pinpoint. Earlier in his career, his art embodied an expres-


ful and abstract as Angelini’s philosophies. He shares these guiding beliefs when least expected: “Existence is the relationship between you and everything else.” “You can never be yourself, because you are always changing.” “Everyone should be like spring.” A leader in Italy’s contemporary art scene, Angelini has been creating art for more than 50 years. The academics brand


After Angelini’s return to Urbino, the Renaissance

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began influencing his work. to critical realism or to abstract, in pieces like La Luna–The Moon–a circle within a circle offset with jagged, multicolored checkerboards. The mediums too changed, from canvas to wood, from painting to engraving, from cartography to lithography. There is no logical time frame for any of these shifts. There is only a change in Angelini’s mood. “I want to be free to reinvent myself,” he says. “I don’t want to be stuck to one form, to one medium.” In following a constant cycle of experimentation, Angelini embraces one of his core philosophies: People and the world are

always changing, and we need to accept that. Such ideas were very much part of the humanistic thinking that defined the Renaissance. Historians tell us that humanism elevated the value of a man’s life on earth and gave people the opportunity to recreate and redefine their lives. Rather than let the Catholic Church’s precepts define their wellbeing, people were now encouraged to realize their true potentials. This realization, humanists believed, required a return to the Golden Age of the ancient Greeks and Romans. “People during the Renaissance went back to the Greek

and Roman classics, because they wanted to get out of the Dark Ages,” says Bonita Cleri, a professor of art history at the University of Urbino. “They were trying to renew themselves because they felt as if art had died.” Renaissance. Rinascimiento. Literally, “rebirth.” Angelini’s renewal began in 1974 when he was almost killed by a terrorist bombing of the Piazza della Loggia in Brescia, Italy, during an anti-fascist protest. Eight people died. At the time, Angelini was living in Brescia with his wife, who was pregnant with their son. The couple returned to Urbino,

Angelini’s Relief and Circumferences, an engraving on terracotta, shows his obsession with circles—a symbol of perfection.

beauty, breathing the same air.” Professor Cleri agrees. “Even though we’re no longer in the Renaissance, people here are, somehow, conditioned to think that way,” she says. “Modern architecture here still applies the principles used in the Renaissance.” With all of these structures surrounding him, Angelini says, being influenced by the Renaissance is “unavoidable.” Echoes of the ancient ideas are apparent in even the most abstract of his works. Titian’s La Venere di Urbino, or The Venus of Urbino, which depicts a beautiful nude woman reclining in a chair, inspired Angelini’s own version

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of beauty, harmony, and rhythm. For example, the city’s most famous structure, the Palazzo Ducale, and the towers on its fortezza, or fortress, were built for beauty’s sake as well as for selfdefense, historians say. Urbino’s duke, Federico da Montefeltro, and his architects, Luciano Laurana and Francesco di Giorgio Martini, constructed the city this way in an attempt to exemplify these ideals. According to Angelini, the Palazzo is harmonious because of its geometry, and the towers are beautiful. “For people who live in Urbino, you are living the same ideas that made this place,” he says. “You are living in that ideal


seeking a quieter and safer place to raise a family. It was upon returning to his hometown that the Renaissance began to influence his work. Angelini is suddenly on his feet, rushing to a far corner of his studio where a painting hangs next to a wall of bookshelves. He points eagerly to La Muralla, or The Mural, an abstract rendering of Urbino’s landscape in green and dark earth tones set off by valleys of red. “People who have been to Urbino always go back,” he says. “It is an inspiring, abstract city.” Urbino is abstract, Angelini explains, because it seems stuck in time, embodying the Renaissance ideals

Angelini’s style mixes realism, abstraction, and expressionism; his mediums include paint, engraving, and lithography.

of the piece: chaotic charcoal images of women with bulging limbs and sagging, wrinkled faces. Angelini calls his interpretation “ironic,” because the women portrayed are ugly, not beautiful like the one in Titian’s painting. Circles, shapes that many of the ancient Greeks believed to be geometric perfection, are another of Angelini’s muses. In his pieces, circles appear as large,

dominant images. Many of these circular-themed canvasses are striking, intriguing works that provoke deeper thought or, at least, are aesthetically pleasing. His La Luna Nera–The Black Moon–features mysterious black and blue circles contrasted by geometric patterns in orange, gold, and red. His Omaggio della Piero della Francesca is inspired by fresco master Piero della Francesca’s portrait of the Vir-

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Pennabilli: June Jugglers, mimes, magicians, and artists from all over the world fill the streets of this scenic town as well as the stage of Teatro Vittoria. Info:

gin Mary. Angelini’s vision is a darker, deep-colored canvas featuring circles within circles. The effect is hypnotic. “I am obsessed with circles,” he says. “I strive for that roundness in my life and in my work.”

Though the Renaissance shapes his art, Angelini contradicts many of its principles. During the Renaissance, peo-

Listings by Jamie Hunter, Bianca Pender, and Sunny Thao


Urbino: September Purchase or make a kite for colorful citywide competitions during the windiest time of the year. Info:


Urbino: June The Festival of San Crescentino, Urbino’s patron saint, includes choral concerts and a parade that carries his statue through town. Info:


ple were encouraged to strive for perfection, be it in art, science, philosophy, or whichever vocation they chose. Raphael underwent grueling training to perfect his painting. Michelangelo studied corpses so closely—in pursuit of anatomical correctness—that he became ill from the exposure. “Being precise isn’t important,” says Angelini. “There is beauty in imperfection.” This shows in his art, which is a far cry from Michelangelo’s down-to-the-last-vein accuracy or from Raphael’s intricate masterpiece The School of Athens. Rather, many of Angelini’s works are of bold, intense swaths of paint, of jagged lines and of obscure human figures, of abstract shapes laced with gold leaf. It is not at all Renaissance, and yet very Renaissance: The geometry creates harmony,


Urbino, Pesaro: June Enjoy live music of eclectic genres at Festa dello Studente, a three-day celebration hosted by university students.


Falerone, Urbisaglia: July & Aug Classical theater performances in some of the best Roman amphitheaters in the region. Info: 0734 710 115 (Falerone), 0733 506 385 (Urbisaglia)

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Porto San Giórgio: July This coastal town’s Festa del Mare boasts a procession of fishing boats and the “giant Adriatic pan” to fry up 2,000 pounds of sardines and squid. Info: comune.portosangiorgio.

has come home. Like spring, like nature’s cycles of death and rebirth, Angelini has come full circle. From a wall of paintings in his studio, Angelini pulls down a framed canvas the size of a small table. His voice is calm and his face unreadable as he discusses the piece. He smiles only rarely, but it isn’t from a lack of enthusiasm. He is a bearded sage, quietly content. For him, being an artist is not about perfection or about fame, and not even about being understood. Instead, ever the Renaissance man, art is about self-discovery, about taking control of your potential. “Through this path of art, I wanted the freedom to contradict myself,” Angelini says. “Do not worry about being coherent. Having that freedom to change is being coherent. It is enough.” h



the lines a sense of rhythm, and, depending on the eyes of the beholder, beauty. Like his Renaissance predecessors, Angelini returns to the old ways of thinking, even if part of his inspiration comes from rejecting them. He too escaped a “Dark Age,” fleeing death in the Piazza della Loggia and renewing himself, fittingly, in Urbino, a place of rebirth. And there is yet another Renaissance-inspired circular motif in his work and his life. He has been exhibited worldwide, from Paris to Tokyo, Copenhagen to New York, Berlin to Rome. But in the summer of 2011, his work was featured in the Palazzo Ducale, in the Sala di Castelare, or Room of Castelare, where only the most prestigious artists are featured. Just as he once returned to Urbino to raise his son, Angelini’s art too




S T O RY BY B I A N C A P E N D E R : : P H O T O S BY Y U E W U



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Schieti’s stilt festival features not only races but also music, costumes, and street theater.

A R T S & CULT UR E I T ’ S A SU N N Y , windy Sunday

afternoon in Schieti, as five racers prepare for the final event of the town’s fourteenth annual Palio dei Trampoli. Crowds gather on either side of the street, and the cheering starts even before the contest begins. Although the late afternoon heat is nearly unbearable, the racers eagerly grab their gear and head to the

top of the town of Schieti. The stilts were made of wood, and the older they got, the lighter they became, enabling the racers to go faster. The stilts were made by weaving osier, a tough wood from the branches of a willow tree. Using the same techniques from decades ago, the elders of Schieti and surrounding communities construct the stilts for

starting line. From there, they will make their way along the 300-yard, uphill course through the center of this ancient walled city. The announcer calls out, “Tre, due, uno!” And the competitors are off—on stilts! Palio dei Trampoli means “race of stilts,” and this unique two-day event, which takes place every June, is dedicated to celebrating a local tradition. In the 1940s, miners and farmers needed to cross the nearby Foglia River in order to go to and from work and to sell their products. It wasn’t long before the locals started holding summer stiltwalking races to the castle at the

modern-day competitors. Only 10 seconds into today’s race, I can feel the excitement of the crowd build. The tops of the contestants’ heads appear as they come up the hill. It struck me as a hard climb when I tried it earlier in the day, but it doesn’t seem to bother the racers. With “legs” as long as giraffes, putting one stilt in front of the other at a practical pace, they take extended strides along the narrow concrete road. On their faces are looks of concentration and determination. Suddenly the crowd around me is silent. Something has happened to one of the racers. News spreads that a man named Mas-

simo Clandrini had fallen a few seconds after leaving the starting line. Apparently he took all of five seconds to climb back up on his stilts and resume the race— because we now see another figure bringing up the rear. The Palio dei Trampoli is organized by an association called Centro Socio Culturale Don Italo Mancini. People from the five neighborhoods of La Villa, Castello, Calcioppo, Ca’ Matteo, and Lago compete in the race. Participants are between the ages of 15 and 70. “Those who don’t train race for fun,” said Massimiliano Sirotti, the association’s president. “Participants who really take the race seriously begin practicing in March and April.” Every year, preliminary races are held on a Saturday, the first day of the festivities. Then on Sunday, all the Saturday finalists compete. This year’s finalists have now made it past the main hill and are passing in front of me, beads of sweat rolling down their fac-

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Pesaro: August Sponsored by the city of Rossini’s birth, the festival showcases his operas at—where else?— Teatro Rossini. Info:


Caldarola: 1st two Sun. in Aug. At the Giostra della Castella, you can enjoy local wine and food, and watch ancient games, including archery, duck races, and jousting. Info:


Ancona: September A week-long celebration of music, movies, art, and poetry from the Adriatic and Mediterranean basins. Info:

es. One young racer bounces along on his stilts, looking light as a feather. Three others keep a steady pace. Clandrini, the man who fell, trails behind but is pushing along. Although he looks as if he must be in his sixties, he seems to have the heart of a person half his age. Most of those attending the Palio are not racing, but they

running barely two minutes, but they are now reaching the finish line. The youngster, 15-yearold Cecchini Simone, takes first place. Behind him are Marco Pardini, Elia Taini, and Nicola Taini. Massimo Clandrini, due to his fall, comes in fifth. The spectators cheer louder and louder as they wait for the official announcement of the winners.

celebrate the traditions and spirit of the region in many other ways. Strolling through the town are dukes, duchesses, knights in armor. Other medieval characters are on horseback. Folk musicians perform and merchants sell jewelry, wood carvings, leatherwork, candles, and pictures. Ice cream and pasta are plentiful. At one point earlier in the day, I saw two young men doing tricks on stilts, climbing onto balconies, tossing and catching hats. One of the most entertaining sights: watching amateurs trying to walk on stilts. The stilt-racers have been

All the racers are presented with wine and cheese. For coming in first, young Simone also gets a trophy and a vase. And the neighborhood of Calcioppo is honored for having the highest team score for all the races. Simone and the others hold their awards high above their heads. As the latest Palio dei Trampoli winds down, members of all 5 neighborhood teams celebrate and dance to the folk music that fills the air. Family and friends embrace the racers and congratulate them on a job well done. No doubt everyone is looking forward to next year and another great race. h

Amandola: August to September The festival’s performances are staged on the winding roads of this medieval town. Info: 0736 840 704


Ascoli Piceno: 1st Sunday in Aug This medieval festival presents a large parade of costumed locals and a jousting contest among six neighborhood teams. Info:

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Castignano: July For the 3-day Templaria Festival, the city’s historic center recalls the medieval world of the Knights Templar: re-enactments, music, banquets, & artisans’ shops. Info:


Centro Socio Culturale Don Italo Mancini Via del Castello, 6 - 61029 Schieti di Urbino





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Five figures are perched on the church itself. From left: Saint Augustine, Faith, Hope, Charity, and Saint John Chrysostom.


to know about the statues, but

stand motionless around the Duomo in Urbino. Their faces are smooth and pale under the Italian sun. College students and lifelong residents pass them by without as much as a sideways glance. The figures stand cold and silent despite gawking tourists taking photographs, inclement weather, and the passing of time. Although each is unique, they share one defining characteristic: They are all statues. Surprisingly little information is readily available about these silent guardians of Urbino’s cathedral. There are no carvings or plaques on the statues. The tourist office has no literature about them. Even people who have lived in Urbino for years cannot offer much help about who or what these characters represent and why they deserve such honored positions and reverence. “Every time I walk by

it, I have to stop and look at it,” said Eduardo Fichera, a longtime Urbinate. “I have so many pictures of this statue but I do not know who it is.” It was a mystery that brought out my inner Nancy Drew. Who were these people standing on top of and alongside the Duomo, and what did they do for the city of Urbino? I quickly learned that this was a subject that is un-Googleable. I would try old-fashioned foot-work. During one of my frequent stops at the Museo Diocesano Albani, the church museum beside the Duomo, I met someone who could help: Marco Bartolucci, who works the museum desk. A student in Urbino, he also moonlights as a tour guide so he knows where to unearth certain information. He told me that there had been an expert who knew everything there was

that he died several years ago. Luckily, Bartolucci was able to find a book in the museum about the history of the Duomo. It was written in Italian, but Bartolucci agreed to help translate the text. What we found surprised us both. The three female statues standing atop the Duomo don’t representative actual people. Instead they embody Catholicism’s theological virtues: Faith stands on the far left of the building’s highest roof. At the center, Hope holds a harp to her chest, reaching one hand out toward the heavens like her sister, Faith. Charity, standing at the far right, is holding a child and might easily be mistaken for the Virgin Mary. The figures positioned at less lofty locations on and around the Duomo are larger and more detailed than Faith, Hope, and

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the statue with a serpent below






Charity. I took this to mean that they were more than human, but less than perfect. In fact, the two figures perched conspicuously on either side of the lower roof are saints. Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, stands to the left, holding a staff. Augustine was born in the year 354 and died in 430. He was a great philosopher who believed the grace of Christ was vital to human freedom. His writings were important in the development of western Christianity. Flanking the statue of Saint Augustine on the right side of the lower roof is Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople. Born in Antioch in the year 347, he is commonly considered the most prominent

doctor of the Greek Church and the greatest preacher ever heard in the Christian pulpit. With a surname that means “golden mouthed,” John was known for

translucency and the lines of sediment running through the marble give the statues the appearance of having alabasterlike skin, with veins visible be-

his eloquence in public speaking and his condemnation of authoritative abuse by ecclesiastical and political leaders. Much closer to ground level, standing upon pedestals on either side of the Duomo’s front entrance, are Urbino’s patron, Saint Crescentino, and former Bishop, Beano Mainardo. Their statues are the newest, erected around 155 years ago. The marble that they are carved of is from the nearby valley of Furlo, the same material used for the other statures as well as the entire façade of the Duomo. Here, so close to eye-level, the stone’s

neath the surface. Blessed Beano Mainardo stands to the right of the Duomo stairs. Once Bishop of Urbino, his sharp jaw and furrowed brow make him appear stern. Like a high-school principle he stands with his arms nearly crossed, watching people walk up and down the street in front of the Duomo. According to a book belonging to Bartolucci’s mother, entitled San Crescenziano di Citta di Castillo, in 1068 Mainardo asked Bishop Fulcone of Tiferno, in the neighboring region of Umbria, for relics to enrich his ca-

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Fossombrone: June Relive the Renaissance days of Cardinal Giulio della Rovere with juggling, egg tosses, singing, and dancing. Info: 0721 723 234


Montelabbate: July Enjoy food, fun, and games dedicated to the delicious fruit that is grown throughout the region. Info:


Castelfidardo: Sept or Oct A world-famous festival dedicated to everything accordion abounds with dancing and music-making. Info:

Urbino’s patron Saint, San Crescentino, stands to the left of the Duomo’s steps with a dragon at his feet. Bishop Mainardo (not shown) stands on the right.

thedral. (Relics in those days often meant body parts of a saint.) Fulcone agreed, but his deal had a catch. Not wanting to be without relics for his own church, he gave Mainardo the body of San Crescentino, but kept the martyr’s head for himself. Thus it came to be that the city of Urbino got its patron saint—all but his head, anyway. At least the statue of Urbino’s patron is fully intact. Probably the most engaging of the seven figures around the Duomo, San Crescentino stands

Macerata: July and August Attend a performance of this worldfamous opera season, staged in the Sferisterio, a nearly 200-year-old neo classical outdoor arena. Info:, 0733 230 735


Urbino: August Dance, eat, and enjoy arts and poetry during Festa del Duca, a celebration in honor of Urbino’s great Renaissance duke. Info:

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Treia: 1st Sunday in August At the center of this fair is Disfida del Bracciale, a fast and intense Renaissance ball game played with a bracelet lined with wooden teeth. Info: treia.htm




opposite Bishop Mainardo on the left side of the long front stairway. Crescentino wears military attire and is much younger than the others, and has a dragon at his feet (which some passers-by assume to be a serpent). A Roman soldier turned Christian evangelist, Crescentino fled to Umbria and found refuge at what is now called Citta di Castillo (formerly Tiferno) to escape persecution from the Roman emperor Diocletian. Legend says that the countryside around the city was overtaken by a dragon, which, with its pestilential breath, blew a devastating disease down upon the people. In early Christianity, dragons were used metaphorically to represent Satan or an evil presence such as a war or plague. Crescentino slew the dragon, the story goes, and then gave his armor and horse to the people of the village. He built a shelter with his own two hands, and spent the remainder of his days there, helping the poor and the sick, until he was found and beheaded by the army he once fought alongside. On the first of June, people from all over the Marche region celebrate San Crescentino with a parade and a feast. They carry a statue of Urbino’s patron saint through the streets of the city, up the steps of the Duomo and into the cathedral. The celebrants pass right by the permanent statue of the very same dragon-slaying saint, one whose identity remains a mystery to most people on every other day of the year. h





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trees flash by, contrasting with the dense blue sky. I peel away the strands of hair stuck to my sweaty face as we drive on a gravel road into a sunny valley of the southern Marche. Parallel lines of grapevines sort themselves into sketches on the unveiling landscape. I’m in the land of the legendary wine-producing Verdicchio grape. Arianna Gerini and I drive through the village of Maiolati Spontini, just west of Jesi, where the Monte Schiavo winery is headquartered. Gerini, director of public relations for the winery, tells me, “This is the perfect area. You have Verdicchio how it should be.” That’s just what I hoped to hear. In no place other than this specific geographical area can the Verdicchio grape be cultivated to produce one of Italy’s best vino bianchi—Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. I’m here to find out how this versatile 700-yearold grape allows the creation of so many distinct types of white wines. We soon see the sign for the Monte Schiavo winery. To my right, steel tanks reach as high as the four-story white factory next to them. We turn left, and Gerini points out the enoteca—the wine shop—which looks like a country house encircled

I’m here to learn how this 7oo-year-old grape produces so many distinct types of white wines.


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The Verdicchio grape is perfectly matched to the land and climate near Jesi, where it has grown since the 14th century.

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M A NGI A BENE by a few trees and a sea of red-grape vineyards. As I step from the car into the 32 degree Celsius (90 degree Fahrenheit) oven outside, Andrea Pieralisi welcomes me with a firm handshake. Pieralisi is managing director of Monte Schiavo and part of the family that has owned the winery since 1995. I also meet Gustantino Capogrossi, the company’s agronomist and the man who knows the grapes from their DNA to their flavors. Pieralisi says the vineyards should be our first stop, so the four of us pile into a small SUV and head north toward the Verdicchio plantations. In the jolting car I try to take pictures through the mud-spotted windows as I ask about the origins of the Verdicchio vineyards. “There used to be people making wine here but with different grapes,” Capogrossi says. In the 14th century, the plague wiped out both the population and their wine-making. After this, northern Italians migrated to Le Marche and started cultivating new grapes. “Most likely Verdicchio,” Capogrossi says. After a short drive back through Maiolati Spontini and into a forest, we get out of the car into a clearing at the top of a hill. Across the vineyardcovered valley, the Apennine Mountains touch the sky and extend east to the Adriatic Sea. These are the vineyards of the five major Verdicchio wine producers, and include Monte Schiavo’s 120 hectares (300 acres). I ask Capogrossi about the unique characteristics of the land that allow the farming of this grape. “It is the 200 to 300 meters [650 to 985 feet] above sea level, the sand, the soil, the weather, water, and wind that go perfectly with the growth of Verdicchio,” Capogrossi says, pointing to the vineyards that extend from our feet to the horizon. Pieralisi says, “We call this grape autochthonous.” It means

“indigenous” or “originating where found.” The land and the grape are a perfect match. Capogrossi tells me there are 190 kinds of Verdicchio grapes, but only 30 to 35 are suited for wine. Of those, Monte Schiavo uses half a dozen. The resulting Verdicchio wine produces 80 percent of Monte Schiavo’s income. That statistic doesn’t surprise Alberto Crinella, wine expert and co-owner of Raffaelo Degusteria in Urbino. He says that even though Verdicchio is just beginning to gain recognition, it is probably the best vino bianco in Italy. “Verdicchio has become one of the most important wines. In this moment it is the most important in the Mediterranean,” Crinella says. “It is the drinkability, the persistence of senses from your nose to your palate, the versatility of the grape. Few places in the

Monte Schiavo’s Superiore wine, left, is a goldmedal winner. This page, both reds and whites age in the winery’s cellars.

meaning green. Holding the marble-sized grapes in one hand, he moves the other from the green cordon—the branch holding the grape clusters— to the robust sepia trunk of the vine. The thick trunk, he says, is vital to the grape and the wine because it can withstand cold and drought. Throughout the year, the temperature ranges from 5 to 35 degrees Celsius (40 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the vineyards are not usually watered. The vine’s resilience is what allows the production of Monte Schiavo’s four varieties of Verdicchio wine: Classico, Superiore, Riserva, and Passito. 27

We are back inside the enoteca. On a long wooden table, Gerini positions the four types of Verdicchio wines in front of me, all chilled at 12 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit). She opens up Coste del

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world have this possibility.” The American importer of Monte Schiavo’s wine agrees. The quality of Verdicchio is unparalleled, says Vince Lombardi of American Importing/Exporting Inc., and the wine has the potential to become popular among American consumers. “In the past, the American consumer has been reluctant to change,” says Lombardi. “Pinot Grigio still is, for the most part, the number one white wine Italian grape variety preferred. Fortunately, technology has enabled the consumer to obtain information and to learn via the Internet.” In the vineyards, the four of us walk down slope between two rows of vines that are 10 feet tall. Capogrossi reaches into the leaves and brings a fluorescent yellow-green bundle of grapes before me. That color gives Verdicchio its name: verde,

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Molino—the Classico. She pours four ounces into a glass, swirls the wine, and pours it out. “This is to clean the glass and get rid of any other flavors,” Gerini says. She refills the glass with the Classico and hands it to me. Coste del Molino won the 2011 gold medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards. The wine is crystal-clear with a hint of strawyellow. The acidic grape and citrus fumes make my nose tingle. The aroma mingles with the dry and bitter taste. The grape for this wine is harvested in early October. September is usually the beginning of the grape harvest and produces acidic wines; the later the harvest, the higher the grapes’ sugar content and the sweeter the wine. Next, Gerini pours a glass of Pallio di San Floriano—the Superiore. This wine received the gold medal in the 2011 International Wine Challenge in London for the best white wine fermented in steel. These grapes are harvested throughout October. As I sip the greenish and straw-colored wine, it tastes like a completely different wine—yet it is still Verdicchio. The hint of apple and pear with the delicate texture of the wine makes for a harmonious combination of a prolonged fruity and bitter taste. Both the Classico and the Superiore are “young wines” with high acidity, best drunk within two years after a year of aging in the bottle. Now for the mature wines—the Riserva and

the Passito. These may be drunk 10 years after being bottled. Says Lombardi, “Unlike many other white wines, aside from French Chardonnay, Verdicchio benefits from aging.” Le Giuncare—the Riserva—smells like tropical fruits. I sip the golden wine, the stronger color indicating its maturity. It is smooth and full-bodied, the perfect sweetness for me. The grapes for the Riserva are harvested during the second half of October. The complexity of the flavor comes from the distinctive wine-making process: 25 percent of the grape juice is fermented in oak barrels for nine months while the rest ferments in steel tanks. After this, the wine in oak is added to that in steel for an additional nine months. The wine then spends four to six months in the bottle. Finally, I sample the dense and shiny bronzecolored Archè—the Passito. This is as sweet as honey. The high sugar content comes from a late harvest during the first 10 days of December. I taste the maturity of ripened fruit. The remnants of the heavy wine—lacrime, or tears—slowly make their way to the bottom of the glass. Even though Italy leads the world in wine consumption, the way wine has been drunk in this country has changed. Crinella says that 30 years ago, wine was simply part of a meal—un alimento che dà forza.

MONTE SCHIAVO WINERY Maiolati Spontini, Italy 0731 700 385

To tour the Monte Schiavo winery, e-mail or call to schedule a time. The best month to visit is June. To find Verdicchio wine in the United States, contact Siena Imports at info@ or 415 285 9675.

TASTEFUL PAIRINGS Verdicchio wine is delicious on its own, but when combined with certain food, it delivers a whole new taste experience. Casciotta d’Urbino, a crumbly cheese indigenous to Le Marche (see page 7), goes well with any Verdicchio wine. With young Verdicchios—Coste del Molino and Pallio di San Floriano—young cheeses are best, particularly cream cheese. But keep in mind this advice from Arianna Gerini, director of public relations for the Monte Schiavo winery: “Più dolce è il vino, meglio si abbina con il formaggio.” The sweeter the wine, the better it pairs with cheese. That means the yummiest matches for cheese are the sweeter Verdicchios such as Le Giuncare and Arché.

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­­— R.C.


But acidic wines are better with meals. Try Coste del Molino with pastas, risottos, and boiled fish. Pallio di San Floriano complements fish pastas, white meats, and soups.

Wine was drunk for strength. But wine culture has changed. “You just drink it to drink it,” says Crinella. “It’s a common thing in Italy. It’s our life in Italy.” Having been in Italy for three weeks now, I know that red or white, wine is part of an Italian’s everyday life. I see people throughout the day sitting at a bar or café with a wine glass at hand. And what occasion is Verdicchio for? “All. All. All,” Pieralisi says. “Parties, weddings, funerals.” He laughs. “For all festivities and holidays…yet it is not like whisky. Wine is for the taste, the smell, to really enjoy the difference. It is a good way to spend free time.” Certamente!—Indeed it is! h


giammarini’s secret recipe: Culture + Cuisine


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PiazzaM.Savini,1Ortezzano,Italy 0734 778 000 Open Monday and Wednesday through Friday 7:30 p.m.-midnight; Saturday & Sunday noon-2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.-midnight. Closed Tuesday.





That describes the southern Marche town of Ortezzano, with its Greek and Roman ruins and mountains as far as the eye can see. That also describes Giampiero Giammarini, born just 10 miles away in tiny Torchiaro and dressed today in red jeans and a red T-shirt. (“It is my day off; is it okay that I wear this?” he asks as we meet.) And from the outside, I Piceni, Giammarini’s restaurant in Ortezzano, also appears quiet, comforting, and homey. Housed in a castle that’s been standing since the Middle Ages, it seems to be a typical, small Italian restaurant. But as I walk inside with tall, dark Giammarini, I realize I Piceni is not so typical after all. Roman shields hang on the rough walls, but crisp, white, modern furniture fills the rooms. It’s rustic with a modern twist—just like Giammarini’s food. And that’s what I’m here for: A lesson in how this award-winning chef takes traditional recipes and makes them modern. Giammarini makes me a cappuccino, and we walk back to a small stainless steel kitchen crammed with bins of olive oil and spices and stacked with pots and pans. He is relaxed and comfortable, talking about his life in the kitchen as though he has known me much longer than five minutes. “We are cooking olive all’ascolana today,”


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Giampiero Giammarini, chef at I Piceni restaurant in Ortezzano, prepares his updated version of a local dish, olive all’ascolana.

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M A NGI A BENE he says, referring to a specialty of the Marche town named Ascoli Piceno, a dish of meatballs that are stuffed with olives, then breaded and fried. Giammarini whips a white apron around his waist, and we begin. He fills a pot with chunks of raw turkey, veal, and pork, covers the meat with water, and sets the pot on the stove to cook. “We cook this until the water evaporates, okay?” “Okay,” I say, curious about combining three meats I would never have thought to mix together. As he reaches into a pile of olives, grown in nearby Ascoli Piceno, and begins to remove the pits, he explains that he was only 22 when he opened his first restaurant, Kings Pub, in 1983. Located on a beach in Porto San Giórgio, two hours south of Urbino, the restaurant was a great starting point, he says, but he sold it after only four years. He then tried the other end of the restaurant business—serving—first on a cruise ship and then at Rome’s top-rated Al Ceppo restaurant. By the 1990s, he had transitioned to sous-chef at Hostaria dell’Orso restaurant, situated in one of Rome’s historic buildings and famous for its piano-bar. Keeping one eye on the boiling pot of meat, Giammarini says that in 1995 he took a leap and moved to the United States. Boulevard Cafe and Trattoria on Lake Tahoe introduced him to Italian-style eating in the United States, and living in California introduced him to the Mexican culture. “The Mexicans influenced me and introduced me to dishes and ingredients I had never tried before,” he says, though there are no signs of Mexican food traditions in his dishes today. Next, he moved to La Veranda in Philadelphia; after seven successful years there, he was ready to return to Italy. By now, 20 minutes have gone by and Giamma-

rini’s attention again turns to the veal, turkey, and pork. The meat is ready to be ground. Giammarini disappears to the back kitchen and returns with the ground meat in a stainless steel bowl, completely different in texture and look from the ground beef I’m used to. This is one of his trademarks: With a machine typically used in Le Marche to shape pasta, he pushes the meat through little holes, creating swirly strings. Next, he adds nutmeg, salt, pepper, and lemon zest, his own flavoring twist on this traditional recipe. Then Giammarini presses the giant green olives into the balls of meat that he delicately shapes with his hands. As I watch the texture of the dish come alive, he says, “I use only local ingredients”—the meat and olives in this case. I watch as he dips each olive-stuffed meatball in beaten egg and rolls it around in bread crumbs. “I bring this recipe to Philadelphia,” he says with pride, returning to his theme of culinary crossfertilization. “Other countries influence, yes. They have opened my mind to work with many people and foods. I am influenced by French people, Mexican people, and even South African people. I try their cuisine, but of course I do not add their food to my menu. Italian culture is my story, but they opened my mind to what’s out there.” All these influences helped Giammarini put together a menu of both traditional Italian cuisine and international dishes with a twist when he opened I Piceni in 2002. “The menu offers duck breast, which is typically French, but in north Italy, I can try and make it Italian by adding a local red wine, Rosso Piceno,” he says. “The products are mostly Italian and I try to buy products from only local distributors and markets around the area, which allow the dish to become Italian, yet remain international.” But why Ortezzano, this town of 850? “Ortez-

GIAMMARINI’S OLIVE ALL’ASCOLANA 6 large green olives 100 grams (3.5 oz) veal 100 grams (3.5 oz) pork 100 grams (3.5 oz) turkey breast Zest of 1 lemon Pinch of nutmeg Pinch of salt and pepper 1 egg, beaten Flour Bread crumbs Olive oil Remove pit from each olive and set olives aside. Boil veal, pork, and turkey breast together in water until water has evaporated. Grind the meats together. Add lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to the meat. Then mix a quarter of the beaten egg into the ground meat, and shape the meat into small balls. Stuff one olive into each meatball and roll the meatballs in flour to cover. Dip each ball into the remainder of the beaten egg. Roll each ball in bread crumbs to cover. Fry the meatballs in olive oil until golden brown. --J.S Serve and enjoy!

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tured in many Italian food guides.” These Italian “eat-well” guides include the food magazine Gambero Rosso, the “slow food” guide Osterie d’Italia, the food and wine review Guida dell’Espresso, and even the Michelin Red Guide, the best-known European restaurant guide. Osterie d’Italia says of I Piceni, “The chef personalizes here and there a repertoire that you sense as being well-mastered, but strikes our memory, the memory of precise local rural tastes.” Giammarini brushes off the accolades as if every Italian chef is featured in nationally known guides. Twenty minutes have passed, and the meatballs are ready. Giammarini places them one by one on a dish and adds just a pinch of salt. I realize that he has turned fried food into an elegant dish. “It is for you, please eat.” I take my first bite. The taste of lemon and olive explode in my mouth, followed by the tender cooked meats. What a prelibatezza— what a delicacy! h


zano helps people relax. So does my food; it goes hand in hand. The place, the landscape, the many English-speaking people who live here, this is what attracts locals and tourists and allows them to enjoy themselves with the good food and wine while looking at the mountains.” Giammarini drops the perfectly breaded meatballs into the fryer. Pecorino or Passerina, which are sparkling white wines, nicely complement olive all’ascolana, he says. “The grapes from these wines are chosen from the south part of Le Marche. Pecorino means sheep cheese; it’s also the name of this grape. The sparkling wine cleans your mouth from the fried food after each bite.” The olive-stuffed meatballs sizzle, and my mouth begins to water. To distract myself I ask Giammarini about the awards he has led his restaurant to win. “David Shepard from La Vita Le Marche [an online guide to the region] named me the restaurant of the month one year. I am fea-


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Maria Guglielmi prepares the dough for cresce sfogliate, the flatbread that made Urbino’s Golden Spider restaurant famous.






beams as he hands freshly made cresce sfogliate to two young men relaxing on a sunlit patio just outside Il Ragno d’Oro, a restaurant located across from Urbino’s Raffaello Park. Seeing the boys’ expressions change from summer exhaustion to delighted anticipation, he contentedly returns to gathering empty dishes from tables and greeting customers as though they were family. It is a typical day for Piergiovani, son of one of the 23 founders of Il Ragno d’Oro—The Golden Spider—and now part-owner himself. The restaurant proudly serves cresce sfogliate, Urbino’s thin yet dense flatbread, often stuffed with prosciutto, as its specialty. Though the half-moon-shaped sandwich is made throughout the region, Il Ragno d’Oro’s loyalty to the original recipe marks both the dish’s and the restaurant’s gradual rise in popularity and fame among Urbinati. Cresce sfogliate could be called the street food of Urbino. Simple ingredients and a straightforward cooking process make the dish widely available in cafes throughout the area. It is made of flour, eggs, olive oil, salt, pepper, lard, and—at least at Il Ragno d’Oro—milk. Together, the components form a hearty, comfort-food meal. To some Urbinati, the bread’s history is that of legend. They claim that in the 15th century the sun fell in love with Urbino. The sun flew closer and closer to soak in the city’s beauty, and its rays tanVA L E R IO PI E RGIOVA N I


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Now, the visitors aren’t famous; the parties aren’t newsworthy. But one thing remains: cresce sfogliate. gled in the turrets of the Ducal Palace. As it tried to free itself, it left behind golden drops, inspiring La Fornarina, a young baker, to invent the flakey flatbread now known as cresce sfogliate. Regardless of the recipe’s actual origins, this stick-to-your-ribs dish prevailed as a staple for Italian farmers. “They needed something substantial because they had to work all day long,” Piergiovani says. Because the ingredients were readily available, it became tradition to bring cresce sfogliate on farmers’ treks into the fields. Il Ragno d’Oro was one of the first restaurants to bring the traditional food from the field to the menu. Born in 1946, the Spider quickly became a hopping place. Student organizations hosted summer gatherings at the restaurant. Many were sendoffs for the foreign students returning home from their studies at the Università degli Studi di Urbino “Carlo Bo.” Music and dancing livened the night. Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti regularly joined Carlo Bo–poet, Senator for Life of Italy, and professor and president at the university that later took his name–for a relaxing evening under the stars with blankets warming their laps. The years following the war beckoned well-known Italian instrumentalists and vocalists, such as Johnny Dorelli, to the restaurant to play upbeat tempos throughout the night for the sole purpose of forgetting tragedies and having fun. To top it all off, free local food was served

at midnight: cresce sfogliate. Things have changed. Now Piergiovani’s family is one of only two who run the business. The student organizations no longer exist. The visitors are not so famous. Newsworthy parties no longer occur. “Then again, everything changes,” Piergiovani says. “Nowadays it’s more quiet.” But one thing remains the same. Cresce sfogliate. “We are special because we are still respecting the original recipe,” Piergiovani says. This means that women with years of practice, such as Maria Guglielmi, are the only ones with their hands in the dough. With 15 years of cooking experience, Guglielmi prepares cresce sfogliate with ease. “The most important part of the process is that woman because she keeps the tradition alive,” Piergiovani says. The years of practice are vital when it comes to cooking homemade cresce sfogliate because the process requires precision and technique. To begin, Guglielmi combines all of the ingredients to create the dough. At Il Ragno d’Oro, the dough is made the night before it will be used. Letting it sit overnight not only saves time the next day, but the “rest” makes for a better final product. Then, every day at 4:15 p.m., Guglielmi prepares the cresce sfogliate. First, she uses a wooden rolling pin to flatten a lump of dough the size of a bowling ball to a one-inch thickness. Then she

IL RAGNO D’ORO Viale Don Minzoni, 2/4 0722 327 705

Pro tip: It is possible to savor Il Ragno d’Oro’s famous flatbread during the frigid months. Go to the restaurant before it closes in mid-September to buy cresce sfogliate in bulk and stockpile them in your freezer.

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d’Oro’s cresce sfogliate. On a typical weekday, customers order about 120 flatbreads and on weekends around 300, though it is not out of the ordinary for up to 900 flatbreads to be served in a single day. Diners have only six months each year to take advantage of the freshly homemade product; the restaurant closes during the fall and winter when the wet weather makes the trip up Via Raffaello treacherous. The distinct taste of Il Ragno d’Oro’s cresce sfogliate is what keeps people coming back. It’s like an Italian version of a quesadilla, though with simpler stuffings and more muted flavors. It is thicker than a tortilla and has a flakey yet doughy consistency. Commercial cresce sfogliate is crispy to the point of falling apart, but at Il Ragno d’Oro, the peppery dough is chewy and smooth. And when it’s stuffed with chunky tomatoes, thinly sliced ham, or melted cheese, the warm sandwich is filling enough to last an entire afternoon or evening, just as it did for Italian farmers and those post-war revelers. h


spreads white globs of lard in a thin layer over the dough. The lard is the most important ingredient: it is what gives the flatbread its distinctive flakey texture. Afterward, Guglielmi rolls the dough slowly into a long, thin snake. At this point, she wraps it around her hand to form a thick ring. This technique aids in giving the bread its layers. Next, she flattens the ring again with the rolling pin to create a tortilla-like disk. Finally, she cooks the doughy disk for 10 minutes on a stovetop. After sizzling on the stove, a golden and crispy cresce sfogliate is born. At this point, the bread is folded and other ingredients can be tucked inside. The traditional stuffing is meat, but at Il Ragno d’Oro, as the number of customers grew so did the choice of fillings. Now it can be savored with various types of ham, turkey, vegetables, cheese, or a combination of tomatoes and mozzarella or vegetables and cheese—Piergiovani’s favorite. Customers come from all over the Marche region to taste the flakey goodness of Il Ragno


to feed the cows and

bulls. Next comes weeding and watering the vegetable garden until pausa. During this midday break, she

cooks hearty pasta and chewy bread with ingredients grown on the farm. The evening calls for feeding the

chickens and perhaps more gardening. Finally, as the

sun begins to set, she eats dinner and draws her bed covers back. It’s a long but fulfilling day for Jennifer

Blain, a 70-year-old British woman visiting Italy. But

she is not simply vacationing. She is getting her hands

dirty working alongside Carlo Comandini on his organic livestock farm 15 minutes outside Urbino.

Instead of hitting tourist hotspots, travelers can

come to Azienda Agricola Cal Bianchino, Comandini’s farm, to experience an authentic Italy. Visitors

can stay at the farm from two weeks to six months

to learn about the country’s culture, history, and language, and to pick up the skills required to work an organic farm. Blain found Comandini’s farm through

the Italian branch of WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). The international organization matches volunteers and organic farmers:

Volunteers get to experience farm life and farmers get free labor.

The Italian practice of housing guests on a work-

ing farm is broadly termed agriturism. But there are

a few key differences among agriturismi. Many establishments that go by that name are simply B&Bs

with the sole purpose of relaxation—and they charge 38

a fee. They offer visitors the opportunity to lounge by

learned from his grandparents about farming, taking

great pride in his techniques and sharing his philoso-

phies about a healthier lifestyle. Temporary residents tend the vegetable garden, clean stables, butcher pigs,

and prepare the meat. “I like the exchange of cultural points of view,” Comandini says. “And when I see

that people are interested in what I’m doing here, it is a big pleasure to teach them.”

Living and working on the farm is life-changing,

say visitors. Francesco Tripoli of New York spent time with Comandini five years ago. “I care a lot less about visiting museums and churches, and much

more about seeing and feeling the living examples of

a country’s heritage,” he says. Others, like Blain, have taken their new skills home and created organic veg-

etable gardens of their own. Blain still remembers her first steps on the mountaintop farmland. “I thought I

had entered paradise,” she says. “I wish I had discovered it when I was younger.”

­—Lauryn Smith

a pool and take in the rolling landscape of rural Italy

along with the chance to nibble on homegrown and Urbino NOW ‘11-’12

Comandini teaches his many visitors what he

homemade foods. Others, like Comandini’s, involve

hands-on labor. For these, there is no expense other

than the cost of getting there. The visitor’s labor covers the price of room and board.

AZIENDA AGRICOLA CAL BIANCHINO 0772 4441 For more on agriturism opportunities, visit wwoof. org,, or



with chatter, the lunch-

time sun is hot, and the sound of cutlery and plates

echoes in the Piazza San Francesco, thanks to Gloria Dappozza and Claudio Amati’s restaurant, Il Girarrosto Specialita Locale. A two-minute walk west of the Piazza Della Repubblica, Il Girarrosto is in the heart of Urbino. The happily married couple has successfully sustained the 30-year-old, family-run eatery for two generations. Il Girarrosto attracts a wide range of locals, from young families and students to the older generation that works in small boutiques around town. Dappozza recommends Punta di’Vitello con Finocchio Selvatico for 16 euros. This is a typical Urbino dish, consisting of veal brisket rolled in fennel and garlic, and cooked to perfection for three hours. “Rosso Conero is the perfect wine to complement Punta di’Vitello,” Dappozza says. Other local specialties include the stuffed flatbread called cresce sfogliate for eight euros. Settle onto the patio, relax in the shade of the linden trees, watch the pedestrians pass along Via Raffaello, and savor Urbino’s cuisine. —Jalila Singerff


Piazza San Francesco, 3, Urbino 0722 4445 Open every day noon-2:30 p.m. and 7-11 p.m.

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Via Raffaelo, 52, Urbino 0722 329 590 Choose from six to eight flavors of gelato (out of a total of 25) each day.

Breathing becomes heavy. Just when I’m about to collapse against a wall along Urbino’s steep Via Raffaello, Gelateria e Pasticceria Cartolari comes into view. For 26 years, Cartolari has been rewarding determined hikers with its homemade gelato: two scoops for one euro—about half the price of other gelaterias in town. But the appeal goes beyond price; the taste keeps customers coming back for more. For me, it’s the way my favorite flavors, Caffe Bianco (white coffee) and Zuppa Inglese (a gelato version of English trifle), blend harmoniously on my palate and meld into a whole new experience. What is Cartolari’s secret? “Everything is made like tradition,” Leonardo Cartolari says. I watch him make Caffe Bianco, adding coffee beans to milk, sugar, and cream, and then setting the mix to boil. Simple ingredients, complex flavors. He pours the liquid into the gelato-making machine and in less than an hour, Caffe Bianco tempts me again from behind the glass counter. Cartolari’s pastries are as simple as his gelato. Ingredients include little more than flour, water, and sugar. To prepare cannoli, Cartolari wraps strips flattened white dough around cone-shaped metal rods, and into the oven they go. Without consulting a timer, he opens the oven after five or 10 minutes: “If they smell ready, they are ready.” After the cannoli cool, Cartolari slides them off the cones, injects them with chocolate or cream, and drizzles them with chocolate sauce. Then, like snowflakes, powdered sugar falls on top. As I watch him create the rest of his pastries, I can almost taste the Nutella-stuffed pancakes and berry-topped tarts. It is so worth the climb! —Rosa Castañeda




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snips of history A DAY WITH PIPPI BUSIGNANI,





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shuffles around an elderly gentleman in a vibrant red chair, meticulously sweeping clumps of white hair from the man’s shoulders. The fine strands float to the floor, joining the multi-colored remnants from previous customers. Busignani’s eyes scan the man’s back, searching for rogue hairs. “Finito,” he says confidently, removing the protective yellow cape from the client’s body. The customer, Romolo Alessandroni, stands and examines his new look in the mirror, then smiles and reaches into his pocket. He hands over six euros and playfully pats Busignani on the back before exiting the shop. It’s an average Thursday afternoon for Busignani, he says, as he carries a broom back toward his work station. “What would you like to know? I’ve been cutting hair for sixty-seven years.” Busignani, a 78-year-old Urbino native, is the last traditional barber in town, making him a community icon and the best source for a straight-razor shave and a good story. Busignani began working at the barbiere, located at 58 Via Mazzini, at age 11 under the guidance of his father, Ettore. “It was very common to have a E N ZO “ PI PPI ” BUSIG N A N I

Pippi Busignani has cut hair for 67 years at his Via Mazzini shop. Opposite, he reveals a stash of love letters from his wife, Matilde.

child in the shop, and the children would learn the trade because they watched their parents,” he says, as he prepares the next man in line for a shave. “I didn’t have to wait until I was eighteen. I watched and learned, and after basic schooling, I began working.” As he loads a plump, bristled brush with lathering soap, he says the barbiere is his second home. “In 1915, the shop was built and owned by a Jewish family,” he says. “My father bought it in 1927 for five thousand lire. It’s not a lot now, but at that time, it was a huge sum to pay.” Busignani’s father kept all the original furnishings, even the wall décor. The shop did not get a facelift until 1965, when Busignani took it over from his father. “My father had old-fashioned ideals and furniture,” he says. “I had the room expanded, put in chairs, and made everything more modern.” He momentarily abandons his half-shaven customer to show off the additions, swinging his arms to identify where the room used to stop

and showcasing—Vanna White-style—the retro red-and-turquoise styling chairs. The two styling chairs sit in front of mirrored work stations on the north side of the room. Fixed between the two spaces is a tall cabinet stocked with hair dryers, jars of pomade, and a hefty supply of after-shave. On the opposite wall, four armchairs await future visitors. The walls are covered in a patchwork of wood paneling, mint-green tiles, and pinstriped wa l lpaper, and fluorescent lights bounce off the room’s multiple mirrors. The few spots of vacant wall space display photos of Busignani dressed in various costumes for the annual Feast of the Dukes and a certificate of excellence from the 2004 Urbino-Pesaro Chamber of Commerce. The barber’s favorite photograph, however, is of a harsh winter snow in 2005. The photo shows Via Mazzini, the cars parked on the street, and the shop covered in a blanket of white with the

he’s the best source for a sh av e a nd a good story.


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ever-diligent Busignani standing out front in his pressed work coat. “I’ve only missed work three times,” he says. “And it was to visit my daughters.” Busignani is proud of the shop’s “new” look, but says he wishes he had left more evidence of his father. “The shop was better-looking when it was ancient. The oldest thing here is the clock on

served in Milan in Cavalleria, as a solider on horseback, for 18 months. While on duty, he met his future wife, Matilde, who was a native of that city. “I made love with my wife through letters for six years,” he says, tugging the drawer’s handle to uncover more letters. “She was in Milan, and I was in Urbino.” They married in 1960 and have lived in Ur-

the wall,” he says, pointing his chin to the antique mounted on the rear wall, while his hands finish the shave. “It has always been here—since 1915!” The dark-stained wood clock watches over the room, its gold pendulum swaying back and forth within its glass casing. The clock’s weathered face shows that it’s almost closing time. Only one customer remains in the shop and after inspecting the man’s now clean-shaven face, Busignani tells him goodbye. Busignani follows him out, waving from the entryway, and then glides to the back of the room. He motions toward an armoire on the west wall, and slides open a middle drawer to reveal something unexpected. The drawer contains not ancient gadgets or favorite combs, but instead, a pile of letters, all delicately addressed to “Enzo” in faded blue ink. Busignani says he joined the military in 1954 and

bino since, just steps away from the shop. Busignani says he saved every letter they exchanged. “When I am at the shop and I’m bored, I like to read them.” He continues his tour around the store, speaking of how barber shops and styling tools have evolved since he started work. As an example, he grabs a pair of outdated hair clippers from the cabinet and demonstrates how the odd metal object worked. He holds the shiny tool in one hand and uses the other to clench and unclench its lever rapidly, causing the blade to open and close. “I only use these on house calls,” he says of the simple, cordless device. “It’s not very often, but I do it for the elderly and the sick.” Then he shows off his contemporary tools: professional scissors and combs perfectly arranged along a table top. Behind the shining row is a col-


Busignani demonstrates an antique clipper from his collection. He still uses this cordless device when he goes on “house calls.”

Urbino NOW ‘11-’12

lection of lathering brushes, silver canisters, and bottles of Luxina hairspray. But time has affected more than the quality of the products, Busignani admits. Barbering is a dying art. “There isn’t a proper community for it anymore,” he says. “It used to be the women would go to the hairstylists, and the men would go to the barber shop. Now, everyone is going to the hairstylists.” The future of the trade in Urbino, especially, is uncertain. “I’m the last one,” he says. “I would stop now if I found a young man who wanted to take over the shop, but I can’t find one.” Busignani says his two daughters do not want the barbiere and of his four grandchildren, none are interested. When asked how long he will continue to work, Busignani says, “It’s for as long as I live.” After a pause, he fingers the array of modern instruments as he describes the process of a traditional barber shop visit. First, he describes a shave, noting the products and blades he uses. Next, he explains his haircutting techniques, when to use scissors and when to use hair clippers. “My favorite tool is the scissors,” he says. “It’s easier. The machine makes the hair all the same. With scis-

JUST A LITTLE OFF THE TOP, PER FAVORE Whether you’re transforming your image or simply getting a trim, here are some phrases to use at the hair salon: Where is a barber or hair salon? Dov’è un barbiere o parrucchiere? How much is a haircut? Quanto costa un taglio di capelli? Cut my bangs here. Mi taglia la frangia qui. I would like just a trim. Vorrei solo una spuntatina. Cut about this much off. Taglia tanto cosi. I would like to color my hair. Vorrei tingermi i capelli. It looks good! Sta bene!


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Via Mazzini, 58 Urbino, Italy No phone. Walk-ins welcome. Open Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m.-noon and 3:30-7:30 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.

STYLING IN URBINO These hairstylists, all located within the walls of Urbino, serve men, women, and children.


Via Salvemini 0722 328 239 Open Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 3-7 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday


Piazza Della Repubblica 0722 2866 Open Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 3-7:30 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday


Via Nazario Sauro, 12 0722 2976 Open Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 3-7:30 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday


Via Mazzini, 53 0722 350 305 Open Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 3-7:30 p.m. Closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday 47

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sors, you can do anything.” He pretends to snip and brush, animatedly moving his arms around an invisible client. Busignani’s eyes brighten when he talks about his trade. “If I were come to the world again, I would like to be a barber,” he says. “I love being with people. I love the winters and the summers in Urbino, and I love my barber shop.” Busignani considers a barber a “point of reference” for the community, and men of all ages visit the barbiere. “I’ve been going to Pippi for six years,” 23-year-old Francesco Berardinelli had said earlier in the day. “My father, my grandfather, and my brothers all see Pippi. He is very nice, very friendly. He is always available and has the most experience.” Alessandroni, the white-haired gentleman and one of Busignani’s oldest customers, agreed, saying he has been going to the barbiere for too many years to count. Busignani responds, “It’s my experience that makes me a good barber.” Then Busignani laughs and says, “I’ve cut German hair, I’ve cut Fascist hair–I’ve cut every type of hair. I’ve cut the hair of doctors, university professors, and even the hair of university president Carlo Bo.” The only hair he hasn’t cut is his own. h

SANTA CHIARA’S FACELIFT The rejuvenation of a 550-year-old monastery

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Restorer Franco Bigini uses a microsander to clean the centuries-old stone at the front doorway of the monastery.

periodically interrupted by tall columns, curves out and around to create the circular foyer. Sitting on the tiled floor, glass cases display pieces of 15th century ceramics found in the building. Above, the white walls and architectural accents give way to a breathtaking domed ceiling, where the palette suddenly blooms with color. A large fresco of angels and humans depicts the marriage of Heaven and Earth. The soft blues, greens, and browns of the figures’ clothing melt into the even softer whites, grays, and yellows of the sky. In a small, circular cutout right in the center hangs a cast-iron dove in flight. This is the foyer of the Monastero di Santa Chiara, located in the historic hillside city of Urbino. The monastery has been under restoration to reunite the building with its Renaissance origins. When the final touches are complete in the fall of 2011, it will look almost exactly as it did back then: The halls and rooms will be the same, the materials will be the same, and visitors will still feel the awe of the 550-year-old monastery. What they won’t see, however, are the six years of work put into preserving these elements. And that’s the secret of historical restoration. Commissioned by Duke Federico da Montefeltro in 1457 and designed by the duke’s favorite architect, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Santa A F L AW L E S S W H I T E WA L L ,

Chiara is Urbino’s second-most important building after the Palazzo Ducale. During its time as a working monastery, Santa Chiara became home to the Duke’s daughter Isabetta, who retired to prayer after her husband’s death in 1482. From 1864 to 1904, the building was used as a girls’ school, and from World War II until 1974, it served as a hospital, gaining a new wing to accommodate the wounded. In 1974, the doctors and nurses moved out to make way for professors and students who were part of Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche (ISIA), a prestigious design school that is part of the Italian University. The school has been housed in the historic building ever since. By the early 2000s, ISIA was a well-established school, graduating artists skilled in all mediums. But the building was suffering from time and ne-

glect. As the monastery’s walls began literally to crumble around the students, the school’s president, Giorgio Londei, decided that restoration work had to be done quickly in order to maintain a safe working environment for the school. The fact that the design school inhabited the historic building granted Londei’s project first-class status when it came to seeking funds. Full funding for the project came from the Ministero dell’ Universita e della Ricerca—the Ministry of the University

the monastery have been replaced, the unstable entrances and main walls throughout the building have been reinforced, and the large fresco that looms overhead just inside the circular foyer has been restored. The specialists involved in the Santa Chiara project have earned the right to put their hands on such important work. Unlike renovations, restorations like this one don’t deal in the same materials, use the same methods, or require the same work

By fall 2011, it will look almost as it did in the 1450s.

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Ceramics like these at left, found during the restoration, were made by nuns in the monastery’s early years for personal use, charity, or sale.

from project to project. As Bigini and Gostoli explain, there are a couple of large differences between renovating and restoring. In renovations, for example, the old is torn down to make way for the new. But in restorations, specialists take care to keep or uncover the original materials and layout. “I really love when I am working on a work of art manipulated over the years,” stonemason and fresco artist Bigini says. “Like this building, how they had to tear down the newer parts. I love the opportunity to erase all of the newer parts in order to get to the original work of art. Real restoration consists in making something look as it did in the beginning. What you add is not always as beautiful as the original.” Another difference between renovating and


and Research—which is comparable to the United States’ Department of Education. “Having the ISIA in the monastery was fundamental,” says Agnese Vastano, inspector of the Santa Chiara restoration project and an art history expert. “Being such an important school, it made other people focus their attention on this building, so funds arrived. If this very important school wasn’t here, no one would have cared about the building.” Head architect Gianluca Gostoli and hands-on specialists like local restorer Franco Bigini were brought in to start the work in 2005. Since then, the wing added during the building’s hospital days has been demolished, the entire rusted and leaking roof has been repaired, the floor tiles throughout


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restoring is that the changes made during renovation, such as fresh paint or new floors, are meant to be obvious to the viewer. In contrast, restoration work, though not completely hidden, shouldn’t jump out to visitors. “Only an expert will always be able to tell where the original building stops, and where the modern part begins,” Gostoli says. According to Gostoli, 95 percent of the original monastery was preserved and only minimal substitutions of modern materials were made. But where modern solutions were necessary, he says, “Only a very expert eye could see where we used unoriginal material. The process of restoration is very important because it is a way to communicate to those coming after us what those who came before us left behind.” Before each mini-project in the monastery is started, Gostoli must first understand the original architect’s vision of the structure, which he says is the most difficult part of his job. “You must try to enter the mind of the original architect,” he says, “in order to not change the building, but to make it look like it was and how it was meant to be.” For the work on Santa Chiara, the architect was able to use the original blueprints, which had been kept protected in Florence. Although the blueprints included only the first floor of the four-story building, Gostoli says the rooms on the upper

For restoration architects like Gostoli, it’s what doesn’t appear on the blueprints that can cause consternation. The mysterious Santa Chiara “holes” are a perfect example. Just a few steps inside from the main courtyard is a long room with a walkway on the left. To the right in that room are three or four brick-lined holes sunk into the floor. Two of these holes, side by side, resemble a modern-day utility sink. Not only were these holes not on the blueprints, but their intended use is unclear. Gostoli’s best guess is that the nuns of the monastery used the holes for laundry, or as basins to mix clay and water for pottery. “Even though we don’t know exactly what they were used for,” Gostoli says, “they are still a part of the building, so we clean them and restore them—again, not changing anything.” Once the holes are properly restored, glass will be installed over them to make them visible while protecting them from damage. When the restorers finish their work on Santa Chiara in September 2011, the building will be much more than just a pretty face. It will continue to serve as the home of ISIA and will offer visitors a self-guided tour that recounts the monastery’s rich history. What won’t be readily apparent to either students or visitors is the work of people like Vastano, Bigini, and Gostoli, who saved the build-

floors had been well-maintained, so only minor touchups were required.

ing and ensured several more centuries of history for the Monastero di Santa Chiara. h



Via S. Clare, 36 61029 Urbino, Italy Open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed Sunday.

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Four Hundred Years of Good Works BY J O R D A N H O L L O WAY BY J O R D A N H O L L O WAY

Confraternities are

into the ancient door and turns it seven times. All I hear is the shuffling of locks. When the door finally opens, we enter quickly because there is an alarm on it. Bravi shuts the door and disables the alarm. Then we come to a second door where we have another seven-lock experience. Overwhelming, yes, but it’s necessary. This type of security is needed to protect the treasures that are stored inside the Oratory of Death, home to the Compagnia della Morte or Confraternity of Death. Confraternities are religious brotherhoods that offer services to help better the lives of their communities; oratories are their headquarters. The organizations’ role in Italian society is like that of charitable fraternities and rotary clubs in the United States. LU IGI BR AV I I N S E R T S A K E Y

alive and well inUrbino Popular during the Renaissance, confraternities disappeared as the need for their services declined. For most, all that remains of their history is the artwork they collected over the centuries. Many of the oratories have been converted into small museums that are open for public view. But in Urbino, four confraternities and their oratories remain active today: The Oratory of San Giovanni, erected in 1416; the Oratory of San Giuseppe, built between 1545 and 1550; the Church of Corpus Domini, which dates from the early 16th century; and the Oratory of Death, constructed in 1595. Most visitors to Compagnia della Morte’s church on Via Porta Maja never get inside the second door. Instead, they can only view the confraternity’s paintings and ancient relics through a set of bars that separates them from the chapel.

“In the summer and spring we open the doors of the church and allow people to look at the church from the other side of the gate,” says Bravi, the organization’s director. Bravi has agreed to let me enter the second door and to describe the life and responsibilities of one of Urbino’s remaining confraternities. Bravi, who joined the confraternity in 2002, is also a professor at the University of Chieti in central Italy, where he has taught ancient Greek for six years. As we enter the oratory, he explains the role that the confraternity played when it first started. The original mission, he says, was to arrange for funerals and take care of widows, orphans, and the shipwrecked. In the 1600s, the confraternity took on another responsibility when a woman named Angelica de Benedetti bequeathed a large sum of money so the 55

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The Confraternity of Death has been aiding Urbino’s citizens since 1595. Director Luigi Bravi stands at the entrance to the oratory.

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“No matter what you do in the middle, life and death will always be connected.”

organization could grant dowries to women who might otherwise not be married. Originally aimed to help poor women avoid prostitution, the practice continues to this day. “Once a year we choose by random the girl who will receive the dowry,” Bravi says. The woman receives the dowry after she is wed, and the married couple does not have to pay back the money. By the 1970s, the confraternity’s role as caretakers of the dead came to an end. “In the twentieth century more and more people died in hospitals and not in their private homes,” says Bravi. As hospitals took on the role of caring for the dead, he says, the services of the confraternity became outdated. But the organization still supports grieving families. “We offer prayer to the families of the deceased as a way to give them spiritual care,” Bravi says. As we enter the small church inside the oratory, I immediately notice above the altar a painting by Urbino native Federico Barocci (1526 to 1612) entitled Crucifixion with Mourners and Mary Magdalene. Barocci was a member the Church of Corpus Domini. Above the crucifixion is another painting by Barocci, a portrait of a pelican. “It serves as a metaphor of Christ,” Bravi says. In the back of the church, to the left of the door, hangs a portrait of Angelica de Benedetti. It is the confraternity’s way of showing appreciation to the woman who gave so much. On the opposite side

DEATH TAKES A VOTE of the door there is a portrait of the man who organized the confraternity, Alessandro Codignola. Along the walls are bench-like seats, used for assemblies. Hanging over one of the seats is a painting of a skeleton that has both male and female halves. “This is to say that death belongs to both male and female,” Bravi says. The imagery of the painting is also used on the banner that the confraternity carries during religious celebrations. Confraternity members wave the banner high in the sky as they march throughout the city until they reach the cathedral next to the Ducal Palace. Bravi and I leave the Oratory of Death and step into Via Porta Maja. Bravi gestures toward a nearby alley. “Down there you can walk into the Oratory of Life,” he says. “No matter what you do in the middle, life and death will always be connected.” h

The Confraternity of Death has a voting method that has been in use since the 16th century. The confraternity uses an old wooden voting box to make decisions. The rectangular base of the box contains three drawers, two that open on the short ends and a third that opens in the middle of one of the long sides. The middle drawer contains small balls that are used for placing votes. On top of the rectangular base, supported on a wide pedestal, sits a hollow horizontal tube about the size of a large forearm. Toward one end of the tube is the word “si”—yes—and toward the other is the word “no.” Three small tunnels drop from the tube through the pedestal and into the base: one from the end that says “si” to the drawer on the right end of the base, another from the end that says “no” to the drawer on the left side of the base, and a third—for those who abstain—goes back to the middle drawer of the base. To vote, a member takes a ball from the middle drawer, puts his arm into the tube and drops the ball in the hole that corresponds to his vote. “If a person wants to keep his vote a secret he should slide his arm all the way in, and while he is removing his arm, drop the ball in the hole he wants to choose,” Bravi says. “That is so no one will know what his decision was.” After the voting is over, the drawers for “si” and “no” are opened and the votes are tallied. According to Bravi all decisions are final. —J.H. 57

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Guided visits of Urbino’s oratories are available on Saturdays and Sundays from April to October. For more information, visit Museo della Città at 1 Via Valerio, call 0722 309 270, or visit

In the Hoods

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it’s hard to tell one neighborhood from another in Urbino, whether inside the walls or in the newer outskirts. Neighbors chit-chat while trimming their hedges and watering their flowers. Parents share wine and stories as their children play in the garden. But during the annual Festa dell’Aquilone, or the Kite Festival, Urbino’s 10 contrade—or neighborhoods—lose all sense of unity, and divide for competition. The first week in September stirs historic rivalries and sparks a good-natured feud between those oncefriendly neighbors—elders, parents, and children alike. While the neighborhoods have been racing kites for more than 70 years, the Festa dell’Aquilone as an official festival began in 1952. Prizes go to the kites that are most beautiful, the strongest, the most whimsical, and that fly the farthest. The Peter Sanchini award—named for a well-known printmaker and engraver who came up with the idea for the kite festival and designed the first trophy— is given to the winner of the children’s kite race. Each neighborhood is represented by its own colors in the festival. The festival takes place in an open field on a hill east of the old city in the San Bernardino neighborhood, also known as the site of Duke Federico da Montefeltro’s mausoleum. At any given moment Julie Andrews could frolic through the grassland singing The Sound of Music. The Mazzaferro district boasts the 2010 trophy for the most beautiful kite. This contrada is the farthest away from the city center and the largest outside the city walls. Its population is growing the fastest because Urbinati want to live away from the city center and it has the most space to expand. The outlying neighborhoods of Piansavero and Pianatata are tied for the most wins in the kite races during the last 20 years. For visitors who happen to be in Urbino during the first week in September, what follows is a guide to the five contrade within the city walls.

named for the cathedral, is the oldest neighborhood in Urbino and the biggest inside the walls. Very few people live in Duomo year-round; it is mostly inhabited by students and city administrators. Because of this, most of its kite competitors are people that grew up in Duomo and moved to other contrade. These competitors are often teased as traitors. DUOMO,

team grew out of the Duomo team. In the second year of the Kite Festival, Duomo won and all the teams went to the traditional celebration dinner. When the time came to pay the bill, Duomo’s team (made of residents of both Duomo and San Polo) said that they shouldn’t have to contribute because they had won. Instead, they asked their teammates from San Polo to foot the bill. San Polo did not like the suggestion that they were not a part of the winning team and announced that the next year they would play as an independent neighborhood. The following year, San Polo wore black ribbons to symbolize the death of an alliance and adopted the color black for their contrada.


S A N P OL O ’ S

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is known among locals—at least those who are honest about it—as the most decorated and colorful neighborhood during the festival. The blue of the summer sky extends onto banners and flags draped from nearly every balcony, window, and wire in the contrada. The neighborhood is named for Porta Valbona, one of the five original arched entries through the city walls, and now the main entrance and exit for the city center. VA L B ON A

considered the strongest neighborhood in the Kite Festival, is never ashamed to make that reputation known. On the day before and the day of the festival, Monte racers drive cars, ride scooters, and run through other neighborhoods flying red flags and chanting “Siamo i più forti”—“We are the strongest.” Most Urbinate agree that Monte is the most intimidating adversary of all the contrade because of their cockiness. This is the only contrade that lies both inside and outside the walls: It includes the Public Gardens and Fortessa Albornoz, which lie inside the walls, as well as the Raphael Monument, which lies outside. MON T E ,

which branches off of Via Battisti, is named for lavare, the verb meaning to wash. For centuries, women washed clothes in the fountain on Battisti, and the fountain became the center of the neighborhood. Lavagine is also one of the only neighborhoods that still has its original archway into the city walls, called Porta Lavagine. L AVAGI N E ,


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Fano’s unconventional beach consists of stones— not sand. But that doesn’t stop the locals from



rich with Renaissance tradition and pulsing with university life. But after spending several summer weeks surrounded by cobblestone streets, graduating seniors, and thousands of years’ worth of Italian history, I was craving a getaway. As a California native, sometimes all I need is a day at the beach. The towns of Pesaro and Rimini are the expected tourist destinations for catching rays, complete with fancy hotels and hip nightclubs. But I liked what I had been hearing about Fano, the other beach town nearby, where in a single day you can get the best of several worlds. It offers not only a beautiful stretch of the Adriatic coast for sunbathing, but also fresh, affordable seafood and some unconventional glimpses of the region’s ancient culture, including one attraction that is literally underground. Just one hour, 21 stops, and six roundabouts after boarding the bus in Urbino, I had arrived at Fano, ready to begin my more-than-a-beach-day. It was an easy 15-minute walk from the bus stop to the ocean. I went into town through the towering Arch of Augustus and strolled straight along the road until I saw the red, yellow, and orange umbrellas and chairs. Eager to cool down, I ran to the water’s edge. Ouch. I hadn’t noticed that Fano’s beach consists of small rocks and pebbles—a nice change of pace from the usual sand, unless you sprint over it


Willing to pay a premium for a tempting menu and a dramatic view? Consider this 1970s British military ship turned floating restaurant. The seafood offerings change every night based on the fresh catch of the day. To get your money’s worth (around 35 euros per person), time your dinner to coincide with sunset over the ocean. Fano Banchina, 13 Darsena Centrale - Porto di Fano 0721 820 829


If you’re lucky enough to be in town in July, you can choose between two great festivals. For a week near the middle of the month, residents celebrate Fano dei Cesari, re-creating the time of Cesar, complete with togas, parades, and chariot races. Toward the end of July, Fano Jazz by the Sea brings together scores of musicians for one of the top five jazz festivals in Italy. The week-long event includes free late-night concerts and a performance stage over the water. Fano dei Cesari 0721 803 866

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Fano Jazz Network Viale Adriatico, 50 61032 Fano, Italy 0721 803 043


in bare feet. Note to future self: Water-proof sandals would be a great help on this rocky floor.


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After a quick, chilly dip, I made my way to the candy-colored chairs, popped in my ear buds, and relaxed. I opened my eyes about an hour later to see a woman looming over me, saying something in Italian that could only have meant, “Get out of that chair. If you want to sit, you have to pay.” If sneaking onto beach chairs isn’t your style, you can pay seven euros to legally kick back under an umbrella—or lie on the rocks for free. I was so exhausted by the sun at this point that I took another quick dip, then made my way to an alternative source of refreshment: the pink building down the street, Café Victory, a gelateria. I immediately found my favorite, Stracciatella, a flavor that is so much more than its components: a vanilla base and chocolate shavings. The “shavings” of chocolate protruded from my 1,50 euro cone like oddly shaped spines on a cactus. Some were as large as quarters and slowly melted into the gelato as I rushed to catch the drippings before they hit the ground. If chocolate isn’t your passion, Panna Cotta is like nothing you can find back home, a creamy caramel gelato that rewards those adventurous enough to mix it with other flavors. A few last spoonfuls, a few more minutes down

the road, and I found myself standing in front of an ordinary door to an unassuming building, where I was met by Professor Piergiogio Budassi. He is one of Fano’s “key holders.” Only Budassi and a few others have the authority to unlock certain mysterious or official doors in town, and he was here to guide me through one of Fano’s best-kept secrets. Resti Della Citta Romana, which translates as “remains of the Romans,” or as those in Fano call it, Fano Romana, is an intriguing underground city that is quietly being excavated. Most Italians you ask about Fano Romana are vague about its details, there is no website, and it has no regular visiting hours. If you’re lucky, you might have heard that during the summer months, a key holder often waits by the entrance after 9 at night for insiders who want a look. Fortunately, if a night tour doesn’t work for you, you can call the Fano tourist office and request that a key holder meet you at a more convenient time. Nota bene: Key holders speak only Italian, which is why I arranged for an interpreter to join us. We made our way through the door, down a set of stairs, and into a cool and dusty underground space that opened up into two dim hallways. In a few moments, we were walking on a metal platform raised slightly above the dirt floor. It led to an underground chamber the size of a small bedroom. “There is a lot of mystery to this structure,” Budassi said, staring ahead at stone columns as tall as baby giraffes and a single arch that once saw the sky above. The room was arranged in a half-circle. “This is the only structure like this in the Roman world. The form is like a fan; it starts with little

D AY T R IP S reasonable prices. “Cooking fish is a tradition in Fano, and I think they do it well,” Khouadri said. I went through the line, cafeteria-style, considering my options. Plastic trays of calamari, fried fish, and rice with tomato sauce lined the glass cases. Prices ranged from 3,50 to 4 euros, but I learned the secret of the real deal as I saw the locals pile plate after plate of food onto their trays. Eleven euros gets you one first-course dish, two second-course dishes, one side salad, and one sandwich, along with a bottle of water and a small bottle of wine. Had I known this before I chose my two dishes, I could have tripled my meal for only a few euros more. I settled into the dining area, its upper walls hung with paintings of fish, fisherman, and the ocean. The calamari was warm, crunchy, and the perfect amount of chewy. The rice marinated in tomato sauce with tuna was hearty and a great pairing for the calamari. Come 6:30, I realized that if I didn’t want to be stranded in Fano overnight, I had to head back for the last bus to Urbino. The walk was peaceful. Bicycles swooshed by in both directions. In the waiting bus, I settled down into a scratchy blue seat, closed my eyes, and reviewed my day. Fresh fish, gelato, a different sort of beach, and a secret city. I wished I could get that vacation combo back in California. h


Call Fano’s tourist office to ask that a “key holder” meet you for a guided tour: 0721 803 534. If you’re staying at a hotel in Fano, your concierge may also be able to arrange a visit.

Viale Adriatico, 48 61032 Fano, Italy 0721 803 165

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rooms that open up into bigger rooms, and there is nothing else like it.” This was once a living and breathing town filled with people, but it is now immersed in dirt. I wondered how the people of Fano could let such a city sink below the surface. “People threw earth and garbage and built on top of the surface,” Budassi explained. He estimated that Fano Romana went underground beginning around the 13th century. We made our way into the next room, the only other section of this subterranean world that had been excavated so far. Earth-covered stone rose at chair height above the ground in a horseshoe shape; holes were cut into the long seat every foot or so. Budassi explained that this room had been an ancient latrine, and held up a brightly colored illustration of what it might have looked like when first constructed. Seeing these two rooms, buried so far beneath the surfaces, I felt I was peering into a time capsule that had been pried open just for me. “The people of Fano always knew this existed but didn’t care,” Budassi said. “We are used to ancient things and didn’t pay much attention. Archeologists worked down here up until the twentieth century as a hobby.” Now, he added, they are working on opening the entire city, which they believe is as large as Fano above it. Back on the surface and in the present, I decided to finish the day at Pesce Azzurro, a restaurant favored by locals, young and old. (To get there from Fano Romana, head back toward the water and turn left along the beach road.) Manuel Khouadri, a university student in Urbino and a Fano native, recommended it for its fresh fish and


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Here was a table covered in watches of every color, shape, size, and technology. I went through more than 20 before choosing a pink sports model for myself. Remembering my Father’s Day assignment, I picked up a watch with a nice leather band. “Quanto costa?” I asked. “Cinque,” the vendor responded, adding a few other comments that I couldn’t follow. Alice explained that the watches were five euros each and, according to the salesman, they were waterproof. We tried negotiating to get two for the price of one, but he would not budge. I paid the man and decided that I had learned something new about shopping. I had thought you could bargain at any market. That’s when my eyes zeroed in on a pair of pink pearl earrings displayed on one of several adjacent tables of jewelry run by the same merchant. “Quanto costa?” Before he could answer, I spotted another pair of pearl earrings and asked the same question. He laughed, and hand-signaled seven euros for both. I quickly handed over the money, thanked him, and ventured off. I saw one of our companions at a shoe stall and made my way over to bins full of men’s and women’s sandals and women’s flats and heels. The proprietor, a Pesaro native, told us that he had been selling at

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wooden tables piled high. I tried on everything from fedoras to straw hats to Hello Kitty caps. The owner handed me and Alice his card; it showed a picture of a hat and his name, Walter Mattioli. He

told us he has been a merchant for 45 years, selling not only here on Sundays but also in another market on Thursdays at the Piazza San Decenzio, just blocks away from this location. I yelled “Grazie” over the heads of other eager customers and walked towards another stall.


in Urbino reactivated my dormant shopping addiction. So when somebody mentioned that Pesaro, the nearby beach city, had its own weekly market on Sundays, I cleared my schedule and decided on my mission. I would take the first Sunday morning bus to Pesaro, and not return to Urbino emptyhanded. At the very least, I needed a Father’s Day gift—but I was hoping for much bigger game. On Sunday I was at the bus stop by 8:15 a.m. I had recruited Alice, a student at Urbino University, to assist in navigating the city, bargaining, and translating. I also had enlisted several other friends—though I knew none was as serious as I am about shopping. Roughly an hour after we left Urbino, I saw the passing countryside give way to palm trees, masses of buildings, colorful gardens, and a sign that said “PESARO.” We jumped off the bus, walked toward the center of town, and joined a great crowd of people as they waded into a sea of tables, tents, umbrellas, and vans—the market! It was nothing like a department store with organized sections for each kind of merchandise. My shopper’s heart raced as I took in the sight of clothes, handbags, household furnishings, jewelry, and shoes scattered around me in all directions. And hats! I stopped at the very first stall I came to, where a merchant stood behind four long T H E S AT U R DAY OU T D O OR M A R K E T

D AY T R IP S markets since 1973, adding, “I am number one in my work.” I found some nice Italian leather sandals, but they were too big. The challenge here was figuring out the sizes. I made a mental note for future marketing: Don’t trust the labels and be sure to try things on whenever possible before buying. Beginning to feel the effects of the hot sun, I glanced at my new watch: It was close to one in the afternoon already! No matter. My shopping radar was now locked in on a nearby clothing stall, and soon I was rummaging through the racks. I was delighted to find familiar sizing labels from

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Third Sunday of every month in various piazzas and streets in and around the center of the city. Some parts of the market open as early as 8 a.m. and close as late as 7 p.m.

“small” to “x-large,” and I was amazed to learn that I could actually try on the clothes—though I had no idea where the dressing room would be out here on the streets of Pesaro. The salesman motioned for me to follow him. He opened the back of his van, helped me in, and closed the door. That’s right; many of the vans sprinkled throughout the market were doubling as dressing rooms. As a small ray of sunlight shone into the dark interior, I looked for something to grab onto while I undressed to try on the clothes. Suddenly I heard someone open the front door, and I had a small heart attack. “Oh my God,” I thought. “What if they drive off while I’m in here changing clothes?” Luckily, that didn’t happen. Unluckily, none of the items fit. Still, it was a unique shopping experience. My friends decided it was time to take a break for lunch, so I reluctantly left the market and started walking with them toward the center of town. I lagged behind to take a few pictures and then spotted a book sale. I headed over. The stall that caught my eye was in the middle of an alley, and there were more stalls farther along in the direction of the beach! I was amazed—I had thought that the market was confined to the location we had been exploring earlier, and I had been under the impression that it would close for the day around one o’clock. As curiosity won out over exhaustion, I discovered far more than books. Before me lay a treasure trove of American and Italian retro—from original Wolverine and Spiderman books to oldfashioned vinyl records and VHS tapes to toys of all sorts. Almost everything was under 15 euros. I snatched up two electronic hand-held games, one with a Tom and Jerry theme and the other based on Disney’s “The Rescuers Down Under.” Ten eu-

ros later, I realized I had been deserted by my less consumer-driven companions. “Okay,” I told myself, “no more.”


That’s when I saw the vintage Coca-Cola refrigerator beckoning to me from yet another stall. Could I get that back on the plane? I moved closer and found ceramics, antique china, typewriters, and religious figurines. There was even a stuffed E.T. bundled with the movie. Hunger pangs reminded me that it was well past lunchtime, but I couldn’t resist the beautiful bags hanging from the top of a nearby tent, all different materials, shapes, sizes, and colors. I picked up a wallet that had a magazine image on it and then, before I knew it, I had two bags and three wallets in my arms. I handed the proprietress a 50-euro note and was devastated to hear her say, “I don’t have change.” She rushed out of her stall, ran to four others, and, to my relief, returned with a stash of smaller bills. I thanked her and said, “Ciao.” Reunited with my deserters, I sat down at last for a late afternoon meal. When we emerged from the restaurant at around four, I was surprised to find the market still going strong. Down the street were merchants I wanted to revisit. Up the street were lots more stalls to be discovered. So much to do, so little time left. I resigned myself to shop another day, and reviewed the tips I had picked here in Pesaro that would serve me well in all future expeditions to Italian street markets: Come armed with small bills and loose change, don’t expect that you can bargain for all items, shop with fellow shopaholics (or prepare to be abandoned by nonconnoisseurs), try on everything regardless of what the labels say, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a dressing room with wheels. h

If you happen to be in Pesaro in August, this striking structure in the center of the town is the place to see operas as originally composed by Pesaro’s favorite musical son, Gioacchino Rossini. Buy your tickets ahead of time.


Teatro Rossini Piazza Giovanni Lazzarini, 1 Pesaro, Italy Rossini Opera Festival 0721 33344


A friendly restaurant between the center of town and the beach, Nerocaffè is a convenient, affordable place for a break from the bustle of the Sunday market. Nerocaffè Strada L. Cassiani, 12 61100 Pesaro, Italy 0721 21204


After shopping in the market, head east to Pesaro’s beachfront. When you see the “Palla,” a spherical, metallic sculpture that appears to be floating on water surrounded by a stretch of green lawn and a series of benches, you’ll know you have arrived. Just beyond the sculpture is a boardwalk, rows and rows of colorful umbrellas, and the Adriatic Sea. You can rent an umbrella for 15 euros for the day. If you’re feeling adventurous, greet those playing volleyball, beach ball, or soccer with “Posso?” If the reply is “Ecco,” then join in the fun!. 69

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This art of ceramics decoration is called maiolica, possibly named for Majorca, an island that was on a main shipping route. During the Renaissance, maiolica made Urbania, which was then known as Casteldurante, the most renowned European center for ceramics. In recent years, the craft has enjoyed a local resurgence after a modern-day priest decided to promote it. He helped start botteghe, or workshops, around the city, where people can learn about and practice the art. Although parts of Urbania’s Palazzo Ducale and Civic Museum offer ceramics exhibits, people like Orazio Bindelli, a ceramics teacher and artist, believe that Urbania needs a large, dedicated museum to match the city’s famous past, to attract tourists, and to educate those interested in the art’s origins. Bindelli is a member of Amici della Ceramica, Friends of Ceramics, a group that is pushing the mayor to increase its support of ceramics. The city has been restoring the Barco Ducale, the Duke of Urbino’s former hunting lodge, to create a new community center that can now accommodate kilns for various ceramics courses, including one taught by Bindelli this past summer. He included hands-on lessons in ceramics decoration as well as discussions of the 16th century history of Casteldurante and its celebrated art form. “Parents


the Duke of Urbino regularly trekked across the Apennine Mountains and through the lush rolling hills of the Metauro Valley. After three hours sitting atop his horse in the blazing sun, he reached his tranquil vacation spot of Urbania. Today, a comfortable 30-minute bus ride delivers visitors to Urbino’s historic sister town. For an authentic Marche experience off the well-worn tourist tracks, consider building your day trip around two of Urbania’s unique offerings. Start with window-shopping and workshops that will immerse you in the ancient art of ceramics. Then meet some of Urbania’s long-deceased residents who continue to tell their stories of the city’s past at the darkly fascinating Church of the Dead. As you stroll through town, you’ll quickly notice that nearly every shop window showcases Urbania’s claim to fame: white plates with colorful turquoise swirls, bright yellow backgrounds, and vivid religious or mythological figures. This bright and cheery style of ceramic decoration is all thanks to surveyor, military engineer, poet, and master ceramicist Cipriano Pissolpasso. In 1550, in response to a priest’s request to explain how he ornamented his ceramics, Pissolpasso wrote Li tre libri dell’arte del vasaio, a three-volume treatise detailing his techniques. I N T H E 1 5 T H C E N T U RY,


Once the residence of the Montefeltro and Della Revere families, the Ducal Palace now houses ceramics collections, a library, an underground wine cellar, the Civic Museum, and the Agricultural History Museum. One exhibit presents ceramics from the 16th century that were recently found in an archaeological excavation; 19th and 20th century ceramics from every region in Italy are displayed in one of the Palazzo’s towers. Palazzo Ducale Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 23 Urbania, Italy 0722 313 151


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The Barco was originally founded in 1465 by Duke Federico da Montefeltro and was used as a hunting lodge. In the surrounding grounds the dukes bred wild boars, hares, and other game animals. Located about a kilometer from Urbania in the direction of Sant’Angelo in Vado, the building was converted into a monastery by a minor order of Franciscan monks in 1771, 140 years after the fall of the dukes’ reign. More recently it has been undergoing renovations to house a community center and ceramics workshops.

in Urbania want their children to learn their town’s historic and artistic past,” says Bindelli. Luckily, visitors to Urbania can join in, too. A very different take on local history and culture is on view at Urbania’s Church of the Dead. If the plaque on the front of a doorway in the center of town did not read “Chiesa dei Morti,” you wouldn’t know there was a church here with 18 mummified corpses behind its altar. The church began as a privately owned building that belonged to the Cola family in 1380, when the city was called Castel delle Ripe. (Yes, Urbania has had three different names.) Most likely buried in the 17th century, the corpses were dug up in response to Napoleon’s 1804 law demanding that bodies without caskets be unearthed and given proper burials to ensure the safety of the living. After the Colas decided to migrate to Rome, the family donated the church to the Brotherhood of Good Death, an association dedicated to collecting church donations to arrange burials for the less fortunate, recording deaths, and assisting the terminally ill. Inside, hanging overhead, a chandelier constructed of real human bones illuminates the mummified bodies in individual glass cases and the piles of skulls that lie on the shelf above them. During a recent visit, tour guide Giovanni Maestini’s described what is known about each body. He pulled a small fragile object wrapped in cellophane out of a cabinet and delicately held it up to the light. Inside was the paper-thin and nearly transparent heart of a mummy who was buried alive. If touched, the gray skeletons, complete with leathery skin and little hair, would turn to dust, Maestini explained. Their veins and skin discoloration are


CERAMICS DEMONSTRATION Amici della Ceramic (Friends of Ceramics) 0722 317 644 (Orazio Bindelli)


Via Filippo Urgolini 61049 Urbania, Italy 3498 195 469 (Giovanni Maestrini guardian and guide)


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0722 313 140 Via Filippo Urgolini 61049 Urbania, Italy 3498 195 469 (Giovanni Maestrini guardian and guide)


apparent, but the way they died is not. In 1833 Prior Vincenzo Piccini, who was part of the church’s clergy as well as a pharmacist, found the mummified corpses underneath the building and thought they should be put on display. He believed the mummies were the remains of important persons whose bodies had been purposely preserved; others viewed the phenomenon as a supernatural event. Little did the prior know that the corpses were poverty-stricken people who couldn’t afford standard burials. Nor did he know how these bodies were preserved. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the “mummy museum” attracted wider interest. As tourism increased, the church was approached by the likes of the University of Pisa and the National Geographic Society. After analyzing the corpses, researchers came to the conclusion that the bodies were mummified naturally by a particular mold that extracted the nutrients from the body, leaving it leathery and discolored. More than a century earlier, Prior Piccini conducted his own investigations in the hope of preserving his wife, son, and himself in death and becoming immortal like the naturally mummified corpses. He tested various concoctions on deceased animals, but rather than preserving the skin, the substances caused it to deteriorate. Happily, Urbania has done better than Prior Piccini when it comes to immortality. Throughout three name changes and nearly ten centuries, the city persists, keeping its past alive in the modern world, filling modern-day heads and hands with rich local history and artistic tradition. Urbania is still a rewarding getaway destination, for dukes and day-trippers alike. h


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OU T DOORS I feel as if I am the smallest grain of salt, swept off a table by the two most beautiful human beings I have ever encountered. I stand in admiration, hoping they will notice me. Then I come to my senses: These are two mountains. They are not humans, but they are certainly full of life. Mount Pietralata and Mount Paganuccio are the names of these two peaks that live and breathe in the Gola del Furlo, a nature park located in the I H AV E N E V E R F E LT S O S M A L L .


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ancient Acqualagna region, only 25 to 30 minutes southeast of Urbino. I’m here to learn everything I can about this nature park: What makes it unique? What can a visitor do here? I had been walking through dense bushes and soaring trees along the park’s Candigliano River when the two cliffs seemed to come out of nowhere. But once I sighted them, I found it difficult to release my gaze. The cliffs are so tall that they seem to lightly touch the sun. Between them run the blue-green waters of the river. Together the cliffs and the river form the centerpiece of the park, the gorge itself. Later, park expert Leonardo Gubellini explained, “The presence of the river is important in the formation of the cliffs because the river dug out the cliffs, and it adds to the beauty of the whole place.” After our talk, I drove to the top of one of the cliffs, and near its edge I picked a bright yellow, spiky asphodel and inhaled its aroma. The view was breathtaking. But the views are not the only thing that makes this place a paradise. The Gola del Furlo is rich with history dating back to 295 BC when the Romans conquered the Furlo region. A variety of Roman structures remain in the park, such as the Vespasiano Tunnel. This tunnel, built to connect Rome to central Italy, is still part of the road that

A FURLO GORGE CALENDAR JUNE DONKEYS IN THE RESERVE This event, dedicated to a beloved and recently departed local donkey named Doctor Pumba, celebrates donkeys and mules and their roles in agriculture and history. Activities include storytelling, displays of “donkey aptitude,” workshops on using animals in therapy, and more. For information, visit and

SEPTEMBER SPLASH ART During this event, artists create installations of sculpture, painting, photography, mosaics, and more along a mile-long path from the Furlo dam to the village of St. Anna. Visitors are given the opportunity to view the art and meet the artists. The art is not for sale. For information, visit

NOVEMBER NATIONAL TRUFFLE FAIR Truffles are grown all year round, but according to the experts, the final three months of the year is the most important period because that’s when the highly prized white truffle is harvested—a tasty treat for park visitors. For information, visit comune.


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Via Furlo, 60 Passodel Furlo di Acqualagna, Italy 0721 700 096

runs alongside the gorge. Other Roman structures can be seen along the Flaminia road, such as support walls made with rocks from the cliffs of the Furlo to protect against flooding. More recently, the park was a favorite of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who visited frequently in the 1930s. The forest militia carved Il Duce’s profile into Mount Pietralata in 1936, and because the sculpture depicted Mussolini at rest, it became controversial. “Mussolini never sleeps, but holds vigil over the destiny of Italy,” said the state natural reserve brochure. Today, travelers can see only remnants of the sculpture—it was destroyed during World War II—but they can stay where Il Duce stayed, at Hotel AnticoFurlo, a 19th century structure remodeled and reopened in 2005. The exposed limestone cliffs and the waters of the gorge have created a unique habitat that encourages specific plants and animals to thrive here. “There is a certain type of stone that absorbs water that makes up the perfect geological environment for these plants to live in,” Gubellini told me. “Scientists come here from foreign nations, such as the Netherlands, because they don’t have this kind of environment there.” Microorganisms also dwell on the cliffs. “There are white spots and gray spots on the cliffs. Microorganisms live in the gray parts that you can’t find in other places,” Gubellini says. “The white and gray spots make the cliffs distinctive and give a beautiful image.” Endangered and threatened species make their homes in the park as well. During one visit, I was ecstatic to see a creature I have never seen. Looking through the lens of my camera, I saw a large shadow move across one of the cliffs. I slowly put my camera down and gazed into the harsh sunlight. I witnessed a golden eagle soar across the sky,


At top, a banner celebrates the park’s cliffs and wildlife. Above, vegetation flourishes beneath the limestone cliffs.

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with the cliffs as a backdrop. A couple of these eagles live in this park. They are a localized species and need a lot of territory. “The golden eagle adds a lot to the popularity of the place,” Gubellini says. All this history, wildlife, and more can be explored through the park’s hiking trails and audio tours. Tour themes include history, architecture, anthropology, culture, geology, paleontology, and horticulture. “There are guides with you on the tour to explain the stories behind the scenery,” Gubellini says. A good warm up for a tour is the park museum, located in the information center. Perusing the rocks, fossils, minerals, and maps there, I was fascinated by a fossil shaped like a snail, but much larger. It was an ammonite, a sea creature tens of millions of years old and found throughout the park. Locals use the park for a variety of reasons. Rowena Coles, who is a researcher and lecturer in Urbino, has lived in the Furlo region for 11 years. “I take walks in the park every morning,” she says. “The locals go into the park to collect wild asparagus, mushrooms, and other edible fruits and greens.” Coles is also vice president of the Pro Loco Association, which promotes the region, and helps organize events and festivals year-round in the park. The Truffle Fair, for example, takes place every November. The fair is not in the park itself, but in the surrounding Acqualagna region. “The Furlo has oaks that are really old and the truffles grow under them. This activity is very old in this place,” Gubellini says. In September, artists invade the park in an event called “Splash Art.” Says Coles: “Local artists come and spend the day being inspired by the environment and the river.” “The more you have to offer, the better the experience,” Coles says of the park. Gola del Furlo has a lot to offer, a lot to experience. h


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I am the only person here, free to explore and take pictures. I move closer to the small but dramatic cascade, close my eyes, and listen to the soothing rumble of falling water and the rustle of tree leaves. The light breeze and shade of the woods are a relief after pedaling under the hot sun. I could stay here all day, but I’ve promised to return my bike by evening, and I still hope to make it to several towns. I take one final moment to soak in the beauty. Then, reluctantly, I say goodbye to La Cascata del Sasso. La Cascata is the first stop on today’s bike trip, a ride that started and will end in Urbania, a small town about 10 miles southwest of Urbino. Equipped with only my water bottle, camera, cell phone, and a bike-route map I got from Urbino’s tourist office, I’ve decided to try out cyclotourism—sightseeing by bike. So far, the hardest part of cyclotourism has been finding a place to rent a bike. After some serious online searching, I finally found Happy Bike in Urbania, one of the only stores in Le Marche that offers bike rentals. Earlier today, I nervously left my driver’s license as collateral with shop owner Dario Londei and pedaled away, questioning whether I’d made a smart decision. Twenty minutes later, I still wasn’t sure. I had been looking for La Cascata along an asphalt road next to the Metaurus River and I wasn’t feeling like I was close to any natural wonders. Just as I was about to give up, I noticed a sign for the falls to my left. But instead of a waterfall, all I saw was the concrete slab of a parking lot and some industrial buildings. Confused, I turned into the parking lot and kept following the signs, which soon directed




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Taking a break between Urbania and Sant’Angelo in Vado: It’s smart to pace yourself on this route.

me down a tiny, barely noticeable trail. That’s when I saw the falls, and decided this biking thing was all right after all. Back on the main road, I follow the signs for Sant’Angelo in Vado. It’s not far from the waterfall, so I arrive quickly. At the outskirts of town, I stop at a shop called FrescoFrutta, where I buy the freshest-tasting peach I’ve ever eaten and a muchneeded bottle of apricot tea for less than a euro. Rejuvenated, I pedal on to the town center. Sant’Angelo is a sleepy town that doesn’t look like much at first, but it is literally built on history. Beneath the present-day town is the ancient Tiphernum Mataurense, a Roman commune that was destroyed by a Gothic invasion in the 6th century, making Sant’Angelo an archeological jackpot. The town’s cathedral, tower, and palace date from the 14th century. What’s more, Sant’Angelo is the birthplace of brothers Taddeo and Federico Zuccari, two famous 16th-century painters. This is just a tiny country town, not a famous city like Florence or Rome, but its rich history amazes me. With no real plan, I meander through

Locals gather at Ristorante Toni & Rosy, a little cafe in the center of the town of Piandemeleto, during pausa.

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color green. Trees and grassy fields flourish here, especially in the town’s main square. A nature lover from birth, I feel at home. I admire the Castello dei Conti Oliva, a Renaissance castle dating from the 14th century, and grab a snack at a bar which, during the mid-afternoon pausa, looks to be the only sign of life in the town. Piandemeleto is the last town I plan to explore fully on my trip, so from here on out, I’m just enjoying the ride. I pass through the Marche towns of Lunano, Mercatale, and Casinina, where the road turns into a fast highway that feels dangerous for cyclists. At this point, I remember Roberto Guidarelli, an avid cyclist and professional triathlete from Urbania who had met with me to talk about biking in the area. “I prefer riding here in Italy more than in the United States. It’s beautiful here, and I love the landscapes,” Guidarelli had said. “And there’s not so much traffic in this area, so I feel safe. In the States, I have the impression that people aren’t used to seeing bikers on big streets, but here they are.” I decided to trust the expert on this one. The road starts to climb. After about five miles


Sant’Angelo’s streets. As I pedal down a side road, I spot an artist’s studio and decide to peek in. His space is smaller than my dorm room, yet packed with sensual, colorful paintings. I speak with the artist in my broken Italian for about 10 minutes, learning that his name is Angelo Marini and that he paints both original artwork and copies of old Renaissance masterpieces. Judging by the way he enthusiastically shows me his work, I’d guess this man’s art is not widely known outside his small city. I say goodbye to Marini and ride further into Sant’Angelo. I stop to photograph the outside of a bed and breakfast called Hotel Trattoria Taddeo e Federico, and the hotel owner invites me to look around inside. The hotel, named for those famous 16th century painter-brothers, is quaint and charming, and the owner tells me most of his guests are Italian, not American. Taddeo e Federico offers a truly authentic Italian experience, making it a great place to stay if a traveler decided to break this bike trip into a couple of days. The next stop on my itinerary is a town called Piandemeleto, where the first thing I notice is the

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Artist Angelo Marini works and lives in Sant’Angelo in Vado, an ancient town built on a Roman site.

of uphill riding, I pass through Urbino, where I’ve been staying. From Urbino to Urbania, the road is short and straightforward. By the time I return to Happy Bike, it is evening and I’m exhausted, but the trip was worth every effort. I return my bike to Londei’s brother Fabio, who has taken Dario’s place at the store. We have a quick conversation, and I find out the brothers founded Happy Bike 10 years ago as a way to share with tourists and locals their passion for biking. When I show Fabbio a map of my route, he looks at me in surprise. “I created that course!” I learn that at about the same time Happy Bike was founded, Fabio, Dario, and another man named Renato Radici wrote the itinerary I picked up at Urbino’s tourist office. Fabio says he and his

brother work hard to promote cyclotourism in the area, but it’s still not a well-known travel activity. Why biking? Fabio does it for adventure; his brother’s daring spirit inspired him. “Dario did motocross when we were younger, and it looked like fun,” Fabio says. “So twenty-five years ago I bought a mountain bike, and I loved it.” But for me and other like-minded travelers, it’s about seeing the country in a different way. Instead of catching glimpses of the scenery through a car, train, or bus window, I can stop and marvel at whatever seems interesting. Instead of trekking on foot and only having time to explore one area in a day, I can make my way easily from town to town. And, besides, the chance to add endorphins to my tour of this beautiful region makes it all the more incredible. h


© At Urbino’s tourist office, ask for bike tour information. There are several itineraries and maps to choose from; the itinerary I used is called “Urbino and Dukes’ Courts.”


© Once you’ve chosen a route, head to Happy Bike in Urbania. From Urbino’s Borgo Mercatale, it’s a 20-minute bus ride. The store is at 28 Via Leopardi, a five-minute walk from the bus stop.

© Happy Bike is open only in the afternoon. Call Dario Londei (who speaks better English than his brother Fabio) on his cell at 3298 066 622 if you need to pick up your bike in the morning.

© Prices range from 12 euros for an afternoon to 50 euros for an entire week.


Via Leopardi, 28 61049 Urbania, Italy 0722 319 010

HOTEL TRATTORIA TADDEO E FEDERICO Via Mancini, 4 61048 Sant’Angelo in Vado, Italy 0722 819 322

ANGELO MARINI, ARTIST Via Canale, 10 61048 Sant’Angelo in Vado, Italy 0722 88318

© Happy Bike doesn’t rent helmets, and they are optional in Italy. But your mother taught you to wear one since you were on training wheels, so buy, borrow, or bring one from home to ensure you stay safe on busy roads.


© The itinerary I followed totals 74.7 kilometers (almost 49 miles). A person of average fitness riding at a leisurely pace can finish the ride in three and a half hours or so. But don’t push it: Stop for a relaxing lunch halfway through; a true Italian would do so.

© The second half of the itinerary is the most difficult. You’ll start going uphill from Sant’Angelo in Vado, head toward the coast near Pesaro, and then turn around and head straight up to Urbino. If you wear yourself out early, this part of the trip could turn painful. Life is slow in Italy; take your time.

© Don’t get dehydrated. Be sure to take water with you or stop for it along the way. Many public fountains in Italy spout clean, drinkable water. But before you fill that empty bottle, check for signs that say “non potabile”—“not potable.” If you have doubts about drinkability, just ask a local, “Si può bere?” It means, “Can you drink this?” 83


© When you leave Happy Bike on your rental, Fabio Urbino NOW ‘11-’12

or Dario will give you a cell phone number to contact them in case you run into trouble. Punch it into your phone along with Italy’s emergency number, 118. Remember the Italian word for help: “Aiuto!” And carry an ID with you.


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this morning; that’s 96 degrees Fahrenheit. So stepping into my Italian friend Luca Ambrogiani’s un-air-conditioned Fiat is proving to be quite the chore. But I smile and slip into the front seat, eager to roll down my window in hopes of a breeze. The heat doesn’t matter: I’m going to paradise today. Our destination is Camping Gabicce Monte, a campsite roosted atop a mountain overlooking the beckoning Adriatic Sea in Monte San Bartolo’s Natural Park, just an hour away. The Fiat’s diesel engine roars and pushes us out of the city and into the golden eastern hills. As the morning light wraps itself around us, excitement about our outdoor excursion sets in. This is a familiar feeling to those who camp and hike. The reason I’m here, and the reason others would do—should do—the same is this: There is genuine achievement in roughing it and shaking off civilization’s blues with nature’s passion. The only way to assuage the anxiety of transit is to actually set foot onto ground that’s meant to be slept on. The Fiat’s speaker blasts symphonic metal, the sound sharply contrasting with the serene landscape we speed through. We make our way through the countryside and onto the coast. As we approach the Adriatic, the water begins to look less like a line of fog and more like the sea. My jaw drops: Thousands of sunflowers blaze across the land; with the sunlight kissing each one, the land literally shines. Then we come upon the Parco Naturale del Monte San Bartolo. According to the online brochure, “The S. Bartolo Park is characterized by the stretch of high, intense sea-cliffs which go from Gabicce to Pesaro, a rarity in all of the Adriatic coast.” It is a protected area of majestic beauty un-



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affected by the towns that frame it: Cattolica and Gabicce Mare to the north; Pesaro to the south. We drive through the park’s northern entrance, near Gabicce Mare, and stop at Bar and Ristorante Blu Sorrento, a gorgeous establishment that sits directly on top of the mountain called Gabicce Monte. Houses scatter across the hills. The Gabicce Monte campground is a two-minute walk away. At the campground, a trail begins to the left of the entrance and leads directly to the sea. Just a 15-minute jaunt down the mountain, this trail offers the chance to prove to the thighs that walking isn’t a waste of time. The hike requires a little bit of bending low under branches and stepping lightly in the grass but it is fit for almost everyone. Remember to bring bug spray: I emerged from the brush

decorated from head to toe in mosquito bites. It was worth it. Lightly swathed by the Adriatic, the cliffs plunge sharply into the crust of the earth at the water’s edge. I found myself wishing everyone I cared about could be standing on the coast with me. Luckily for the traveler, this seemingly untouched nature park, with pristine water and lush foliage, is not off limits to the public. But because the campground is only open in the summer months, the area gets only “four hundred to five hundred people throughout the season, depending mainly on the weather,” says Matteo Ciccolini, park committee counselor. “Guests always enjoy their stay and the panorama that the campground offers.” Ciccolini told me his favorite part of working for the campground: “It has to be the natural

balcony which overlooks the sea. There’s an amazing view from up there.” You can get that view if you stay in La Nina, one of Gabicce Monte campground’s two mobile homes. The mobile homes, which sleep four to six, go for 80 to 105 euros, depending on the season. Tents equipped with mattresses, tables, and chairs are also available for 35 to 43 euros. The tents can accommodate a maximum of six people. Whether the visitors are a couple itching for a getaway or a group of friends escaping to the refuge of each other’s company, Gabicce Monte campground is not only accommodating but also affordable and downright lovely. As Luca and I drive away, we stumble upon another campground called Camping Paradiso. Two

brothers own the campground: Carlo and Claudio Gabuca. In only five minutes with them, I observe sheer joy on their tanned faces that probably comes from working with family for families and friends. Claudio explains his favorite part of the job: “To be in open air. Yes, the open air…” His eyes get misty and he shakes his head as if embarrassed to admit something personal after just meeting me. Camping Paradiso has a good feel; I recommend it as well. Of the most notable travel stories, the best involve an excursion over measureless distances and a view of luxury as a mere superficiality. For those who want to put life under their boot-soles, leave gravel dust in their wake, and sleep as nature’s orchestra sounds around them, camping and hiking in this area of Gabicce Monte is the answer. h

PARCO NATURALE DEL MONTE SAN BARTOLO Gabicce Monte Visitor Center Via Roma at Via Montegrappa 61001 Gabicce Mare, Italy 0541 830 080 Open from June to September

CAMPING GABICCE MONTE Via Panoramica 61001 Gabicce Mare, Italy 0541 950 713

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Strade delle Rive del Faro, 2 61121 Pesaro, Italy 0721 208 579



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ROSA CASTAÑEDA is a senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She studies modern literature and works as a Spanish tutor for the Latin America and Latino Studies department. While in Le Marche, she learned about the region’s famous verdicchio wine, and says that she hopes to learn more about the varieties of wine around the world. Rosa says, “I enjoyed very much the culture of Italy and the way that Italians take pride in what they are known for.”

SUNNY THAO is a senior at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St. Paul where she has a double major in professional journalism and marketing. In Italy, she realized the magic that is coconut gelato, and, after daily doses of Italian espresso, will likely never want American coffee again.

SYDNI DUNN is a junior at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, majoring in print journalism and international studies. Sydni is the news editor of the school newspaper, The Daily Reveille; a writer for the university’s magazine, Legacy; and a contributing writer for The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge. Sydni says, “The Urbino Project was an opportunity to work alongside professional journalists, learn about magazine production, and experience the culture of Urbino first-hand.” Outside the classroom, Sydni enjoyed eating gelato in the piazza, mingling with the locals, and traveling during the weekends.

JAMIE HUNTER is senior mass communications major at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where her focus is print journalism. She writes for her school newspaper, The News Argus. Her trip to Urbino was the first time she traveled outside of the U.S.

JORDAN HOLLOWAY is senior at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is a mass communications major with a concentration in print journalism, and is the sports editor of The News Argus, the student newspaper. Jordan says, “In Urbino, I enjoyed learning to speak Italian, and meeting Italians and learning things about their culture. But my favorite part was the food. I have never tasted tomatoes as fresh. Bellissimo! And the pizza back home in Durham, North Carolina, will never be the same for me.”

SARAH LORSCH is a senior at California State University in Northridge. Sarah majors in journalism with an emphasis in magazine and public relations and a minor in communications. She says of her time in Urbino, “I loved stracciatella—chocolate chip—gelato and feeling the burn in my legs as I walked up all of the hills in town. “


JORDAN HOWSE graduated in May 2011 from Winston-Salem State University in WinstonSalem, North Carolina. She majored in mass communications with a concentration in print journalism and was the editor of the award-winning student newspaper, The News Argus. Jordan now works as a business reporter at The High Point Enterprise in High Point, North Carolina. Of her time in Urbino, she says, “I enjoyed the array of food choices, especially Chinese and Greek— and, of course, pasta and pizza.”

LAURYN SMITH has an associate of arts degree from Elgin Community College in Elgin, Illinois, and plans to transfer to a four-year university as a junior in fall 2011. She says that her affection for Urbino began with a single glance at the mountainous surroundings and grew with each warm encounter with the locals. “After experiencing pausa, lengthy dinners, and late-night gatherings in the town’s piazza, I am excited to share with friends and family the Italian concept of taking time and enjoying the moment.”

JALILA SINGERFF is a fourth-year communications studies major at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Jalila says, “My experience in Urbino has expanded and improved my writing skills, introducing me to a magazine writing style. I got the opportunity to engage in Urbino’s culture, experiencing the food, the wine, and the exciting nightlife. I also made new friends and met interesting individuals along my journey.”

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CARYN MACONI is a junior at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she has a double major in journalism and elementary education. She is a sports reporter for the CU Independent and the communications manager for the student-run sports broadcast, CU SportsMag. Though this summer was Caryn’s first time in Italy, she has family roots in the country. She says, “In Urbino, I drank more wine than water and hiked up a cobblestone mountain every day. La vita italiana will forever have a place in my heart.”


AMANDA SMITH is a senior majoring in magazine journalism at State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She says that although international reporting was tough, she reveled in the relaxation of Italian life. When she wasn’t reporting, Amanda spent her time taking beautiful photographs of Le Marche’s stunning landscapes, traveling as much as possible, and eating tons of gelato.

LINDSEY KREGER is a junior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she is studying in the school of media arts and design with a concentration in journalism. Lindsey works as a designer for the Bluestone, JMU’s yearbook. She says of her time in Italy, “I wouldn’t change my experience in Urbino for anything. I have met some amazing people, seen some of the most beautiful parts of Italy, and made lasting memories. My experience here has been unforgettable.”


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BIANCA PENDER is a senior at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is a mass communications major with a concentration in print journalism; a staff member of the school newspaper, The News Argus; and a member of the campus chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. Bianca says, “I have learned so much by participating in the ieiMedia program, and I had fun doing so. Not only did I gain more knowledge about journalism and magazine production, but I also discovered a lot about the Italian culture.”

MADELYN WIGLE will graduate in 2013 from the school of media arts and design at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with a concentration in corporate communications and a minor in history. Madelyn is a program advisor at JMU’s First Year Involvement Center. About her Urbino experience, she says, “Never in my life have I wanted to sleep so little, just to absorb everything this city and the people had to offer. From our weekend adventures to our time spent sitting in the piazza, it’s been an experience to fill the soul.”

EMMALIE VANCE graduated in May 2011 from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism and a minor in graphic design. Of Urbino she says, “Between the breathtaking views, the rich history of the hillside city, and gelato every day, my time in Urbino has been all sweet and no bitter. The small town made for a perfect experience in Italian culture, and although I cannot stay forever, I have plenty of photos to look back on.”

VICTORIA STAPLES is a senior at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She majors in mass communications with a concentration in print journalism. Victoria says, “Not only has my study-abroad experience in Urbino increased my knowledge and whet my appetite about magazine journalism, but it has also given me an opportunity to experience authentic Italy – the fashion, cuisine, and culture. I plan to make a return visit to Urbino to pick up where I left off. And I hope to participate in other ieiMedia study-abroad opportunities.”

c uc lu tl t uu rre a l lia nng uga gue a “LINGUA IDEALE” is the University of Urbino center of Italian language and culture for non-native speakers. We offer a wide variety of courses, available throughout the year. Our instructional approach focuses on first-hand cultural appreciation as a privileged vehicle for language acquisition. High-quality programs, professional and creative staff, team work and attention to individual needs are our strong points.


i t ai tl ai lai anno Urbino NOW ‘11-’12

Giovanna Carloni Instruction Coordinator


i id d ee aa ll e

Eduardo Fichera Enrollment Coordinator,

W W W . L I N G U A I D E A L E . I T

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Urbino Now (2011-2012)  

The travel magazine of Italy's Le Marche region, a student-produced publication from ieiMedia.

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