The Englishwoman goes to a private view/La vernice di Eugenio Morganti

Eugenio Morganti - the artist at work/l'artista a lavoro.

Eugenio Morganti – the artist at work/l’artista a lavoro.

We were intrigued by this postcard and, as Corinaldo’s unofficial blogger, I decided to attend the private view, or rather opening – anyone could come. We arrived somewhat later than the advertised start time and waited. People drifted into the Terreno, the piazza at the top of town, and hung around chatting until the Palazzo Cesarini Romaldi should open its doors. In the photo below you can see: – Matteo Principi, the Mayor, Giorgia Fabbri, the portfolio-holder for culture (somewhat obscured, wearing beige trousers and talking to Professor Fabio Ciceroni in the pale blue jacket) and Giacomo Anibaldi (in green trousers on the left), member of the comune’s council.

Waiting in the Terreno for Morganti's private view to open.

Waiting in the Terreno for Morganti’s private view to open. Note the Mayor standing next to the table./Si aspetta l’apertura della vernice di Morganti, col sindaco Matteo Principi, l’assessore alla cultura Giorgia Fabbri e Giacomo Anibaldi.

When finally the doors opened, the event began with four speeches, from: – the Mayor, Professor Fabio Ciceroni, who is a distinguished local man of letters, the artist, and Giorgia Fabbri. We listened, but a lot of people, undeterred, just started wandering round and looking at the p-p-pictures, like Anthony Blanche at Charles Ryder’s show in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. The good professor drew some wry smiles when in his speech he questioned the use of the word “evento” (event); some of us wondered what other word could be used to describe this … er … event. From the speeches we learned that Morganti is a local man; he lives in Cingoli but has childhood links with Corinaldo.

The speakers/Sono intervenuti: From left/Da sinistra: Prof Ciceroni, Eugenio Morganti, Matteo Principi, Giorgia Fabbri. Grazie al Comune di Corinaldo.

The speakers/Sono intervenuti: From left/Da sinistra: Prof Ciceroni, Eugenio Morganti, Matteo Principi, Giorgia Fabbri. Grazie al Comune di Corinaldo.


The opening speeches.

The professor speaks./ Il professore interviene.

After the speeches and before actually looking at the pictures, we refreshed ourselves with a glass of wine and some excellent  stuzzichini (nibbles) from the table in the Terreno.

Enjoying the refreshments./ Ci rinfreschiamo.

Enjoying the refreshments./ Ci rinfreschiamo.

And now for the works of art. The artist is on the left expounding his work to a viewer. I was impressed by the way he made himself available to discuss his work.

Looking at the pictures/Guardando le opere.

Looking at the pictures/Guardando le opere.

In the picture you can see the fine vaulted ceiling. The Palazzo Romaldi stood abandoned and derelict for years, until it was bought and refurbished by a benefactor, Ingegnere (Engineer) Grimaldi. I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that although not local, he just couldn’t bear to see the state the place was in, so he bought it and restored it structurally and externally with his own money. Usually it is empty, but the ground floor has been used for small art exhibitions. Its unfinished aspect meant that it was particularly appealing to Morganti as a place to exhibit, as he told us in his speech.

Part of the installation below is the plaster cast Morganti was working on in the exhibition postcard.

Senza capire perché/Without knowing why.

Senza capire perché/Without knowing why.


We liked Morganti’s use of photography in this work.

On the right/ a destra: Reflection self-portraits/ Autoritratti di reflessione

On the right/ a destra: Autoritratti di reflessione/Reflection self-portraits.

It represents his feelings about his relationship with his son, the most important of the good things he has achieved over the years.

I found Morganti’s work quite difficult to understand, especially his own and others’ commentaries are in quite abstract Italian. Do have a look at his Facebook page, and comment here if you have any insights.

Posted in 21st century Art, Borghi dell'entroterra, Corinaldo | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Englishwoman at the launch of the Enoteca de Scuretto

Sara and Elisa, the admirable owners of the Osteria de Scuretto, had decided to complement their Osteria with a wine-shop, or enoteca, selling local good quality wines and other specialities – limoncino (like limoncello), pasta, olive oil and more. They therefore issued a general invitation to the opening.

We arrived promptly, but the event took a bit of time to get going. The rows of glasses were a good sign, though!

Everything ready for the opening - but where are the people?

Everything ready for the opening – but where are the people?

Gradually people began to drift along – family, friends, customers and neighbours. We noticed the lady from the post office/tobacconist opposite the Caffè del Corso, the laundress and the local dressmaker, Giulietta, our caretaker’s daughter. She works all hours and every year makes at least some of the mediaeval costumes for the annual Pozzo della Polenta rievocazione or pageant.

Also there, and indispensable, was the Mayor, who made the speech and cut the ribbon. In his speech he referred to his vision of turismo di qualità, of which the Osteria and Enoteca are examples, as this tourist can testify. I believe in quality tourism too, but I’m particularly keen on the nitty-gritty and down-to-earth which underpins it, such as loo-roll and opening hours.

It took some time to get the tricolore ribbon organised. On the right in the dark polo shirt is Giacomo Anibaldi Ranco, a member of the consiglio comunale or local council.

Briefing the Mayor.

Briefing the Mayor.

That’s Sara, one of the owners, between the Mayor and Giacomo.

Testing the ribbon.

Testing the ribbon.

Sara hands the scissors to the mayor.

Sara hands the scissors to the mayor.

You’ll just have to trust me here.

The big moment! - seen from behind.

The big moment! – seen from behind.


Mayor with the ribbon after cutting it.

Mayor with the ribbon after cutting it.

The ribbon was then cut into small pieces and distributed. I made sure I got a bit.

Piece of ribbon from the opening of the Enoteca

Piece of ribbon from the opening of the Enoteca

Sara and Elisa generously served everyone with delicious Bianchello del Metauro, a Marchigiano wine from the River Metauro to the north of Corinaldo in the province of Pesaro-Urbino.

We were now free to look around the shop, admire the high-quality fittings, the work of a local craftsman, and study the wares.

Wines at Enoteca de Scuretto.

Wines at Enoteca de Scuretto.

We bought a bottle of limoncino, which is usually served very cold at the end of the meal. We put the bottle in the freezer compartment for a short time – trying not to forget it! – and chill the glasses too. Every drink brings back happy memories of the Enoteca de Scuretto, which I’ve enjoyed sharing with you, although without a drink!

Posted in Borghi dell'entroterra, Corinaldo, Food and drink, Hill towns | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Young Italians abandon la dolce vita to move to Britain – Telegraph

Young Italians abandon la dolce vita to move to Britain – Telegraph.

Ecco perchè occorre attirare più turisti alla Regione Marche, e quindi, non solo leggere, ma realizzare, i suggerimenti nel mio brano Addio turismo, buongiorno accoglienza.

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The Englishwoman buys lunch and swims in Corinaldo

Come and join us as we shop, relax and swim in Corinaldo.

Corinaldo Porta di Sotto, one of the town's main gates Le Marche Italy

Corinaldo Porta di Sotto, one of the town’s main gates

We usually go shopping for lunch and supper first before it gets too hot. That means you need to get into town at about 11.30 to give yourself time to go round all the shops before they shut.

What are we going to eat today? Well, we usually have a cold lunch, consisting of local foods: cured meat, cheese, salad and fruit, accompanied by the local wine and followed by coffee roasted in our province of Ancona.

Recommended by our caretaker's wife.

Recommended by our caretaker’s wife.

For supper let’s say that this evening we are going to have fresh pasta with salad followed by fruit.

First stop the fresh pasta shop in Via Cimarelli- you have to buy fresh pasta the same day as you eat it.

Fresh pasta shop exterior

You need to arrive in good time while there is still a good choice left.

Fresh pasta on display

Fresh pasta on display

Be careful when buying fresh pasta – as it expands a lot when you cook it, it’s not easy to judge how much you want. If, like us, you eat it as a main dish, you need to buy about twice as much as the shopkeeper recommends or explain that you are buying it as a “piatto principale”.

The fruttivendolo or greengrocer is in the same street as the pastificio. It is run by a charming and energetic young woman, helped by her mother. There used to be two ladies but one of them had to give up, because it was too much for her with her little boy. She sells local wine and cooked vegetable dishes – very good, we’ve tried them – as well as raw fruit and veg. Some of her suppliers are from the local area and she always takes trouble to choose produce that will be just what you want.

NB If you didn’t know already, choose a melon the way my mother taught me – by sniffing it. If it smells ripe, it is ripe. If it doesn’t smell at all, you need to ripen it. As for tomatoes, the Italians tend to buy them ripe for cooking and greenish for salad. I like my tomato salad very ripe, so I just ask for my tomatoes good and ripe (ben maturi). Although I like to buy local produce, Vesuvian tomatoes are the best, as you may already know, so if they are in stock I buy them. If you are thinking of doing a caprese, mozzarella and tomato salad, buy small ciliegini (cherry) tomatoes and use only mozzarella di bufala (buffalo), not local either and you’ll sometimes have to get it the supermarket, but never mind. Just get used to the guilt – I have.

About now it’s time for a break at a local caffè-bar. Follow the link for our favourite watering holes, the Caffè del Corso (they were serving lunch on Ferragosto, the big national holiday when everything closes), the Chiosco and the Osteria de Scuretto.

Osteria de Scuretto

Osteria de Scuretto

I am pleased to say that the courtyard of the Hotel Giglio, ex-Augustinian convent and part of the new Albergo Diffuso, is open again as a caffè-bar.

Il Giglio caffe

Because of its pleasing proportions, like the courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, it is restful just to be there. But avoid the prosecco, which is better and cheaper elsewhere, and I would  recommend them to serve local produce, not crêpes.

Now it’s time to buy the cured meats. We like two shops; one is the Corinaldo Market, (open till 1.30 pm) now under new management but the food is still good and you get the same service. They also sell good, cheap local wine. The couple who own it used to run a similar, but smaller, general store within the walls near the church of Sta Maria Goretti. The shop is in a historic building with stucco decorations.

Corinaldo Market - general view of decorations.

Corinaldo Market – general view of decorations.

Corinaldo Market - detail of decoration

Corinaldo Market – detail of decoration

The other shop, also open till 1.30 pm, is a few doors down. It’s a general store-cum-butcher and they cure their meat themselves, using only salt and pepper, as the Signora told me. They also vacuum-pack, but charge a few euros extra for doing so.

Local prosciutto.

Local prosciutto.

There’s no need to buy Parma or San Daniele prosciutto (air-dried ham). Just ask for prosciutto vostrano, i.e. your local prosciutto, and you will have a good meal.

After all this shopping you might just be able to fit in a swim at the local pool (opens at 12 noon last time I looked) to give you an appetite for lunch.

Corinaldo swimming pool

Corinaldo swimming pool

Views from the pool.

Looking back towards town

Looking back towards town

Looking out over the countryside

Looking out over the countryside

Below is a typical lunch from local shops. The bresaola is served with rocket and parmesan. Salsiccia secca is a cured sausage that doesn’t need cooking.

Lunch with bresaola, salsiccia secca and local wine.

Lunch with bresaola, salsiccia secca and local wine.

You might always decide to have lunch in Corinaldo. The go-to restaurant, I Tigli, is under new management, part of the Albergo Diffuso, and I can’t recommend it until things have settled down a bit.

I Tigli dining room as it used to be - courtesy of their website

I Tigli dining room as it used to be – courtesy of their website

Tigli ex-dining room summer 2014

I Tigli ex-dining room summer 2014

The locals say the food at Scuretto’s (closed Monday) is good and cheap, and we’ve seen people enjoying their lunch at the Caffè del Corso, or you could have a full lunch at Armoguasto’s if they are open.

Armoguasto's Restaurant view from La Piaggia (the steps)

Armoguasto’s Restaurant viewed from La Piaggia (the steps)

Lunch at the 9 Tarocchi doesn’t often seem to be on offer.

After all that you need a sleep to freshen you up for the evening in Corinaldo.

Posted in Borghi dell'entroterra, Corinaldo, Food and drink, Holiday, Shopping, Where to eat | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Il turismo a Corinaldo/Tourism in Corinaldo: the Mayor reflects on tourism policies.

Informattiva Corinaldo Intervista a Matteo Principi, sindaco di Corinaldo.

Senz’altro i Corinaldesi vogliono creare un sistema che produca anche turisti felici!

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The “Annunciation” painted by Giovanni Santi, Raphael’s father

Annunciation by Giovanni Santi c 1490. Thanks to the Comune of Senigallia for the image.

Annunciation by Giovanni Santi c 1490. Thanks to the Comune of Senigallia for the image.

I am quite a fan of “dear old Mr Santi”, as the art historian Kenneth Clark described him, so I was keen to go and see this picture on display in Senigallia as part of the exhibition “La Grazie e la Luce” (Grace and Light). It is thought to have been painted to celebrate the birth, on March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation) 1490, of a long-awaited male heir, Francesco Maria, to Giovanni della Rovere and Giovanna Feltria,  sister of Guidubaldo  and daughter of Federigo Montefeltro, Dukes of Urbino. Young Francesco Maria was to be adopted at the age of 14 as his childless uncle Guidubaldo’s heir as well.

To my mind – or eye – the picture has all Giovanni’s charm and sweetness, which Raphael was to develop into something stronger and deeper.

The exhibition is on until November 2, so do go and see it if you can. Check the opening times! After that, Santi’s Annunciation will presumably return to its usual home in Raphael’s birthplace in Urbino, so you will still have an opportunity to see it.

Posted in History of Art, Renaissance paintings | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Englishwoman visits two Romanesque churches and finds a new restaurant

Why had we taken so long to visit the well-known Romanesque churches of Sta Maria a Piè di Chienti, and S Claudio al Chienti? Because the River Chienti is some way to the south of us in the province of Macerata,and it’s no fun driving down a two-lane autostrada which is being converted to a three-laner (that’s the long stretch between Ancona Nord and Ancona Sud) . The temporary lanes are narrow, the fast lane is populated by drivers of black BMWs exerting the Italian male’s birthright of driving his car at 160kph in the fast lane, and the slow lane is populated by Greek lorry-drivers who hoot at you if you brake or slow down to preserve life and limb.

However, a lorry-free Sunday came round and we had started to think that there are fun alternatives to reading and/or drinking Prosecco on the terrace. “Anyway,” I said, “I need something to put in the blog.” It has taken over from the children’s school Newsbooks as the dictator of our holiday activities. So we set off down the motorway, and then turned west along the superstrada (four-lane highway, toll-free) to Macerata through the pleasant valley of the Chienti, with hills rising on either side of the woods and fields of sunflowers, and the distant view of the Appenines which you can always see wherever you are in Le Marche. We passed a few gracefully symmetrical, tree-lined avenues , one of which was our road to S Claudio.

The road to San Claudio al Chienti

When we arrived we realised that a wedding

Wedding flyer


Fancy dress wedding flyer was soon to take place in the church, so we quickly popped into the lower storey and looked round the simple, harmonious interior while it was still practically empty.

Interior of San Claudio al Chienti; the wedding singer is practising.

Interior of San Claudio al Chienti; the wedding singer is practising.

SanClaudio interior directly facing altar

Love the flower arrangements!

To be honest we were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t get a proper look at the place, but this was soon outweighed by the interest of the guests’ arrival. Only one woman was wearing the sort of formal summer print that we English associate with weddings, and she looked most elegant in her simply cut dress. The other guests were wearing our idea of evening party clothes, or smart casual trousers and tops.

The girl in the  English style frock is second from left in the foreground.

The girl in the English style frock is second from left in the foreground


We waited patiently for the bride to arrive – the guests must have been getting very hot and uncomfortable, but they smiled on. And then –

Adjusting the dress

Adjusting the dress


Walking down the path to the church.

Walking down the path to the church.

Once all the guests had gone into church, we took the opportunity to wander round and get some proper photos of the church.

San Claudio al Chienti: west front

San Claudio al Chienti: west front


San Claudio east end

San Claudio east end

We also had a look at the upper storey, which seems no longer to be used for services, as it was empty apart from a lectern, a screen and a few chairs. I tried to climb the spiral stairs up into the turrets, but they were blocked off.

This quiet hamlet is also home to a Juventus youth development centre (I hope it is still operating, because I couldn’t find it on their website), which is located next to a little primary school. We saw an inconsolably disappointed little boy crying, presumably because his Juve heroes weren’t on view.

All this had taken quite a long time, but we decided to make for Sta Maria anyway, in the hope that it would be open. We drove along the strada provinciale this time, a quiet country road, and arrived in the modest settlement of Montecosaro Scalo, strung out along the road, and eventually spotted the turn-off to the right that led to Santa Maria. Not to our surprise, it was shut – closed at twelve and it was about five past. Several Nordic families of tourists were turning gloomily away. After wondering what to do for a few moments, I experienced a lunch-shaped lightbulb moment and dragged my driver/photographer off (he was a bit mutinous) on his least favourite pursuit – looking for lunch on Sunday in provincial Italy.

Having dismissed a few uninspiring and closed-looking places near the church, we drove to Montecosaro, the nearest hill town, and parked outside the walls. We walked under the arch of the old gateway and through winding alleyways and, just I was starting to despair and feel terribly guilty towards my driver, we saw a Hotel sign. I went in and asked about lunch – yes, the hotel had a restaurant which was open and a short walk away, under the Palazzo Comunale. By now it had started to rain, so it was with great relief that we arrived at the La Luma restaurant and were welcomed in. Our relief was only slightly diminished by the fact that we were the only customers, and by the sight of the prices on the menu – but there was no alternative and anyway the venue, a fine vaulted chamber,

La Luma dining room. Thanks to their website for this and the next three photos.

and the polite and professional waiter, who spoke excellent English, were inviting. Also there was quite a reasonably priced set menu, which turned out to be cooked and served with exquisite care and attention to detail, including the half-dozen or so different kinds of home-made bread and the free amuse-gueules or stuzzichini to start with.

We got chatting to the only other couple there, North Americans who were staying at Montecosaro for the Macerata Opera season. So, if you are visiting Le Marche for that, the hotel looked like a good place to stay with views over the hills and valley, and its restaurant is a good place to eat. The waiter offered to show us the wine cellar,

La Luma wine cellar

which was actually next door to the dining room, and we gazed in wonder at the pre-war bottles of French wine, and admired the table spread with the other goodies produced by the restaurant.

Fig “Salame” from La Luma

Jams from “La Luma”

We also spotted some interesting photographs on the wall – in fact the waiter directed us to this mock-heroic poem “A Morte la Minestra!” (To Death with Soup!), by Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), Italy’s greatest Romantic poet, according to the Oxford Companion to English Literature. He wrote these lines at the age of 11.

Poem: "La Minestra"

Poem: “La Minestra”

Literal translation:

Start up Helicon, O muse of song, And gird your lyre with a laurel crown, Now you are not to sing of heroes or gods, But only load Minestra with insults. Now you, Minestra, are the object of my verses, And to call you abominable gives me great delight.

O food, welcomed in vain by our human race! Food neglected and vile, worthy only of a humble peasant! [Leopardi was only 11 and a Count.] It is said that, when good, you resuscitate the dead, But the pleasure is worthy of those who really aren’t paying much attention.

So do we have to be dead to enjoy These benefits, which are said to be yours alone? Is there nothing for the living? Yes! everyone answers me; So go on and show me, if anybody can; But you are silent! Someone furious begins to speak; But we remain attentive and quiet, to hear: “Who can call a delicate food vile, Which is often the only restoration for a poor, sick person?”

It is true; but whoever may wish to be healthy, thank Heaven, Should leave such food for a poor unhealthy person! Don’t you think it’s a petty irritation every morning To have to force “nice light soup” down your throat?

The second poem we found, below, is by Giorgio Umani (1892-1965), poet, entomologist and lawyer of Cupramontana. He is also credited with persuading the German occupying commander not to execute his (Umani’s) fellow-citizens in reprisal for a partisan action in 1944; however, I can find no source or corroboration for this story. It may well be true – I’m just warning you!

Lines in praise of the Marchigiani  found at La Luma restaurant

Lines in praise of the Marchigiani.

Literal translation:

O Marchigiano, ant of Italy, you who eat for half a person and work for three,  who tighten your belt round your stomach and don’t stretch your hand out; O Marchigiano, the  poor relation of  every neighbour who accepts your corn, who judges  your wine worthy, and then passes by disdainfully on the other side; there is nobody to offer you a coffee, but everyone knows which is your door if there is a mouthful to enjoy at your home. O Marchigiano, subtle of intelligence, poor [?] in money and rich in talent, you pick up your paintbrush and your name is Gentile [da Fabriano], your name is Raphael, you sing, and your name is Gigli. However there is an art, which you, of the stock who gave you Bramante, who gave Spontini, Leopardi and Rossini, will never know: the art of selling your goods well.

You, where others push themselves forward, elbowing furiously, only know the art of standing aside, the art of being behind the scenes, always ready to give way, always prepared to cover powerful incomers with flowers. O Marchigiano, who, if will and understanding were money, would be born a banker, why do you mistake brambles for laurels in foreigners’ houses , you who have among your roses the most beautiful things in the world, the Conero and Portonovo, Furlo, Frasassi, the Ducal Palace of Urbino and the Cappellone [St Nicholas' chapel in the Basilica] of Tolentino? I say! but even the Blessed Virgin Mary, as soon as she in secret had glanced at the world, came home to Loreto!

Also on display in "La Luma"

Also on display in “La Luma”; note the signature.

After our excellent lunch we walked back to the car via this little theatre, one of the many with which Le Marche’s hill towns are blest.

Teatro delle Logge Montecosaro

Teatro delle Logge Montecosaro

We drove back to Montecosaro Scalo, hoping we’d be luckier this time, and found the church open.

Sta Maria (also known as Santissima Annunziata or St Mary of the Annunciation) feels very different from San Claudio.

Sta Maria a pie di Chienti west front

Sta Maria a pie di Chienti; the west front is a C17/18 addition.

The interior is larger, with two dark side aisles

Sta Maria a pie di Chienti; interior

Sta Maria a pie di Chienti; south aisle

an artificially lit central aisle

Sta Maria interior with C15 wooden crucifix

Sta Maria interior with C15 wooden crucifix

Sta Maria a pie di Chienti: altar with Annunciation figures.

Sta Maria a pie di Chienti: altar with the Angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus.

and somehow more confident. The upper storey is still in use for worship, and while we were sitting quietly there, a man approached us who obviously wanted to communicate something It turned out that he subscribed to the theory that San Claudio al Chienti, not the cathedral in Aachen, was Charlemagne’s burial place, and that the valley of the Chienti was the early medieval Francia. I’m not inclined to agree with it myself, as I think Charlemagne wanted to be buried in his home area. Anyway I have added the website to the list for interest.

So we headed home, replete with churches, food and poetry. You can always have a good day out in Le Marche.


Posted in Architecture, Churches, Romanesque Churches, Theatre, Where to eat | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments