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Summer in Le Marche


Shop the Saturday market   with a fashion diva

Behind the masks OF commedia dell’arte

Day Trip: Italy’s craft beer capital

Unearthing the Via Flaminia Mystery of the heart-shaped book


bike the beach, mushroom madonna, THE IDEAL CITY, a cheese dynasty

An ieiMedia publication




2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  1


Urbino Now, the magazine of Italy’s Le Marche region  Number 3, 2012 – 2013

Bella Vista Inside cover: COURTLY MUSIC Photo by Samantha Benedict 01  Soccer fans celebrate Photo by Ashley Grisham 08  In charity’s kitchen Photos by Kaitlin McKinney 56  The business of bees Photos by Emily Harmon Cover:  A seaside kite vendor strolls the beach at Pesaro. Photo by Elizabeth Zabel This page:  The Marche countryside. Photo by Elizabeth Zabel

Go Native 10  What to do during pausa, the curse of the Ducal Palace, a guide to Italian e-mail and text etiquette, two pastas to die for, and six more tips and tidbits to help you feel like a local.

Arte e Cultura 16  Behind the Mask The handmade masks of Fa Maschere keep alive a 500-year-old theatrical tradition. Plus: A visual who’s who of Commedia Dell’Arte’s main characters. Story and photos by Allison Butler 21 Restoring the Heart of History A heart-shaped book holds music, poems, a journal—and a 500-yearold mystery. Story and photos by Mikayla Francese 24 In the Footsteps of Ancient Rome Urbino archaeologists uncover the life — and deaths — of a Roman town on the Via Flaminia. Story and photos by Megan Northcote

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Mangia Bene

Urbino Centro


28 Simplicity Ashley and Jason Bartner will teach you the secret of Italian cooking.

34 Healing the Cracks Art restoration students repair artwork damaged in a 2009 earthquake — and help to heal lives.

48 Mushroom Madonna A day with Tonti Agostina, champion mushroom hunter.

Story and photos by Leah De Graaf

Story by Sofia Lugo

Illustrations by Olivia Wise

31  Sempre Famiglia For the Beltramis of Cartoceto, making olive oil and cheese is a family affair. Story by Nandi Alexander Photos by Elizabeth Zabel

Photos by Timothy Reuter 38 Paradise Lost Federico da Montefeltro’s Urbino was a perfect society of arts, math, and science. Today, the Palazzo Ducale still offers a window into his utopia. Plus: Decoding an iconic painting, La Città Ideale. Story by Erica Demson 42  La Diva Della Via Want to look like an Urbinata? Visit the Saturday market with our fashionista. Story and styling by Azia Toussaint

Story by Stephanie Strickland

52  Where Beer Maketh Glad the Heart of Man Visit Apecchio — the Città della Birra — where craft beer is replacing fine wine. Story and photos by Milana Katic 54  Sea by Cycle On the beach-side bike trail from Pesaro to Fano. Story and photo by Pachia Lee 05 Editor’s Note 06 Contributors

Photos by Allison Butler

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The magazine of Italy’s Le Marche Region Number 3, 2012 – 2013

8311 Brier Creek Parkway, Suite 105-430 Raleigh, North Carolina 27617 USA

Publisher Andrew Ciofalo

President and Director Andrew Ciofalo

Editor in Chief Susan West Deputy Editor Michael Gold Design Director Bob Ciano Contributors Nandi Alexander, Samantha Benedict, Allison Butler, Leah De Graaf, Erica Demson, Mikayla Francese, Ashley Grisham, Emily Harmon, Milana Katic, Pachia Lee, Sofia Lugo, Kaitlin McKinney, Megan Northcote, Timothy Reuter, Stephanie Strickland, Azia Toussaint, Elizabeth Zabel Program Assistant Marie Gould Italian Instructor Francesca Carducci Interpreters Serena Alessi, Luca Ambrogiani, Alice Bertaccini, Alberto Biondi, Fabiola Castellani, Chiara Ciattaglia, Elena Garbugli, Andrea Gatto, Giada Guastalla, Manuel Khouadri, Alessandra Maci, Sara Manfroni, Ilaria Pasquinelli, Luca Sartori, Elena Sorchiotti, Silvia Verducci Production Layout Beth Brann Consultants Gabriele Cavalera, Olivia Wise Special thanks to: Giuliana Sparaventi, ERSU Urbino, and the town of Urbino

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Executive Director Rachele Kanigel Admissions Director Heather Anderson Urbino Program Director Dennis Chamberlin Urbino Magazine Program Director Susan West Urbino Magazine Program Instructors Michael Gold, Bob Ciano All rights reserved © 2012 – 2013 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. Urbino Now is a travel magazine for English-speaking visitors to Le Marche. Each summer, students write and photograph stories for Urbino Now as part of a month-long study abroad program organized by ieiMedia. For more information about the program and the magazine, visit You can buy copies of this issue and the 2011 edition of Urbino Now on MagCloud. Visit and search for “Urbino Now.”

Doing What it Takes to Get the Story



wo men and two women eased through a hole in

the fence and onto the ancient cobblestones. Though it was early evening, the sun blazed as hot as noon and heat wafted from the stones. One of the men, a highway worker’s reflective vest over his black shirt and pants, motioned the women to him. The second man hung back, taking photos with his cell phone. The young woman with long hair began pacing back and forth on the old road, her Roman-style sandals slapping softly on the stones. Directly in the walker’s path, the second woman stretched out on her belly, squinted through her camera’s viewfinder and hit the shutter. A road crew taking a break? A guerrilla fashion shoot? Nope. It was all in a day’s work for the young lady on the ground, Megan Northcote, a journalism student in the 2012 Urbino Magazine Project. Megan’s assignment for our month-long project was to write about an archaeological dig along the Via Flaminia, the 2,000-year-old road that once ran from Rome to Rimini. The month was coming to an end, and she’d interviewed the scientists, seen the artifacts, collected background information, and written most of the story. But she’d never actually seen the site: As can happen to a foreign correspondent, miscommunications, cancellations, and mysteriously changing rules had frustrated her many attempts to get first-hand details and photographs. Instructor Michael Gold had driven

her to the site once, but the perimeter fence kept her and her camera at a distance. This time, she had come with reinforcements — Michael, design instructor Bob Ciano, and illustrator and design assistant Olivia Wise. Olivia found a break in the fence, Bob (mischievously wearing that reflective vest) directed the photo shoot, and Megan got down to work — literally. That’s what ieiMedia founder and president Andrew Ciofalo calls “experiential learning”— learning by doing, and doing, and doing. And that’s what sets ieiMedia’s programs apart from other study-abroad offerings: The students have to stretch, in more ways than one. At the beginning of June, our students arrived in a place they’d never been to, in a culture they didn’t know, where people spoke a language they didn’t understand, and were expected to create a magazine that would explain that place and those people to you, our readers. Four weeks later, they had succeeded. We hope you enjoy the results. Grazie mille, Susan West, Editor in Chief P.S. Megan finally did visit the Via Flaminia site “officially,” guided by the archaeologists she had interviewed. Her story, on page 24, won the Urbino Magazine Project 2012 Award for Reporting.



Nandi Alexander is a junior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, majoring in media arts and design and justice studies. She plans to be a lawyer and a lobbyist. Nandi says, “My motto is ‘Live every day like it’s your last.’ Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.”

Allison Butler just graduated from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, with a degree in journalism and minors in apparel merchandising and critical studies in design. She has been the photography director of the Iowa State Fashion Show and photographed the Iowa caucuses for Google.

Samantha Benedict majors in photojournalism at San Francisco State University. Of her time in Urbino she says, “I learned far more than just journalism. I learned about life, growing up, passion, culture, and cuisine!”

Leah De Graaf studies journalism and mass communication at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, and reports for the Iowa State Daily. One of her passions is traveling and discovering different perspectives and cultures. This trip was Leah’s fifth time abroad, but her first in Europe.

6  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

Erica Demson is a rising senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, studying cultural communications and religion. Erica says, “From the people to the artwork to the architecture, I don’t think I will ever experience such beauty all in one place ever again.”

Mikayla Francese has a degree in journalism and fashion design from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, and will attend graduate school in communications there in the fall. Of her time in Urbino she says, “I am now more confident than ever to pursue my career.”

Emily Harmon majors in journalism and international studies at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Of her time in Urbino she says, “Cappuccinos in Urbino eight times a day will never be matched in greatness, and the same goes for the reporting experience I gained.”

Ashley Grisham majors in media arts and design at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She says, “I had been to the tourist towns of Italy, but I’ve never had this unique opportunity to learn, observe, write about, and photograph the beauty of daily Italian life.”

Milana Katic is a junior at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, studying journalism, political science, and Spanish. She takes every opportunity to see as much of the world as possible. Recent travels have taken her all over Europe, and she hopes to one day visit Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Pachia Lee attends WinstonSalem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and majors in mass communications. Pachia says, “The people I have met and the friendships I have gained in Urbino, Italy, will stay with me forever.”

Stephanie Strickland is a senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, studying media arts and design and communication. Stephanie blogs for her sorority and for a wedding-inspired site she created. In the fall, she will work for JMU’s Public Affairs Office.

Sofía Lugo is a journalism major at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. She was born in Venezuela and moved to Canada in 2007. That move, at age 15, opened her eyes to the world around her and increased her desire to know more about it.

Azia Toussaint is a senior in mass communications at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia. Born in Queens, New York, and raised in Brooklyn, she was exposed to many different cultures. While embracing them all, her absolute favorite is the Haitian culture.

Kaitlin McKinney majors in journalism and mass communication at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Kaitlin says, “I’m leaving with professional journalistic skills gained with the help of experienced and talented professors.”

Megan Northcote will graduate December 2012 from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, with degrees in public history and cultural anthropology and a minor in communication. Currently, she freelances for The High Country Press in Boone.

Timothy Reuter attends Iowa State University, in Ames, Iowa, majoring in journalism and mass communication and international studies. He says, “This has truly been one of the most memorable experiences of my college career.”

Liz Zabel majors in journalism and mass communication and international studies at Iowa State University in Ames. Liz loves outdoor adventure, but her biggest passion is photography. She hopes to work for a magazine that combines these two passions…perhaps Outside.

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IN CHARITY’S KITCHEN Sister Angelina is one of six Sisters of Charity who maintain the Suore della Carita Pensionato Universitario S. Felicita, a dormitory in Urbino for female university students. At right, she prepares dinner for the residents. “My mother was ill, so I have always done everything for my family,” she says. Photos by Kaitlin McKinney. (Full story online at

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2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  9

GO NATIVE Pause for Pausa

Leah De Graaf

Gated storefronts, dark grocery stores, and deserted streets might not be the greeting you’d expect upon arrival in Urbino, the quintessential Renaissance city. But if the time is between 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., this is the likely scene. The Italian pausa, similar to the Spanish siesta, is a break in the midday for storeowners and employees alike to close up shop and escape the busy day. While the rest of Italy grows closer to the international 9-to-5 work day, small cities and towns like Urbino still retain traditional practices. Giovanni Garbugli, owner and operator of the Sugar Caffé in Urbino, says most workers during pausa go home, enjoy a small lunch, take a little rest or even a nap, finish some much overdue housework, or pick up a book to read. Ashley Bartner, co-owner and operator of La Tavola Marche Organic Farm, Inn, and Cooking School, learned about pausa the hard way. She and her husband, Jason Bartner, discovered that hosting Italians for lunch is more than a one to two hour meal: After several rounds of cards, a quick nap by the pool, coffee and final good-byes, the “lunch” lasted until well after 4 p.m. The couple’s stress levels rose when they realized they still had the evening’s dinner to plan. Now, she and Jason entertain only at dinner. For a tourist in Urbino, the two-to-four hour lull can generate extreme frustration. The most necessary tasks of the day always seem fall within pausa. But don’t get discouraged, says Garbugli; instead, embrace the local custom and find your inner Italian. How to pass the time? He suggests taking in the unforgettable views on a walk around the city, planning activities for the next day, or sitting and enjoying the Piazza della Repubblica with a cappuccino shakerato (iced cappuccino) at Caffé Basili. Then watch as the streets of Urbino come alive once more. – Leah De Graaf

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A Street for Italy’s “Beating Heart” Walking long roads on steep hills can be tiring, and Urbino’s elegant landscape is filled with these kinds of byways. Knowing the history of some of the streets you hike will give you something to focus on other than your shaking legs. Take, for example, Via Giuseppe Mazzini. This is the main street that leads from the Borgo Mercatale to the Piazza della Repubblica. Walking up this hill, you pass through one of the most vital parts of the city, with everything from pizza restaurants to shoe and bag boutiques and even hardware stores. Maybe that’s why the street was named after the “Beating Heart of Italy,” as Giuseppe Mazzini was called. Mazzini (1805 to 1872) was a journalist and Italian politician, and a leader of the Risorgimento movement that helped unite the various states along the Italian peninsula into one country. Mazzini’s dream had been to create a democratic republic; however, the country was unified in 1861 as a monarchy. It wasn’t until 1946, long after his death, that Italy became a republic. So it’s fitting that Via Mazzini leads to the square that commemorates that event, Piazza della Repubblica.   –  Azia Toussaint

Debunking the Curse of the Ducal Palace Want to know a little secret about Urbino’s infamous Ducal Palace? Legend has it that university students believe this site is cursed, and refuse to enter the palace for fear of never graduating. While some believe this to be true, most think it’s a silly myth. Former university student Ilaria Pasquinelli is proof the “curse” is not true. “It’s more of a legend, part of the Urbino culture, than an actual belief,” she says. “We are in a small town

Kaitlin McKinney

Order Coffee Like an Italian

with some superstitious people who believe it, but I visited twice as a student and graduated in 2010.” People who really do fear the palace don’t know what they are missing. This Renaissance-style art gallery will leave you in awe of the inlaid woodwork throughout Federico’s study, his initials and crests along the palace walls, and the restored chambers belonging to this former duke. It is one of Urbino’s greatest treasures, full of history, beauty, and art — all worth seeing for yourself. – Stephanie Strickland

“It’s a way of life,” says Giovanni Garbugli, co-owner of Urbino’s Sugar Café, as he explains why coffee in Italy is the best in the world. Want to order coffee like a native? Here are a few tips on what to drink and how to order it, Italian-style. •  In the U.S., a “macchiato” is likely to come with caramel flavoring. But in Italy, a macchiato is very different. “Macchiato” literally means “marked” or “spotted.” And in Italy, that is just how the people like it: A shot of espresso spotted with just a little bit of milk is a “caffé macchiato.” A “latte macchiato,” on the other hand, is a cup of warm milk spotted with espresso. The more common form is the caffé macchiato. •  A nywhere in the States, a “latte” is well known to be a mix of milk and espresso. In Italy, asking for a latte will get you a glass of milk. Why not order like a true Italian and get a cappuccino? A cappuccino is mostly espresso with some milk, often served in a ceramic cup to keep the drink warm. •  When you want to experience a novelty coffee found only in Urbino, the Sugar Café, located at the corner of Via N. Pellipario and Giro dei Debitori, is the place to go. Their specialty, Di Zucchero Café Stile Estivo, which means “sugar coffee summer style,” is a unique blend of espresso, Nutella cream plus secret ingredients, and light whipped cream to top it off. And if you want to really blend in, you will never go wrong by ordering a simple shot of espresso. – Mikayla Francese Sugar Café Via Giro dei Debitori, 24 61029 Urbino, Italy 0722 350 464

Open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Saturday, 6 a.m to 3 p.m. Closed Sunday and holidays.

2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  11


Cheek Kissing 101 Two fashionably dressed Italian women wave to each other and scream, “Ciao!” Quickly, they approach one another, dive in for a hug, and kiss on both cheeks. Walking around Urbino, you’ll see this scene repeated everywhere, a simple hello gesture between family and friends. Although the double cheek-kiss is more popular among the young natives of Urbino, it is also done by the elderly.

Pasta so good you’ll die? Rumor has it that a certain type of pasta, strozzapreti, was so good that it once strangled a priest. He was so enthralled with the dish that he ate it too quickly, choked, and met his demise. While you surely don’t want to meet the same ending, this particular type of pasta is something you shouldn’t miss. According to Valerio Piergiovanni, co-owner of the restaurant Il Ragno d’Oro, it is one of their most popular menu options. “It is popular, especially in Urbino, because this pasta spans two regions,” says Piergiovanni, referring to Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany. He also adds that almost every restaurant in Urbino serves it. Il Ragno d’Oro makes the pasta by cutting the dough into short lengths, rolling the pieces up into round tubes, and clapping them between two hands. This produces a slightly curled, twisted noodle, which is then cooked in

Allison Butler

Pasta to Die For

boiling water with salt until it rises to the top of the pot. Dishes containing “strangle-the-priest” noodles traditionally come in two varieties, with herb and sausage or smoked ham and spinach.

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Il Ragno d’Oro serves the sausage-and-herb variation. Piergiovanni recommends pairing the dish with a white wine such as Verdicchio or Passerina Brut. And be careful to eat slowly. – Allison Butler

Il Ragno d’Oro Viale Don Minzoni, 2 61022 Urbino, Italy 0722 327 705 Open every day, 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.


Learn the Lingua Digitale No doubt you already know how to answer the phone in Italy (“Pronto”) and how to say goodbye

Divine Light The Ducal Star, a glass lampshade based on a mathematical design that dates back to the 1400s, is a symbol of Urbino’s Renaissance. The shape of this star is considered mathematically perfect and was first described in De Divina Proportione (About the Divine Proportions), a book by mathematician Luca Pacioli, illustrated

E-mail Proper e-mail etiquette can go a long way toward helping you make a reservation or get information from a travel agency. Greeting: Address the recipient as “Gentile Sig.” or “Gentile Sig.ra,” which translate to “Dear Sir” and “Dear Madam.” Closing: You might be tempted to use “Ciao,” but

by Leonardo da Vinci, which dates to around 1497. Made of blown glass and brass, the lamp adorned the noble homes of Urbino. Nowadays, the method of making the shades may be the same as that used by 15th-century craftsmen, but the lamps can be found everywhere, such as university buildings, the windows of Raffaello Degusteria on Via Bramante, and above the

that is reserved for informal situations and would be considered rude if used in a formal email. Instead, use “Cordiali saluti,” the English equivalent of “sincerely” or “salutations.” If you are thanking someone in advance for a favor use “Anticipatamente ringrazio.”

Trp means troppo, “too much.” “Bologna e’ trp lontana!” “Bologna is too far away!” Sn means sono, “I am.” “Sn in piazza.” “I am in the piazza.” Xké means perché, “why” or “because.” “Xké nn usciamo?” “Why don’t we go out?” “Xké sn stanca.” “Because I’m tired.” Px means posso, “I can.” “Px passare da te!” “I can come to you!” Gg means giorni, “days.” “Fra 3 gg parto.” “I will leave in 3 days.” – Erica Demson

Texting The Italians are just as busy texting on their smartphones as Americans. The American “LOL” has even made its way into Italian texting lingo. Here are other tips for deciphering Italian text messages:



(“Arrivederci”). But what about e-mail and texting? They have a style all their own. Here are some tips to keep you from getting “lost in translation.”

“It is an act of affection and shows the beauty of being together,” says a faculty member of University of Urbino. So when an Italian friend leans in for a kiss, don’t assume she’s trying to make a move on you. Here’s how to reciprocate: Move toward your right and gently press your left cheek against the other person’s left cheek, then switch sides and do the same with the right cheek. Follow this rule, and you’ll never go wrong greeting an Italian. – Pachia Lee

tables of the restaurant Vecchia Urbino on Via dei Vasari. In fact, you can buy one of these lamps for your own noble home. Visit Bottega d’Arte Nevio Sorini at 107 Via Mazzini, where they are handmade by Vittoria Gulini. A medium-size shade costs 160 euros, and Gulini will pack the lamp so you can carry it home without worry. – Sofia Lugo

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Megan Northcote

Roman Remnants Revealed

Federico Fest Jousting. Dance. Poetry. Soccer. These events and more take place every August at Urbino’s annual Festa del Duca. This festival celebrates the majesty of the past: the Court of Federico da Montefeltro. It has honored the cultural legacy of this court for 31 years. The festival includes something for everyone. Artisans such as basket makers and wood carvers showcase their work and provide children the opportunity to learn techniques that date back many years. Performers dance, recite poetry, play music, and appear in both theater and film productions. In honor of the court of Montefeltro, there is an archery tournament, staged just as it was centuries ago. For 2012, the festival adds two new events. The first is L’Aita, a military game played in the 1500s. In addition, costumed teams will play a game of calcio storico fiorentino — a version of soccer that originated in Florence in the 16th century. Fireworks will end the festival. The 2012 Festa del Duca will be held August 17, 18, and 19. For more information, visit – Nandi Alexander 14  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

Most people regard Urbino as a quaint Renaissance walled city, overflowing with 15th century Raphael masterpieces and grandiose Ducale Palace architecture. But few realize traces of even more ancient architecture, including curved Roman arches and triangular Medieval arches, can still be found incorporated into modern-day buildings. Inside the courtyard of the University of Urbino economics department off Via A. Saffi, for example, you can marvel at part of an original city boundary wall from Medieval times composed of bricks and chunks of marble. Across the street, at Via S. Girolamo, take a look at a brick building constructed atop a footing of marble column (shown at left). In Roman times, a row of full-sized columns stood here, signifying to a horse and buggy approaching the city to begin making the turn through the city entrance arch, a few yards beyond the columns. – Megan Northcote

Pass the Passatelli, Please

in and around Urbino. The physical properties of the noodles are what make the dish special. They are long, thick, and spongy — much more enjoyable than their

description suggests. As del Leone’s passatelli chef Nadia Silvestri (shown below, on right) puts it, “It is special because it is simple, tasty, and it also fills you.” Pasta simplicity at its finest, folks — you just can’t pass on the passatelli. – Milana Katic La Trattoria del Leone Via Cesare Battisti, 5 61029 Urbino, Italy 0722 329 894 Open for dinner all week; open for lunch Saturday, Sunday, holidays, and by reservation. U

Milana Katic (2)

At the restaurant La Trattoria del Leone, located on Via Cesare Battisti in Urbino, the traditional Le Marche dish passatelli in brodo reigns supreme. Made from a mixture of grated bread, mixed pecorino cheeses, parmesan, eggs, and a bit of salt and nutmeg, passatelli noodles are first squeezed through a potato press and then cooked in a pot of boiling beef or veal broth until they float. Traditionally, the noodles are served in the broth, but there are other versions of

the dish that can be made with a fried vegetable medley or even with truffles and shellfish. This regional favorite in all its variations is available in many restaurants

2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  15


Dark unkempt hair tucked underneath a cream fedora, billowing linen shirt revealing only a pinch of chest hair, and loose khaki-colored pants. He arrives at our table, having successfully completed the obstacle course through the rows of tables and chairs that line the café. Leaning strongly to one side, he swings an arm forward to reveal a trunk. Tattered, jade green, complete with camel-colored buckles, the trunk finds its resting place on the table in front of us. We sit like children waiting for a magic show to begin. It creaks open, and one by one he reveals his treasures: masks of Italy’s traditional Commedia Dell’Arte. Pulling out one after the other, he lays his shiny creations down as if they were eggs about to break, smiling proudly. The room fills with the scent of fresh leather. A man of many talents, Federico Gargagliano does much more than show and tell. He is a master leather mask maker in the Commedia Dell’Arte art form. Gargagliano and 16  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

BEHIND his partner, Alessandra Ceccarelli, produce one-of-a-kind, hand-made leather masks under their company name, Fa Maschere. They also put the masks to good use, acting in their own theater troupe, Circa Teatro. Before his self-made success, Gargagliano was a street performer but wanted more. His journey to becoming a mask-maker took off while he was attending the University of Urbino. He met and began working under Georgio Di Marchi in 2003 during his studies. He graduated in 2004 with a degree in preserving art and began working full time as an apprentice for Di Marchi making leather masks. Fortunate enough to travel around the world with his master, Gargagliano learned enough to take off on his own. In 2009 he started his company with Ceccarelli, who is also his girlfriend. Ceccarelli focuses more on the delicate and detailed elements of the company. She makes all of the hats for the masks as well as creating

artistic touches on the faces such as colorful paint and facial hair. When crafting the masks, Gargagliano uses hand-made bone and wood tools, compliments of Ceccarelli. Jacks of many trades, these two also perform in their theater troupe in the roles of Arlecchino and a servant named Cincilla. Projecting a mysterious, dark, puzzling aura, Gargagliano fits right in with the devilish personality of Arlecchino. Translating in other languages as “Harlequin,” Arlecchino is known for his exaggerated tricks, violent movements, and outrageous transgressions. He is the most well-known stock character in the Commedia Dell’Arte, but there are many others. Beginning in the early 1500s, this improvisational, interpretive art form brought relief to the public, allowing them to temporarily escape often difficult daily lives. Because the stories were told through gesture and universally understood expressions, they were accessible to everyone. Shows at this time were performed

Federico Gargagliano, both mask-maker and actor, often takes on the role of the trickster Arlecchino in performances of Commedia Dell’Arte. Opposite, one of Fa Maschere’s masks in the making.


Story and photos by Allison Butler

at open-air theaters. The actors were equipped with costumes and masks, transforming them into the characters that have existed since the 1500s and continue to exist today. A common theme of the art form is love. The young people are often searching for the meaning of it, asking everyone in town. The servants play an important role, being the messengers for the rich as well as the brains behind most of the schemes. In the end, the older people are the only ones with real knowledge, educating the young. The style evolved from the improvisation style of the 1500s to a more pantomime style, with fewer words in the 1700s. Vastly popular during these 200 years, the art form was

All of Fa Maschere’s masks are made from Tuscan leather. Top row and middle row, left, Gargagliano carefully molds wet leather over a form of facial features. Middle row, right, Gargagliano nails the leather onto the form; below, Gargagliano will make a seam to fit the leather over the nose. Opposite page, maskmakers Alessandra Ceccarelli and Federico Gargagliano, at home with their daughter, Alice.

18  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

then forbidden in Italy under Napoleonic law in the 1800s. The only traces of the style could be found in puppets and in the red nose of a clown. The nose was a key component of the Commedia Dell’Arte stock character Pierrot, and it symbolized its survival. Long after the Commedia’s sudden disappearance, Italy was faced with the difficulties of World War II. Having been effectively split into two, the country was seeking reunification. A group of artists contacted Amleto Sartori, who was famous for his work with leather theatrical masks, and asked him to revive the lost art. In 1953 Sartori made a set of classic Commedia Dell’Arte masks for a theater company in Venice, and the art

form was alive again. People from all over Italy attended the shows. The masks are the glue within the plays. Each element of the mask is carefully chosen, representing a different expression or gesture for the actor. Both Gargagliano and Ceccarelli enjoy the process of making these unique leather masks. It takes between four and five days and begins with the selection of leather. They use only one hundred percent natural leather from Tuscany, which is known for its high quality. Once the leather is selected, the shaping process begins. On the first day the leather is wet down with warm water, molded by hand over a form with facial features

carved into it, then nailed down to hold its shape. On the second day, when the leather is half dry, they use their hand-made tools to smooth it, allowing it to dry completely. On the third day the nose is the main focus. They begin by making a fourmillimeter seam down the center of the nose, wetting the leather again to make it pliable, and finally sealing it in place with fish glue. On the fourth day colors are added as well as wax to protect the

mask against water damage, sweat, and daily wear and tear. During the fifth and final days they coat both sides of the mask with fish glue and oil. “What is well done remains,” says Gargagliano about the lengthy, manual process. With all steps complete, it’s time to send the mask to its new owner. Gargagliano looks proud yet sad as he gingerly places a freshly finished mask into a shipping box. Having spent countless intensive hours on

this piece of art, he is understandably attached. Ceccarelli looks on fondly, and explains, “Masks are like orphans, they need a body. When they find a body we are happy for them,” she says. Gargagliano smiles and closes the box, knowing it’s going to a good home. U Fa Maschere 329 934 3372

Who’s Who: The Main Characters of Commedia Dell’Arte

Pulcinella From Naples. Poor worker who is often married but rarely in love. Dark mask filled with wrinkles and a wart, showing age. Gargagliano’s take: “Ancient, friendly.”

Il Doctorre From Bologna. A comic character that makes fun of the professors at the university in Bologna. Mask covers only the forehead and nose, allowing the actor to have reddened cheeks to show his fondness for alcohol. Gargagliano’s take: “Pedantic, ridiculous, forgetful.”

20  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

Pantalone Di Bisognosi From Venice. Uses Venetian dialect. Top of the pecking order of stock characters; what he says goes. Mask adorned with a mustache and other white facial hair, symbolizing knowledge. Gargagliano’s take: “Kind, cheap.”

Il Capitano Spanish Captain, introduced after the birth of the Commedia Dell’Arte. Represents foreign domination, a bold soldier. Large, meant to attract women and intimidate men. Gargagliano’s take: “Vainglorious, fresh, scared.”

Arlecchino From Bergamo. Speaks in Venetian dialect. The evil spirit of a deceased child, son of a witch, who came back as Arlecchino. Big mouth and flat cheeks signal he is poor and always looking for food. Gargagliano’s take: “Hungry, terrible, sly.”

ARTE E CULTURA The sign reads “Oliveriana Biblioteca.” Step by step, with a long line of stairs in front of us, we make our way into the hall of the ancient library in the center of modern Pesaro, Italy. As we look around, all we can see are books of various shapes and sizes behind glass doors that seem to scream, “Do not touch.” The librarian, Maria Gra zia Alberini, greets us with a smile as my interpreter explains who we are. She walks into a back room and returns a few minutes later. In her hands she holds the mysterious book. “Here,” says the librarian as she passes it to me. “Hold it.” In awe, I take the book. I slide the latch, creating the sound of an ageold story unfolding. Dust fills the air as the leather cover opens into the

Restoring the

Heart of History Story and photos by Mikayla Francese shape of a heart. My finger moves over the dry pages. They are more than five centuries old. “It was found in this library,” says Alberini. “We asked Mr. Vincenzo Santoro to restore it — because he is the best.” It was a week earlier in Santoro’s shop that I first heard about this unique book, and decided I had to see it, hold it, and feel its mystery. In the closet-sized workspace in Urbino, Santoro greeted me excitedly with outstretched arms, calling “Ciao! Ciao!” and looking as if he were welcoming a celebrity or an old friend. His wide eyes glistened through tiny glasses; his scruffy beard complemented his thick black hair with gray highlights. The five-foot-tall restoration expert seemed twice that height with his joyful presence. The walls were covered with his successes, pictures of antique but now renewed books and paintings were framed and hung with pride. Santoro said that he started studying the art of restoration during high

A heart-shaped book holds music (for the love song “J’ay Pris Amour”), poems, a journal —  and a 500-yearold mystery.

2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  21

school and continued during college at the University of Urbino. He decided he wanted to teach the technique to younger students. Now a high school teacher in the city of Urbino, he runs a well-respected sideline in restoring books and works of art from all around Italy. Books, he said, were his favorite. One in particular caught my attention as he explained that it was one of the most mysterious objects he had ever seen. “J’ay Pris Amour,” he called it. Translated from old French, the title means “I have taken love.” He pointed to a picture on the wall. There it was — a book in the shape of a heart. He said that the book had three parts: a section of written music, pages of poems, and a journal. “The author is unknown,” he added. “Based on the restoration process, I know that it was written in the 1500s. I think it might have belonged to Duke Guidobaldo’s wife, Elisabetta Gonzaga.” Now, 20 miles from Urbino, I stand in Pesaro’s Oliveriana library with the open heart sitting in my hands. I see the words in front of me as I look at the first few pages of the book: “J’ay Pris Amour.” The words on these pages are the lyrics of a French chanson popular in the 1400s. The written music is the accompaniment that was to be played on the lute. I start to wonder about Santoro’s speculation: Might this book really have belonged to Elisabetta Gonzaga? I can almost see her, the weight of Urbino on her shoulders, further burdened by worries of her husband’s health. As heir of the great Duke Federico da Montefeltro, Guidobaldo needs to keep the city of Urbino running prosperously and peacefully, but his body has failed him. I imagine her sitting on a chair next to his bed, managing interruptions from members of court and governmental subordinates who come to her with personal concerns, requests to consider, and legal matters to decide. Seeing the stress in her eyes, Guidobaldo thanks her for never leaving his side. She smiles and gives a tiny giggle as if to say that even the thought of leaving him is absurd. She might then pick up her lute. Holding the neck of the instrument with one hand, she places the other ready to pluck the strings on its round, wooden frame. Then she reaches for her book, opens it to form the shape of a heart, and sings in a sweet, gentle voice, “I have taken love as my device…” I flip past the pages holding the music of “J’ay Pris Amour” to reach the second part of the book, this one containing words just as deep: hand-written love poems. My imagination stirs again as I wonder whether this might be Elisabetta’s work — or do I see someone else now holding the book? I envision a woman grasping an ancient pen, dipping it into the black liquid that sits in front of her, and then opening the heart and starting to write. The pen bleeds these words onto the paper…“Chi dice chio mi do poche pensiere” (Who says that I give to myself few thoughts). She continues to write as she thinks of the man to whom she will present this unusual gift. “Alzare il capo e dir qual cosa fia” (To lift the head and to say that something will do). 22  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

A wealthy landowner in the 1500s wrote his own family diary onto the later pages of the book, above.

Vincenzo Santoro works on the binding of an ancient book (below) and cleans the pages of another (below left).

I reach the last part of the manuscript, the section with the most clues to its history. Ink faintly shows the name Tempesta Blondi. Experts have identified him as a successful landowner who lived in San Lorenzo in Campo in the 1500s. Around the edges of the tarnished pages are notes describing Blondi’s marriage as well as the death of his father. The title on the fly-leaf of the book reads “Miscellanea di Tempesta Blondi,” confirming that this final section served as a sort of diary. Blondi was a wealthy man whose life was full of culture. He and other members of his family were patrons of and participants in the arts, particularly music and poetry. Looking over the diary, it’s easy for me to imagine a peaceful night in the life of the Blondis. The gentle sounds of the lute fill the household; perhaps a few children dance to the beat. Outside, white flakes fall from the sky; inside, candles bathe the family in a warm light. Tempesta sits on the cushion of a love seat; his wife sits across from him knitting a child’s winter hat. He plucks the strings of the musical instrument that has shaped his past as it continues to bring joy to his present. His oldest comes into the room carrying the book. Tempesta takes the heart and writes out a few sentences to document the evening’s events, while planning on many more to come. As I close the book and study its cover of dry, broken leather, I am pulled back into the present. It was just a couple of days ago that I asked Santoro to describe the process of how he restored such a delicate piece. He explained that long journey while demonstrating some of the techniques on a more recent restoration. “Very carefully,” he said as he slowly took apart the sewn binding one strand at a time, and then removed the pages from the string. “I must scrape off the insect residue,” he explained as he cleaned each page — 380 in all. Santoro wiped Gomma, a dry rubber powder, onto each sheaf and placed the newly fluffed paper into water. He removed the paper to then rub a thick, clear glue onto the soft pages — cautiously so as not to rip them. He opened a drawer in front of him. “My specially imported Japanese paper,” he said as he placed a piece on the table. He sandwiched each newly hardened page between the paper and a piece of gauze and waited for it to dry… I hand the book back to the librarian and contemplate its history, the facts and the imagined possibilities. It is certain that Tempesta Blondi was the author of the journal that appears on its later pages. But who created the book? Who owned it and who wrote the music and poetry onto its pages before the book came into the possession of the Blondi family halfway through the 16th Century? At first, I found it too hard to accept how much is unknown. Now I realize that this is part of its beauty, and a measure of Santoro’s skill. This ancient book is still full of life, love, and mystery— and that is what makes it precious. U Website extra: See ancient books restored by Vincenzo Santoro and others. A list of libraries and collections in Le Marche is at 2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  23


In the Footsteps of Ancient Rome Story and photos by Megan Northcote 

24  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

soft whirring of propeller blades breaks the silence of the sunny, late May afternoon in the Italian Marche countryside. Archaeologist Oscar Mei, hovering in a helicopter, peers down to observe the Archaeological Park of Forum Sempronii, the site of a partially excavated ancient Roman colony. At first glance, the land

appears a vast 60- to 70-acre sea of green wheat. Only the Strada Statale 3, a modernday highway, is clearly visible, bisecting the town along the same route the Via Flaminia followed more than 2,000 years ago from Rome to Rimini on its way to the Adriatic Sea. Mei holds out his camera, snaps a photo of the town’s southeastern quadrant, and reviews the image. The camera screen appears entirely green. But then he zooms in. In the midst of the green field emerges a clearly defined, yellow ochre semi-circle. Instantly, he has a hunch about what lurks beneath the wheat at this unexcavated section of town—a Roman amphitheatre. Turns out, he was right. Mei joined the ranks of students working at Forum Sempronii in 1994, adding to 20 years of ancient Roman ruin discoveries made by archaeologists-in-training. Every summer since 1974, Mario Luni, director of excavations at the site and classical archaeology professor at the University of Urbino, has instructed students like Mei in 40-day field schools. Forum Sempronii is located 15 miles southeast of Urbino, within the present day town of Fossombrone. Under Luni’s meticulous guidance, Mei worked (or dug) his way up the excavation ladder, also becoming a professor of archaeology and now serving as Luni’s assistant director of excavations. “Mario Luni gave me the opportunity to work to the highest level of archaeology,” Mei said. “He taught me you have to work with an open mind and without preconceptions.” For instance, Mei’s assumption that the semi-circular pattern in the photo represented a Roman amphitheatre wasn’t enough to please Luni. They had to dig before deciding if Mei’s hypothesis held true. It did. Last year, Luni and Mei assisted students in excavating the entrance of the amphitheatre, uncovering cobblestone walls approximately a yard high as well as part of the original floor. How do Mei’s aerial photos enable archaeologists to see beneath the soil and detect where Roman ruins are hidden? It’s not magic. As Mei explains, every year between late May and early June when the wheat is in full bloom, archaeologists have about 10 days (before the entire field turns brown) to detect the yellow ochre lines caused by the ancient structures hidden beneath the soil. These structures prevent ample nutrients from reaching the plants directly above, killing that wheat a few days earlier than the rest of the field. But you don’t always need a camera to uncover the past. Sometimes a bit of luck and modern day construction will do the trick. The entire ancient town was discovered in 1974 when construction workers, planning to lay the foundation for a new industrial city, accidentally dug into the settlement’s crumbling walls. Forum Sempronii was founded by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus in 133 BC. For over 700 years, between 200 BC

and 500 AD, this small town teemed with life, boasting between 3,000 and 5,000 inhabitants, primarily farmers. Other residents, Luni said, worked as soldiers, magistrates, and merchants, who traveled up and down the Via Flaminia trying to eke out a living. Constructed between 223 and 220 BC under Roman Consul Caius Flaminius, the Via Flaminia both increased trade among roadside towns and served as a military thoroughfare down which Roman soldiers marched into battle. As the first main Roman road running through Italy, the Via Flaminia greatly expanded the empire. “Just as Americans settled their country from east to west, the Romans moved from west to east, toward the Adriatic Sea. Before the Romans, the land along the Via Flaminia was wild, without agriculture. The Romans reclaimed the fields,” Luni explained. Gracchus founded University of Urbino students Laura Invernizzi, left, and Lara Pollidori examine skeletal remains near the ancient Via Flaminia, whose stones (opposite page) are visible in the Archaeological Park of Forum Sempronii.

Forum Sempronii in the Metauro River Valley after the passage of lex Sempronia, an agricultural law, which mandated equitable distribution of land to farmers. Thanks to Mei, every finding excavated at Forum Sempronii by the university, from the smallest pottery shard to the longest ancient wall, has been meticulously described, measured, photographed and documented in his excavation diary. Among these are several large structures, all within two-and-a-half acres, including: small, private thermal baths; larger, public baths; a 200-meter-long cobblestone stretch of the Via Flaminia intersected by parts of smaller side roads; and a domus or Roman house. Working with their students, Luni and Mei have gleaned much information about daily Roman life through careful examination of these findings. The presence of not just one, but two Roman baths in such a small town suggests the importance these baths held as a means of bringing the community together, especially since the baths were often free or cost very little. “Roman baths are a symbol of Roman life,” Mei said. “For example, in many colonies in the Mediterranean, in Africa, in eastern Turkey, and in Roman colonies, the first structure the Romans constructed was not the forum, basilica, or the temple, but the baths. If I go into the baths, I am a Roman citizen. That was the mentality of this period.” Yet some sections of Forum Sempronii were more socially stratified. Two mosaics, for example, were found on the dining room and bedroom floor when excavating the domus close to the Via Flaminia, suggesting that most people who lived inside the city were wealthier than those who lived further outside. “Romans decorated their homes with mosaics of exotic animals like giraffes and tigers to show off their wealth and to welcome guests to their home,” Luni said. Even smaller objects found in the ditches used for dumping trash outside the domus reveal much about the University archaeologist Oscar Mei helps Invernizzi and Pollidori expose an ancient Roman skeleton first uncovered a few summers ago near the Via Flaminia. Opposite, Mei brushes dirt and pebbles from another specimen.

Romans’ daily activities and diet. Among the lucky finds: gold jewelry, Roman coins, rusty keys, a game die, mussel and clam shells, chicken bones, and even the residue of a kind of Roman cocktail sauce called garum lining the walls of a ceramic pot. To make garum, Mei said, the Romans would pour a mixture of oil, lemon, and vinegar over fish intestines placed inside a bowl and allow it to sit for three months. It was used for flavoring fish and meats. But it’s not just material culture that’s being excavated and documented; ancient Romans are, too. About 15 years ago, with the help of aerial photography (of course!), Mei and Luni’s team stumbled upon a skeleton buried along the Decamanus minor, a side road intersecting the Via Flaminia in the center of town. Over the years, one by one, more and more skeletons were discovered, all buried inside the walls of Roman shops along this side road. In recent years, the archaeological team has mapped a total of 44 skeletons, all of which, laboratory tests reveal, fell victim to the Black Death, a plague that killed many people in Italy around the 5th century AD, roughly corresponding to the abandonment of Forum Sempronii. During the most recent archaeological work, in the summer of 2012, students re-excavated some of these same bodies, removing bones for further laboratory analysis to determine their gender and age. Nearby, another group continued to unearth more interior sections of the domus and the baths. In addition, students pursued further excavations of the amphitheatre that Mei originally spotted from his perch in the helicopter. Equipped with small trowels called scopettas, cameras, and sketch pads, these archaeologists-in-training will continue to explore Roman ruins that lie beneath those short-lived, yellow ochre patterns in the field. U Website extra: Driving the Via Flaminia: an interactive map to guide you along the ancient Roman road — by car! Archaeological Park of Forum Sempronii Via San Martino del Piano Fossombrone, Italy Open in July, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. by appointment (e-mail During off-hours, site is viewable from behind fences Archaeological Museum “A. Vernarecci” Palazzo Ducale Corte Alta, Via del Verziere Fossombrone, Italy 072 171 4645 Summer: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. (closed Monday) Winter: Saturday 3:30 – 6:30 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 3:30 – 6:30 p.m.

2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  27


“Simplicity.” In that one word Jason Bartner sums up his style of cooking. Jason, co-owner and chef of La Tavola Marche Organic Farm, Inn, and Cooking School, specializes in transforming the freshest of local Le Marche ingredients into five-course meals. “I take the freshest ingredients I can and I do the least to them,” says Jason, as he leans against a stone archway dividing the kitchen from the entry room in his 300-year-old

farmhouse. “It has taught me as a cook, it is not what I do, but what I don’t do that makes a dish better.” La Tavola Marche is tucked into the Apennine Mountains about 6 miles northwest of Piobbico. Here, guests learn to prepare local and seasonal dishes of the Le Marche region. Jason, who trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York, and his wife, Ashley Bartner, formerly member relations director at a high-

end New York club, have created a portal for travelers and locals alike to immerse themselves in the simple Italian way of life. Take their regular Thursday pizza night, for example. In the early morning, Jason mixes together milk, olive oil, beer, and flour, then rolls the dough into six-inch spheres and places them in covered plastic containers. As the dough rises, Jason gathers onions, peppers, mushrooms,

Simpl 28  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

Every Thursday night, Ashley and Jason Bartner prepare pizzas for the guests of their agriturismo and cooking school. By continuing the local culinary traditions, the couple hopes to inspire others to eat locally and seasonally.

olives, and tomatoes, mostly from the couple’s garden, for chopping. He places other toppings such as sausage, anchovies, rosemary, and prosciutto in bowls and sets them outside in the center of long oak tables opposite his outdoor stone oven. As the agriturismo’s guests return in the early evening from their adventures, Jason dusts the tables with flour. He hand tosses each ball of pizza dough into 12-inch circles and places them on the dusted tables. Ashley, answering questions from guests and observing from the side, throws Jason a towel to soak up the sweat gathering on his brow. With all the toppings laid out before him, Jason quickly spoons tomato sauce onto each circle. He then shovels the first pizza of the night into the oven where a white-hot crackling fire blazes. A family of four Americans surrounds Jason’s working area, quizzing him as he prepares the pizza.

A Canadian couple, who spent the day in Urbino, takes photos of Jason working, and two Kiwis ask Jason to toss another pizza in the air just one more time. At last, a dozen of Jason and Ashley’s Italian friends and neighbors drive up the way. Handshakes and hugs are exchanged, and the energy of the party increases with the mix of languages and laughter. Jason removes the pizzas one by one. Ashley stands near to sprinkle greens over the top and add the final touches. Then, a pie in each hand, she places them in front of her two dozen awaiting guests. Pizzas of ever y kind — 28 in all — flow from Jason’s oven: potato and ricotta; black olive, pepper, tomato and cucumber; cheese with wild greens; sausage and mushroom; salami piccante; onion; cheese and prosciutto; capers and anchovies; and the simplest, olive oil and rosemary. “This is the first time I have eaten a pizza cooked by an American,” says guest Giorgio Mochi, the mayor of Piobbico. “It’s as good as the Italian ones.” “Sto imparando ancora,” Jason says — I am still learning. The ingredients themselves make the dish, he says. “You can be the best cook in the entire world, but if you don’t have these beautiful things to play with, these beautiful ingredients, you can’t transform them into something that they are not.” Jason and Ashley pride themselves in producing nearly all of their own “beautiful ingredients.” They grow ten varieties of tomatoes, as well as eggplants, onions, beans, berries, melons, and cucumbers. Ashley

icity Story and photographs by Leah De Graaf

2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  29

is responsible for their two roosters and 18 hens, which produce 16 eggs a day. The couple also has apple and nut trees as well as wild leafy greens surrounding their home. The tree-covered Apennine Mountains, nearby Adriatic Sea, and central location of Le Marche are what first caught the attention of Jason and Ashley on their month-long honeymoon during the spring of 2006. But what drew them back was the opportunity to live among Italians. “I just kept 30  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

Instead of showing up at their hosts’ home for finished meals, Jason would ask to learn first-hand by preparing dinner with his hosts. These neighbors and friends from the surrounding towns of Urbania and Piobbico had the greatest influence on Jason’s Italian cooking. “The Italians are great teachers. If you show an interest they are more than willing to teach,” says Jason. Cardiologist Settimio Gaggi, Jason and Ashley’s neighbor and “adopted papa,” has been one of the greatest aids in getting to know the simple Italian way. “They’re very curious, and they want to learn,” says Gaggi. “They came to our house to have lunch and they wanted to learn the dishes they ate in our home. Sometimes they came to my wife, Rossana, and they asked her: ‘How do you cook this dish?’ For them I feel great fondness.” For Jason and Ashley, getting back to the simple way of things has brought them even closer to their Italian neighbors and friends. In fact, it was while delivering homemade apple pies to welcome a new neighbor that Jason and Ashley first met Gaggi, the friend they now consider family. “Food is probably the most accessible way to know a culture and become connected with it,” says Ashley. “I think when you get to know the food of an area, you get to know a bit of their history, too.” As Jason places the last two pizzas of the night in front of his Italian guests, the crowd erupts with cheers. “Che la pizza era buona!” says Giorgio Mochi — the pizza was very tasty! Jason bows and waves his thanks. Applause fills the cool evening air. U

The Thursday pizza nights at La Tavola Marche attract not only the guests of the agriturismo but also friends and neighbors from the surrounding towns, who credit Jason with making pizza as good as an Italian’s.

Website extra: La Tavola Marche chef Jason Bartner debunks the myth of heavy Italian cuisine at

saying, ‘We could live here,’ ” says Ashley. In 2007, they made the move. As the only Americans in the area, the Bartners were soon invited over for dinners with neighbors and taught the main dishes of the region.

La Tavola Marche Agriturismo Ca’Camone Via Candigliano 61046 Piobbico, Italy 331 525 2753


Sempre “Ciao!”



says the short, elderly woman standing behind the counter. On her apron are the words “Gastronomia Beltrami, Cartoceto, Italy.” This is Elide Beltrami, wife of Vittorio Beltrami, a man who has been ordained the “Einstein of cheese” by famous chef Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. With a wide, warm smile, Elide makes me feel as welcome as if I were walking into my local corner store. However, Gastronomia Beltrami is not just your average corner store. Inside the front glass case are piles of pecorino cheese, made from the milk of the Beltramis’ sheep. To the left, stacked on wooden shelves, are jars of fig and other fruit jams, made by Elide and her family and wrapped in brown paper and ribbon. Lastly, on a wide oak cupboard are bottles of glistening green olive oil — a product that brought this family name much praise in the early 1900s — harvested from the Beltramis’ groves and pressed in a 500-year-old palace. Elide Beltrami is A petite woman in her midthe matriarch thirties with short dark-brown hair of the cheeseand olive-oil comes from the back and flashes a making family. smile. This is Cristiana Beltrami, the daughter of Vittorio and Elide Beltrami. “Let’s go on a tour,” she says and I follow her to her car. As she drives, Cristiana explains that she has worked at the shop for 15 years, since graduating with a degree in economics from the University of Urbino. Our first stop overlooks the town; the view is filled with olive trees, churches, hills, and fields. Cartoceto is located in the Marche region and is a municipality in the province of Pesaro and Urbino. Cristiana explains that Cartoceto is part of an association called “Città Dell’Olio”— City of Oil — because of the town’s large production of olive oil. The Marche region, she explains, was a church territory in the 1500s, with a lot of priests, churches, and monasteries. “The olive oil produced in this area would all go to Rome.” The Beltramis have been among the Story by region’s olive growers since 1870. In the 1960s, Vittorio’s father, Quindi, opened a Nandi Alexander tabacchi store that sold everything including Photographs by the family-made olive oil. Vittorio and Elide Elizabeth Zabel took over the business in 1980 and named it

2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  31

Gastronomia Beltrami, adding cheese festivals such as Slow Food InternaIn the 15th-century palace that is now the family’s olive oil factory, and jams. These days, the family grows tional and Milano Food. Lidia BastianCristiana Beltrami explains the 20 different varieties of olives in a ich, American chef, restaurateur, and process of making the oil. secluded area called “Covo dei Brigauthor specializing in Italian food, even Opposite: The Cartoceto region anti”— hideout of bandits — where did a segment on Vittorio Beltrami on is known for olives and cheese. men once took refuge to avoid joining her PBS show, “Lidia’s Italy.” the military. Once a week, the olives are picked by hand. We stop at the “Covo dei Briganti,” where the BeltraThese olives are then taken back to town to be pressed in mis’ goats and sheep roam the countryside, eating the the old Rusticucci Palace, originally owned by a cardinal in grass, and living “completely in symbiosis with nature,” the 1500s, to create the final product, extra virgin olive oil. Cristiana explains. Vittorio hand-picks the sheep and Fast forward to 1980, when Vittorio Beltrami brought in goats, she says, to assure the best cheese. He travels all something else: formaggio di fossa; in English, “pit cheese.” over Italy to find the animals, brings them back to the This form of making cheese has its roots in the Marche. pasture, and names each one. Cristiana points to some According to Ashley Bartner, a food expert living in the of the goats nearby, reciting their names: Mansueto, region, in the 1400s farmers stashed their cheese in caves Bianchina, and Bella. Eric LeMay, professor at Ohio Unito hide it from raiding soldiers. After the soldiers left, the versity and author of the book Immortal Milk: Advenfarmers retrieved their hidden cheese only to find it not only tures in Cheese, describes Vittorio Beltrami as a man edible but delicious because of the constant temperature. who “has a true investment in the land, the animals, and It has a musty smell, a sharp taste, and a crumbly texture. co-workers, and he’s not afraid to stand up for tradition The Beltramis’ version of this cheese has been featured in and against those who would compromise it.” 32  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

Our next stop is the Rusticucci Palace, where Cristiana describes the process of making the formaggio di fossa. Each August, Vittorio puts the formaggio di fossa into cloth bags filled with herbs and stores it in a dark, cold cave beneath the Rusticucci Palace, leaving it to mature until November. After three months, the Beltramis unveil the buried cheese in an annual ceremony. Visitors come from all over Italy to see and taste the new cheese. Driving back to the store, Cristiana says, “For me, my family is very important and this was a choice of life.” The family uses the word “retroinnovazione” to sum up what they do. This term means remembering the past and never forgetting it. However, it also means using the principles of the past in the present and the future. “Our history is in the job that we do, we have roots; a culture. Here we run a real economy because we make the products from start to finish,” Cristiana says. Back at the store, Cristiana and Elide bring out a platter of two types of formaggio di fossa, white wine, and focaccia bread. One “fossa” is older and tastes strong.

The other, a young fossa, is fresh and light. The savory tastes of the cheese and foccacia fit perfectly with the sweet taste of the wine. Next Elide serves fresh yogurt with berry jam in a small cup. I savor every bite. Elide asks, “Ti piace?” “Do you like it?” “Si, buonissimo!” U Website extra: Read more about Cartoceto’s food offerings at Gastronomia Beltrami Via Umberto I, 21-23 61030 Cartoceto, Italy 0721 893 006 Open Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. Open Sunday and Monday by appointment only. 2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  33



Healing the racks Art restoration students save works damaged in a 2009 earthquake — and help heal communities at the same time Story by Sofia Lugo Photographs by Timothy Reuter

The smell of paint fills the quiet, wide room. This is the art restoration lab of the University of Urbino, where professor Michele Papi teaches. Religious paintings, taller than the people who walk past, recline against the walls with sculptures of saints standing close by. On the floor near each piece of art is a slip of paper that describes the work and says where it’s from: One slip says, “Castel del Monte. Mary shows the insignia of San Domenico.” Seated before some of the paintings are people wearing white overcoats who meticulously mix colors on a palette and delicately daub the artwork in front of them. Their eyes move only between the paintings and the palette, and not to the visitors nearby, as this is a skill that requires a great level of concentration. These are Papi’s students, completing the five years required for an art restoration degree. The lab where they work — three well-lighted rooms near the entrance to the Ducal Palace — is always open to the public to display the latest restoration project. For many of these students, the latest project is special. The art pieces they are working on were damaged by an April 6, 2009, earthquake that devastated the province of L’Aquila, located in the Abruzzo region just south of Le Marche. The paintings and sculptures aren’t all that significant artistically, but they have a different kind of value. “They have more of an emotional value than they have actual value because they belong to small commu34  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

An art restoration student works near the 17th-century painting The Massacre of the Innocents, which was damaged in a 2009 earthquake. University of Urbino professor Michele Papi (opposite) leads the art restoration lab.

nities, so they were more special that way,” says Daniele Costantini, a student who participated in the project. Lucia Arbace, superintendent of art history for the Abruzzo province, agrees. All are worth restoring, she says, because each piece comes from a different church, so each has something unique. “The ecclesiastical heritage is very diverse and heterogeneous,” she says.

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The L’Aquila earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.3, was the worst to strike Italy in more than three decades. More than 300 people died and more than 40,000 were left homeless. About 10,000 structures totally or partially collapsed; at least 400 of those were from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. By contrast, the series of earthquakes in May 2012 in the region

of Emilia-Romagna left an estimated 17 people dead. “I was really afraid for my family and for my friends,” says Stefania Paolini, another of Papi’s students, who was born in Castelvecchio Subequo, a village in the L’Aquila province. “One of my friends died.” The reaction to the earthquake was immediate. Within days, the University of Urbino offered its help to restore

Papi, his co-workers, and 70 students spent two years restoring 17 paintings and sculptures damaged in the L’Aquila earthquake. The artwork was returned to the villages it came from at the beginning of July 2012.

some of the damaged art. The Marche Regional Association of Municipalities financed the process, “adopting” one or two paintings from each of several affected villages. The total of chosen pieces came to 17 and included paintings and sculptures. Arbace says, “There was great interest in saving L’Aquila’s artistic heritage.” And now, after almost two years of work, Papi, his coworkers, and their 70 students have finished their task. “It is beautiful for L’Aquila,” Paolini says. Costantini and three other students restored one of the works damaged in the earthquake. It is from the town of Popoli, and it is a triptych by an unknown artist depicting Christ, the Madonna with Christ, and Joseph with Christ. Costantini says the steps for restoring a piece of art are always similar, but the process itself depends on the piece. For this painting, he started out by working on the back, the support of the painting. To fix fractures in the support, the restorers dug out the damage and filled the holes with small wooden triangles and sap-like glue. Next the restorers turned to the front of the painting. First, they cleaned it with organic solvents. Then, they filled blank spots with a mixture of glue and chalk. After smoothing these spots with sandpaper, the students restored the image with watercolors and paint. Finally, Costantini brushed a clear synthetic liquid over the surface to preserve the colors. Though these paintings are from many places and by many artists, Papi says he gives them all the same care. “All paintings are valuable, whether they come from Abruzzo or elsewhere,” he says, “because paintings are the historical memory of our country.” Papi has restored art for more than 25 years. He studied first at the Istituto Statale d’Arte in Urbino and later at the Accademia di Belle Arti, also in Urbino Though he specialized in chalcography (copper and zinc engraving), he says restoration is his passion. “One day in 1982 I met a restorer from Florence who was teaching restoration,” he says. “Ever since then I’ve never stopped doing it.” He sounds confident as he says that the Abruzzo paintings didn’t present any specific challenges. These paintings were damaged and needed restoration, which is something he and his team deal with all the time. “The real challenge is giving them back to the population,” he says, because of the emotional connection. He will face this challenge at the beginning of July, when, after almost two years of work, the team will return the pieces to Abruzzo. An exhibit of the restored works in L’Aquila will allow people to appreciate the art and the work that was done. Says Papi, “For them, seeing the paintings they love is a way to go back to go normality.” U Website extra: Michele Papi and his colleagues have restored many of Urbino’s art treasures. See the list at 2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  37


Paradise Lost the Palazzo Ducale. “Federico tried to create a perfect society and a perfect kind of art, also a perfect palace.” Sadly, this “perfect society” was short-lived. Everything Federico accomplished in his reign was lost soon after his death in 1482. Luckily for us, though, the palace still offers a window into Federico’s ideal city — granted, of course, you know who to ask to decipher the symbols. Take, for example, the palace piazza, the space that stretches between the palace and the duomo. “Anyone walking up to the palace at that time would have been impressed,” says Valazzi. In contrast to many fortresslike palaces of the time, she explains, the Ducal Palace appears to welcome people in. The wide, spacious piazza and its light and airy quality seemed to aid in the free flow of ideas. It was there in the piazza that the mathematical renaissance grew and thrived. The Palazzo Ducale, says Valazzi, was “a city in form of a palace.” At its height it was home to over 400 people including the architect Melozzo da Forli, the mathematician Luca Pacioli, and the artist Pedro Berruguete. Federico used his military wealth and success to attract and hire local artisans for his architectural projects, and he alleviated taxes on his subjects, all of which made him a well-loved ruler. Artists and thinkers flocked to Urbino to take part in the new cultural revolution initiated by Federico. If the palace is a city, Federico’s studiolo, or study, is the city’s heart. The study, located on the second floor of the palace, is filled with symbols and hidden meanings, say Valazzi and museum curator Alessandro Marchi, most of which refer to the ideals of Federico’s perfect society. Though only the size of today’s typical closet, the deep and warm colors of the intricately inlaid wood

Timothy Reuter

The palace doesn’t seem that big from the courtyard. It is only when I go underground to the cavernous kitchens and storerooms, where the air gets at least 10 degrees cooler, and when I walk up the wide, grand staircases that I truly understand this palace is enormous. Just when I think there can’t be any more hallways, there is always another around the corner, filled with golden Byzantine altarpieces or collections of delicately painted ceramics. The typical boulder-anddungeon atmosphere of a 15th-century castle is absent in Urbino’s Palazzo Ducale. It is surprisingly light. Stone corridors are lined with unexpected windows, allowing light to pour in. I peer out every window to find different courtyards; some filled with green shrubbery and blooming flowers while others are simply paved with stone. These now-barren courtyards once bustled with people. Federico da Montefeltro, soldier, scholar, and the duke of these lands from 1444 to 1482, initiated the flow of great minds to Urbino. The mathematician-artist Leon Battista Alberti, who brought back the ideals of classical architecture, and Piero della Francesca, who was a pioneer in the usage of perspective, were some of the notable individuals in the city. Urbino became the home of a movement now known as the mathematical renaissance, which was born out of the marriage between the arts and sciences. For Federico, this was the perfect society. It was a society where people of different disciplines shared ideas and lived in harmony, a society unique for its time. “While the city of Florence had mathematicians and artists, they didn’t live together as they did in Urbino,” says Maria Rosaria Valazzi, director of the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, which is housed in

38  Urbino Now

A glimpse of Federico’s ideal city by Erica Demson

The harmonious proportions of the Ducal Palace’s Honor Court, above, reflect Federico da Montefeltro’s interest in the marriage of art and science. Opposite: The inlaid-wood panels of the duke’s studiolo are filled with symbols; the squirrel represents the duke’s tendency to collect ideas from many sources.

2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  39

Deserted City: The city has no people. Thus, it becomes “perfect” by lacking “imperfect” man.

Precision: If you get close enough to the painting, you can see the mark left by the protractor the artist used to measure out the exact proportions of the image.

Temple: The temple in the center of the painting takes a circular form, symbolizing the eternalness of God.

Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali. Soprintendenza per i Beni Storici, Artistici ed Etnoantropologici delle Marche-Urbino.

panels make this room one of the most memorable of the palace. The top halves of the walls are lined with portraits of men. These men were people of the duke’s past and his present, including the poet Homer, philosophers Plato and Aristotle, and religious figures Solomon and Moses, all looming over Federico as if to send down inspiration as he worked. Just below the portraits begins the woodwork. A hodgepodge of books and sheet music appear to be stacked on shelves while a knight’s armor and spear seem to be strewn on benches. The intarsia technique, or inlaid wood, allows panels to take on perspective and depth, an impressive feat during that time. The four walls are lined with tricks and illusions of trompe l’oeil that make your eyes believe that the objects face you no matter where you stand in the room. On one wall a lute appears to lie next to a spear. The placement is not accidental, says Valazzi. The instrument represents the perfection of music, the unflawed relationship 40  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

between math and sound. It was this harmonious blending of disciplines that Federico so admired. But the military weapon has its purpose too. It symbolizes the idea that a perfect society has many elements, including a strong military force. Scientific instruments such as a compass and an hourglass also find their homes among the trompe l’oeil shelves, reminding the viewer that it takes the balance and accord of many subjects to achieve an ideal society. One of the most distinctive features of the studiolo, says Marchi, is the small squirrel settled on a receding stone background framed by Grecian columns and arches. Marchi explains that just as a squirrel takes acorns and saves them for the winter, Federico would take many ideas and readings and save them. “It is a symbol of how you take culture and store it, and then later in life it will become valuable to you,” says Marchi. Federico’s wide range of interests helped create a rare kind of utopia where harmony and justice were the center: Urbino. Federico’s ideals lasted only as long as the reign of his

Open door: The door of the temple remains open, symbolizing the hope that man can one day reach perfection.

Harmony: The balance and proportion of the shapes and spaces in the painting were inspiration to have harmony in reality.

son Guidobaldo, then disappeared. By the late 15th century, after Guidobaldo and his wife Elisabetta had passed away, the architects and philosophers had fled the city, leaving it in a standstill. The changing worldviews at the end of the 15th century overtook what Federico had created and no more attempts were made to recreate his utopia. Valazzi, however, has a hope for what people might take away when they visit modern Urbino, a hope Federico himself might have approved of: “That the world can be harmonious. That the world can find an idea of justice and harmony.” U Palazzo Ducale Piazza Rinascimento, 13 61029 Urbino, Italy

Socialization: As in Renaissance Urbino, the open piazza was a place where people could gather to share thoughts and ideas.

Signs of a Renaissance During the summer of 2012, the painting above, called La Città Ideale (The Ideal City), was the centerpiece of an exhibit at the Palazzo Ducale about the arts and sciences that blossomed during Federico’s reign. In addition to the enigmatic painting — its artist, date, and commissioner are unknown — the exhibit included some 80 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and manuscripts by Piero della Francesca, Donato Bramante, and other members of Federico’s court. Luckily for modernday visitors, La Città Ideale is a permanent resident of the Ducal Palace, allowing ample opportunity to scrutinize the work for the signs of Urbino’s “mathematical Renaissance.” – Erica Demson

Open Monday 8:30 a.m. – 2p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday 8:30 a.m. –7:15 p.m. 2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  41


La Diva Della Via Story and styling by Azia Toussaint

Photographs by Allison Butler

On Thursday nights in Urbino, the Piazza della Repubblica is the place to be. Students party at the square’s disco, “La Dolce Vita,” and at its bars, spilling out into the piazza itself. Mara Dell’Erario, a fashion design student at the University of Urbino joined the late-night action in a fluorescentgreen, A-line dress. A-line dresses are seen a lot in the piazza, but Mara’s choice of color made her stand out. You can buy this dress at Cilli’s booth at the Saturday market for only 25 euros.

42  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

Want to

look like an Urbinata? Try shopping at the Saturday market.

2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  43

intage, unique, one-of-a-kind clothing. And you can only get it here!” pared to American fashion, their style was conservative. His salt-and-pepper hair goes well with his wrinkly Turning to my left, I noticed a pale man with dreadlocks face, and he wears a striped sun-kissed shirt with shorts wearing an oversized graphic T-shirt, loose fitting jeans to match. Captain of a clothes booth at Urbino’s Saturday shorts, and black sneakers. A dog walked by his side, leashmarket, he uses his words as bait to reel customers in; I less. To my right was a middle-aged woman wearing a dress am one of them. of colorful patterns complemented by a bright floral scarf “Ciao bella. What do you need?” and three-inch heels. But by the piazza’s fountain, which was “I’m shopping for clothes to look like I fit in here.” directly in front of me, there was a group of young women all I tell him about the floral patterns and lace tops that dressed differently. One had on pants in a floral print, another a local friend recommends, and the comfortable harem had on a tank top covered by a lace shirt, and the others pants that everyone here seems to wear. He responds wore what looked like genie’s pants, with a dramatically by tossing a white beaded blouse straight at my chest. lower crotch. They all managed to dress comfortably Matching pants, floral dresses, and sequined tops follow. and still look stylish. My job at the market is done; my Intrigued by the town’s fashions, I With vendor Cilli’s help, writer journey is complete. decided to quiz my new Italian friends Azia Toussaint outfits herself about their tastes. One of the very at the Saturday market. My journey began when I important “do’s” came first set foot in the Piazza from Luca Ambrogiani, a della Repubblica, Urbino’s student who says he loves main square. Everything women: “Be comfortable about the location was and be yourself, confidence right: The sun was setting is key. Urbino is a blend of and I could taste the beer Italians from all over Italy and pastries in the air. But so there is not just one parsomething was wrong. ticular style of fashion. Just Wearing boyfriend jeans have fun.” One of the most and a lime-green crop top, important “don’ts” came I looked completely Amerfrom Helen Sorchiotti, a ican. No wonder people student and a six-inch-heel stared. Everyone around me walker herself: “If you was covered up, and, comare not a pro in heels do 44  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

not pack them. The cobblestone does not Want a great view tie-dye dress with an embroidered neckline, a permit, unless you’re really good.” They of Urbino? Check out white sheer top and scarf, a gold pencil skirt, also told me things like strappy sandals the vista from the and a plain black top. Suddenly other shoppers Fortezza dell’Albornoz are a must-have. Serena Alessi pointed out the near the Raffaello begin to flock to my pile. “Grazie!” I say, gathslashed T-shirts with tank tops beneath. Silvia statue. Mara enjoys ering the clothes together to protect them from Verducci said this year all the young women the Fortezza in a pair the other women. are buying any type of clothing with a flag on of dark jeans and a At the cash register, Tommaso introduces it. Mara Dell’Erario told me her favorite shop white sheer shirt. me to his son, Cilli. Cilli explains that he Mara’s shirt is embroiis the Piazza Srl at 71 Via Giuseppe Mazzini. dered with flowers took the business over from his father 20 I was finally ready to shop. years ago, selling mostly vintage clothing. As along the neck line This morning, Saturday, I got up at half and is complemented he hands back my change he says, “Vintage past 8, eager to start my shopping mission. with an everyday was a luxury thing twenty years ago because With only 50 euros, I set off to find unique, scarf — a fashion you could not find it in the stores or in the necessity here in stylish, native Urbino clothing at the Sat­ central streets of Milan and Rome, and for Urbino. You can buy urday market. As I reached the top of the the shirt and scarf this reason it was very expensive at that time. hill on Via Raffaello, a whiff of peaches, at the market for Vintage was something really unique.” With roses, and beef snaked under my nose. I 5 euros. the economic crisis, he says, second-hand had arrived! clothing has become a necessity and, now, Walking slowly, I made sure to look at everything. the majority of his sales are second-hand. To my right, a man negotiated prices on underwear; He puts my new clothes into a bag and hands it to me. to my left a young girl examined a pink dress for flaws; “Enjoy,” he says in English. an elderly woman directly in front of me sniffed a cantaBut I’m not ready to leave yet. loupe to make sure she had picked a ripe one. “Can I use your dressing room?” I began to shop from vendor to vendor until I began He nods his head, and I rush to put on the gold pencil to hear a loud cocky voice. I pictured a man who was six skirt and black tank top I just bought. I step out of the feet tall, mid-thirties, and muscular. I followed the voice dressing room and into the crowd. until it was in my face. That’s when I saw the captain No one stares at me like I’m an American. with salt-and-pepper hair. Urbino’s street market A blouse lands on my head. “Mi chiamo Tommaso,” says Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the captain — “my name is Tommaso.” He tosses over a red Intersection of Via Raffaello and Viale B. Buozzi 2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  45

Going on a day date? Italian men love long legs! Choose a mini-dress to accentuate that attribute. Mara waits for her date outside her door wearing a paisleypatterned mini-dress and colored sheer leggings. She paired the outfit with neutral flats. At Urbino’s Saturday market, you’ll pay 10 euros each for the dress and the leggings.

46  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

▲ With so many stairs

to climb in Urbino, comfortable clothing is a must — like these floral leggings paired with a plain tank top and a lace jacket. It’s a fun and playful look. Now that you can move with ease you’re ready to climb to the top of those stairs. This set costs 15 euros at the Saturday market.

▲ The locals love harem pants. Serena Alessi, one of my fashion experts, gets hers at the Saturday market for 10 to 15 euros. Add a crop top and sandals, you’ll look as good as Mara, above. “In style and comfy,” says Mara.  Away from the busy piazza, Urbino’s night skies are dark and starry, perfect for a romantic stroll on the small roads that circle the town. Try this subtle but flirty approach: A dark brown tank shows Mara’s bare arms, and the short lace skirt allows her to tease with just enough skin. You’ll like the results. At the Saturday market, the skirt costs 10 euros and the top costs 5.


2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  47

ESCURSIONE The first thing I see when I walk into Tonti Agostina’s Urbino house is a cobalt blue mushroom as large as a flattened bowling ball. Until Tonti’s discovery, Ganoderma had gone unseen in the Le Marche region for 50 years. It is only one of many rare fungi that this award-winning mushroom hunter has encountered. The stairwell of her house, formerly owned by the Duke and Duchess of Ubaldini, is crowded with baskets of fresh and dried fungi. Tall bookshelves stand against the wall of the grand dining room where books about mushrooms are neatly stored and ready to study. Tonti always has something to show and talk about with her guests. “Do you have a boyfriend?” she asks on my first visit. “No,” I answer. “I am single.” A huge grin emerges on her face as she grabs a photograph of a young man. “My nephew Alessandro is single and very goodlooking. He’s an intelligent twenty-one-year-old studying Spanish and English, with curly blonde hair and blue eyes.” Following a coy wink and a slightly hysterical, yet contagious, laugh, Tonti insists that her Italian nephew must be married off to an American journalist one day. Tonti is sitting beside me, a delicate, floral-patterned tablecloth in front of her. My guess is she is in her early seventies. She appears to be in good health, thanks, no doubt, to her active life outdoors. Her long, black hair is secured in a tight ponytail. Her olive skin glistens in the summer heat. A centerpiece of tall sunflowers stands in the corner of the room. Caged birds of red and orange hues cheerfully sing in the window. Framed original paintings by Salvador Dali hang on the walls; a mural depicting a regal Italian King covers the ceiling. Lying on the table are photographs of Tonti holding polished gold trophies throughout her years of mushroom hunting. I ad­ mire one that shows her next to the mayor of Urbania with yet another tro-


Story by Stephanie Strickland Illustrations by Olivia Wise

“Being in nature is more useful than going to church,” Tonti Agostina says while grabbing a porcini mushroom. “You realize who is God and what he has created.”

 ushroom Madonna

48  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

phy; she is wearing a pearl necklace. A basket of various mushrooms also sits on the table. Tonti reaches over, then drops something resembling a small pancake into my hand. It feels smooth on the top and rigid on the bottom. “Do you know what kind of mushroom this is?” To identify the object and to label it as edible or not, she opens what looks like a sacred book. I imagine it contains all the details an advanced mushroom lover would want to know. She points to the exact mushroom in hand, and, continuing in her teacher-to-student manner, explains: “The Mazza di tamburo: it looks like large drums with its tall stem and flat top.” Tonti throws her arms in the air, like a musician waving drumsticks in the air. “You might see some on the hunt around this time. Put them in water for a day to grow. It’s beautiful to see and eat.”

50  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

At age eighteen, Tonti, a former seamstress, moved from Cattolica to Urbino to marry into a wealthy family. She and her husband, Alessandro, raised two children, now middle-aged, and have been together for 53 years. With the help of a licensed expert, Tonti started mushroom hunting about 15 years ago to conquer her fear of the dark woods. After learning the basic ins and outs of the hunt, she became passionate about trekking through the high mountain tops and developed a motivation to be a champion — a mushroom hunting maven. “I love mushroom hunting because I can be one with nature,” she says. “When I am exploring the nature around me I can think about my family and God, if there is one.” Instead of selling mushrooms for profit, Tonti shares what she finds. “I don’t ask for money; it’s not important to me. In life, you must give people the chance to know you. You can be the richest or best person in

the world, but if you don’t communicate with the people around you, you are nothing. I like to be open with people and allow them to be part of my life.” Three days after meeting Tonti, I find myself very much part of her life — in her Panda Fiat as it races toward Monte Catria in the center of the Apennine Mountains. Eager to get me on my first mushroom hunting excursion, Tonti turns sharply along the winding roads, her foot pressed heavily against the gas pedal. For a brief moment, her eyes leave the road and lock with mine in the midst of an account of her husband collecting 58 mushrooms during one outing. She accidentally swerves into the other lane, almost colliding

with an oncoming Fiat, whose driver curses furiously in Italian. Gripping the wheel and leaning forward, Tonti laughs, honks her horn back at him, and continues to drive along fearlessly. We arrive to the top of Monte Catria and walk to a desolate yet breathtaking field. Looking up, I see what appear to be hills on top of hills stretching endlessly toward the clear blue sky. I have a Julie Andrews moment, imagining myself singing, “The hills are alive…” as I run through the violet orchids and yellow alpine flowers. But my fantasy is interrupted when I realize that Tonti is already on the hunt, and I’m forced to chase after her. I assume we’ll find an abundance of mushrooms, given the rain we’ve had; as Tonti explained earlier, it is best to go hunting four to five days after it rains. But as she weaves through grass almost tall enough to reach her knees, Tonti is having difficulty spotting anything, despite her deep concentration. Not one to let Mother Nature get in the way,

she leaves the high grass, climbs up a steep meadow, and spots a cluster of small mushrooms in the ground. She bolts for the scene, gleefully shouting, “Funghi! Funghi!” They are flat, beige, furry… but, as Tonti explains, not edible. She cuts off a few to put in her basket anyway. With the help of a certified mushroom hunting expert (to check for poisonous fungi), Tonti believes that anyone can safely partake in the hunt. “Although autumn is the best time to mushroom hunt,” she says, “you can still find plentiful fungi in the summer such as Russole, Gallinaccio, and Porcini.” Summer festivals are held in the town of Acqualagna, where porcini mushrooms and beloved white truffles are available for purchase. The two differ based on where they grow; truffles are more rare as they sprout underground, while mushrooms grow above ground.

Whatever the results of the hunt, Tonti says each encounter with nature leaves her with an indescribable, spiritual feeling. “It’s a whole other world where I feel like I am the middleman between God and nature. Picking the fruits of God shows me what he has created.” She smiles and places the basket of inedible mushrooms in her trunk. They will be helpful in teaching mushroom basics to her next student. Tonti starts the drive back down Monte Catria, leaving behind her heaven on Earth, at least until the next hunt. U Website extra: Arrange a mushroom excursion for yourself at

2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  51


APecChio: Where Beer Maketh Glad the Heart of Man Story and photographs by Milana Katic

52  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

Stepping into the main dining room of the agriturismo Il Guiso was almost like diving into a glass of beer, the amber hue of the room matching the tones of the frothy liquid. Filippo Isotti greeted me with a smile, a handshake, and a bottle of Riserva Speciale, toned with that same golden glow. This particular brew is a local craft beer — a perfect start for the unique meal we were about to experience. Isotti, the owner and sometimes cook at Il Guiso, is a kind of mad scientist in the field of “alogastronomy,” the modern art of pairing food with carefully chosen Italian craft beers. Replacing the “wine” in “wine and dine” with a tall, cool one? A different kind of beverage trend has emerged in Italy in the past 10 years. The same people who made liquid art out of grapes and coffee beans are now perfecting the art of brewing craft beer. Just an hour’s drive southwest of Urbino, in the Montefeltro area of the Le Marche region, lies the town of Apecchio, or “Città della Birra” as the locals say: City of Beer. It is a place where beer is regarded with the same sophistication and appreciation as fine champagne and

caviar. Nestled in the foothills of the Appenines, Apecchio is surrounded by natural marvels of mountains and forests, including Mt. Nerone, source of the invaluable spring water used in the beers that the town promotes. The Città della Birra is aptly nicknamed for hosting two of Italy’s most well-known craft breweries. On one side of Apecchio is Collesi, a quaint, family-owned brewery, which is home to the Imper Ale line, a collection that just received a gold medal in the 2012 “New York International Beer Competition” for the second year in a row. On the opposite side is Amarcord, named after the Oscar-winning Fellini classic, a craft brewery known for a line representing the four female leads of the film (La Gradisca, La Midòna, La Volpina and La Tabachéra) and for Riserva Speciale, its “champagne of beers.” Back at the hillside niche of Il Guiso, Isotti had his own poetic perspective on Riserva Speciale. “It is a beer that cannot be included in a range,” he said, while pouring the peach-colored liquid into over-sized wine glasses. “It escapes definition.” Isotti pairs Riserva especially with the first course of his standard “beer menu” because the sweetness of the beer perfectly offsets the saltiness of Filippo Isotti (left), mad scientist of the the prosciutto crudo, ciacnew art of alogascia (a special type of focaccia tronomy, swears by from the Montefeltro area), the pairing of cheese and assorted pecorino cheeses and beer, not wine, served with beer marmalade. as the modern Italian Before delving into the first sophisticate’s delight. At his agriturismo, Il course feast, I raised the glass Guiso, visitors can of Riserva Speciale to my partake of a fourlips, sensing the bouquet of course alogastrosour cherries and honey that nomic menu. Each characterize the brew. I took course is paired with, and prepared with, a a sip — a regal introduction to different Amarcord the all-Amarcord lunch that beer. Such activities awaited us. have earned Apecchio Following the overture the nickname, Città of sweet and salty antipasti della Birra. came a symphony of dishes. These not only were paired with various beers from Amarcord’s AMA line but also included the beers as ingredients. This was a show that posed a new threat to cooking with wine. First was creamy risotto with local truffles and herbs, made with the AMA Bionda that sat beside it; brewed with orange honey, the light, citrusy Bionda balanced the heaviness of the risotto. Next came pork roast with ratatouille vegetables straight from Isotti’s garden; AMA Bruna, with its dark, bitter accents, was used to tenderize and enhance the meat while complementing the ratatouille nicely. Marking the end of the meal was the Sicilian dessert zabaione, a custard usually made with Marsala wine, but in this case tasting of AMA Mora, the coffee-infused dark ale that sat alongside it. The experience made American tailgating with hot dogs and Bud Light seem like sacrilege. “We call it beer, but these new beers are excellent

beers. They can’t be called like the beers before them.” Isotti spoke while enjoying a post-plate performance cigarette over a glass of AMA Bruna and hunks of grana padano, a soft parmesan-like cheese. I found myself wondering if wine and cheese were ever really complements. That is the Apecchio effect: leaving the Italian reality of fine wine and entering a world where beer reigns supreme as the drink of the sophisticate. In fact, a whole association was formulated around this idea a year ago, to promote Apecchio and the Italian craft beer revolution and to relay the significance of alogastronomy to any passer-by through tours, tastings, and restaurant recommendations. The group even coined the term “alogastronomia” from the familiar “enogastronomia,” the art of pairing food with wine; they used the prefix “alo” from ale to define the sophistication of the

craft beer. To them, this beer-and-food thing is a serious matter. In the dim orange glow of the association’s headquarters, Massimo Cardellini, the association president, recently summed up the idea. “We’re not aiming for Oktoberfest,” Cardellini told me as he swirled a glass of the award-winning Collesi Imper Ale Tripolo Malto. “We want to create a culture.” U Website extra: Your daytrip to Apecchio: an alogastronomic lunch, and lots more at Il Guiso (La Locanda del Guiso) 61042 Apecchio, Italy 366 539 3199 Associazione Apecchio Città della Birra 2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  53


Brightly colored cabanas line the Pesaro-Fano bike trail.

54  Urbino Now 2012 – 2013

Sea by Cycle Story and photo by Pachia Lee Visitors to Italy typically think art, wine, cheese, and, of course, pizza. Few imagine cycling alongside a sandy beach. But if you’re based in Urbino and want to explore a different side of Le Marche, take a daytrip to Pesaro — from which you can set out on a bike trail offering stunning views of the Adriatic Sea. If you’re not already traveling with a bike, you have two options. I found a few commercial rental outlets near the beach, but riding their tattered bikes would not have been fun or comfortable. Instead, use the city of Pesaro’s bike-sharing program, “C’entro in Bici.” Visit the “Sportella Informa & Servizi” office behind Piazza del Popolo to pay your 10 euros and fill out a form; make sure you have an identification card or passport. You’ll get a key that allows you to unlock one of the program’s orange bikes at any of six locations throughout town. These bikes have no extra gears and are not the smoothest riding, but they will get you through a few hours along the beach. I began my excursion at the Palla di Arnaldo Pomodoro, a shiny spherical landmark in the center of Piazzale della Libertà. I took a moment to appreciate the calm blue Adriatic Sea and the clear sky filled with frolicking birds. Then I inhaled the fresh aroma of the ocean and began to pedal. As I rode away from Pesaro in the direction of Fano, the large seaside city at the other end of this eight-mile trail, I passed pastel-colored hotels and restaurants as well as neat rows of yellow and green umbrellas. Farther along, the scene was less crowded, though there were still plenty of

beach-crazed people. White sailboats moved slowly along the horizon. The large hotels and restaurants were now replaced by compact beachfront bars, each with a unique logo and color combination. You can take a break from riding at any of these bars. Just secure your bike along a trailside wall or fence. The bars have their own seating and eating areas, with background music ranging from American rock (I heard Lady Gaga and Katy Perry) and jazzy love songs (Frank Sinatra) to Italian pop. After a snack, you can rent an umbrella and chair on the beach — and it’s off to swimming you go. I stopped for a cool drink at Bagni Due Palme. The bar sits on a balcony overlooking the bike path, giving great views of the beach and sea. Stretching alongside the trail were shower houses of vibrant red, blue, yellow, pink, and green. Tanned, young, muscled men were playing two-ontwo volleyball. Teenagers played cards and ate pizza. Laughter and conversation came from all directions. Once back on the bike path, I heard “Ding, ding, ding!” From behind me, three middle-aged men zoomed by. “Scusi, scusi,” I screamed. Thinking this was my chance to meet some fellow cyclists, I quickly added, “Ciao! Do you guys speak English?” “So-so,” replied one of the three, as they pulled over to the side to talk. I learned from one of them, Delfino Lugiano, that they are all firemen and that they ride the entire trail from Pesaro to Fano three times a week to stay fit. “We like to bike this trail because it connects the cities,” fireman Lugiano

added, “and it is a point of conjunction for people.” I was soon back on the bike, hoping to find “Camping Norina,” a private area farther along the trail. I had heard that Norina was a place where families and friends can stay for a few days in rented bungalows. But somehow I had come to a dead end. I stopped and looked at my map, flabbergasted. “Do you need help?” asked a fellow rider, only a few footsteps away. “Uh, yes, please, I’m lost,” I said, feeling a little ridiculous. “Would you know how to get to Fano from here?” (The main trail was supposed to go straight to Fano; I had no idea how I had gotten thrown off.) “Yes, you have missed the turn,” said this helpful man in a strong Italian accent. “Follow me and I will show you the way.” He led me under a bridge and onto a straight-away. Then Pesaro native Stefano Terenzi and I exchanged contact information — just in case I got lost again. Finally, I saw the words “Camping Norina” on the side of a bungalow. I stopped to catch my breath, take a sip of water, and gaze into the distance. The bungalows were lined up like dominos along the quiet beach. The bike trial beyond seemed never-ending. But it was time for me to return to Pesaro, and then back to Urbino. Next time I cycle this trail, I thought, maybe I’ll reach the pebbly beaches of Fano. Maybe you will too. U C’Entro in Bici Sportello Informa & Servizi Largo Mamiani, 11 Pesaro, Italy 2012 – 2013 URBINO NOW  55


THE BUSINESS OF BEES Roberto Podgornik of La Fattoria dei Cantori keeps his bees deep in the hills around Urbino, far from possible pollution, including pesticides used by other farmers. He has been a beekeeper at La Fattoria for 26 years, during which he has learned much from the bees. He said, “They are very perfect in their life.” Photos by Emily Harmon. (Full story online at

Study Media Abroad Summer 2013

Don’t just see the world…cover it! Study in Italy, France, Turkey, Israel, or Northern Ireland with Institute for Education in International Media Urbino, Italy June 6 – July 4 Multimedia journalism Magazine journalism Perpignan, France June 27– July 25 iPad magazine

Istanbul, Turkey June 20 – July 18 International reporting Post-graduate foreign correspondent internships Jerusalem, Israel Dates TBD International reporting Armagh, Northern Ireland June 27– July 28 Multimedia journalism Creative writing /playwriting

Students study international report­ ing, media skills, and languages, and publish work about their host communities online or in print. IeiMedia programs help students develop professional skills and build their resumes, giving them a competitive edge as they launch their careers. All for-credit programs are $4,995. Some programs available without credit for $4,295. Includes housing and some meals, but not airfare. View past student projects and apply online at

Urbino Now 2012-2013  

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

Urbino Now 2012-2013  

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