Musica, teatro, storia, archeologia – la cultura a Corinaldo

Da Inglese ammiro la varietà e l’alta qualità degli eventi culturali che si svolgono a Corinaldo.  Da noi un paese da circa  5.000 abitanti non potrebbe offrire tanti e tali eventi. Ci siamo divertiti a due concerti, uno spettacolo teatrale, una vernice e una serata che ha unito un incontro e una visita guidata alla chiesa di Madonna del Piano – e potevamo fare di più! In questo post scrivo di solo tré, un concerto, lo spettacolo teatrale e la serata a Madonna del Piano.

Appena arrivati, ci siamo trovati nell’ ambiente splendido della chiesa parocchiale di San Francesco, ad ascoltare un concerto organistico.

L'abside della chiesa di San Francesco a Corinaldo

L’abside della chiesa di San Francesco a Corinaldo

Due musicisti polacchi di fama internazionale, un organista e una violinista, Roman Perucki e Maria Perucka, hanno interpretato, con bravura, musica dell’800 e 900. Un’altra volta, speriamo ascoltare gli organi del organaro Gaetano Callido (1727-1813) a Corinaldo, nella chiesa dell’Addolorata e nel santuario di Santa Maria Goretti.

È stato un piacere vedere la chiesa piena di gente e il parocco, don Giuseppe Bartera, che ospitava la serata. Per quanto abbiamo visto, don Giuseppe è sempre disposto ad accogliere spettacoli e conferenze appropriati nelle chiese della sua parrocchia. Infatti questo concerto ha fatto parte di un’iniziativa della diocesi di Senigallia per valorizzare il territorio. Cosi si può abbinare le bellezze delle chiese a bellezze culturali.

Antigone

Due giorni dopo siamo stati presenti a “Antigone Assolo”,

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a Madonna del Piano (Santa Maria in Portuno), chiesa altomedievale nella valle del Cesano. Mi piace viaggiare per la campagna buia, seguendo i passi dei Romani, per arrivare a questa chiesa parzialmente romanica nel mezzo della campagna, vicina al sito di un ponte o guado romano sul Cesano e una fabbrica romana di ceramiche. In questo luogo ricco di storia,  si svolgeva uno spettacolo adeguato all’antichità del sito: un’interpretazione dell’ “Antigone” di Lino Liviabella, compositore maceratese del primo Novecento.

Dopo qualche parola introduttiva dall’assessore alla cultura, Giorgia Fabbri, la narratrice, Maria Pilar Perez Aspar, ci ha raccontato la storia di Antigone, inframezzata di canzoni operatiche, dal mito della fondazione di Tebe fino ai nostri giorni. Ha legato il passato al presente, leggendo un articolo che descriveva i cadaveri degli immigrati a Lampedusa; un paragone implicito col cadavere insepolto di Polyneice, il fratello di Antigone. Maria Pilar ha osservato che occorre a noi, come ai Greci antichi, dimostrare pudore nella presenza della morte.

Questo spettacolo faceva parte della stagione teatrale di TAU, Teatri Antichi Uniti. Sono sempre cosciente che i Greci e Romani sono i proavi dei Marchigiani, e queste rappresentazioni non solo rendono vivo un aspetto rilevante della storia culturale; ritornano alla vita gli spettacoli che da 600 anni facevano piacere ai proavi dei Marchigiani attuali.

 Archeologia e storia a Madonna del Piano

Abbiamo potuto capire la storia e archeologia della chiesa, antico luogo di culto, un po’ più profondamente, grazie a una visita della chiesa e un incontro: “Alla ricerca del dio Portuno”. Tutto ciò che abbiamo visto e sentito ci ha rinforzato l’idea della continuità.

Visita della chiesa

Questa visita è una lezione di storia in sé. Sul sito della chiesa attuale c’è un luogo di culto cristiano sin dal VI secolo. Nel X secolo, sopra l’edificio antico, è sorsa un’abbazia benedettina con una chiesa da tre navate, mentre la chiesa odierna ne ha solo una, testimone alla diminuita importanza delle chiese rurali relative alle chiese urbane nel tardo medioevo. Il livello del pavimento odierno è molto più elevato di quello della chiesa romanica, come dimostra questa foto:

Si vede appena il pavimento della chiesa romanica sotto la base della colonna

Si vede appena il pavimento della chiesa romanica sotto la base della colonna

Sono stati reimpegati i materiali edilizi romani che si trovavano sul posto.

Capitello romano in marmo bianco dal IV-V secolo

Capitello romano in marmo bianco dal IV-V secolo

Questo capitello è di marmo importato dal Mar di Marmara – esempio di commercio internazionale 1600 anni fa.

Sono stati anche reimpiegati, nel muro settentrionale della chiesa, i laterizi romani usati nel fornace di età romana.

La chiesa conserva anche dipinti di vari stili:- da esempi del culto popolare come questo

LA MADONNA DEL LATTE, Artista Ignoto,  Affresco, Seconda metà XV secolo.

LA MADONNA DEL LATTE, Artista Ignoto,
Affresco, Seconda metà XV secolo.

a un quadro tipico della Controriforma come questo.

Madonna del Piano painting and decoration - cropped

LA MADDALENA AI PIEDI DELLA CROCE di Claudio Ridolfi (Verona 1570 – Corinaldo 1644), Olio su tela, Prima metà del XVII secolo

L’incontro

Dall’incontro col professore Giuseppe Lepore ho portato via un senso della continuità, di cui sono testimoni silenziosi le pietre e mattoni della chiesa. Poi c’è l’antica denominazione della chiesa: “Santa Maria in Portuno”.  Portuno era il dio delle porte, dei porti e anche, secondo il professore Lepore, i guadi. Per i Romani ogni cosa aveva il suo dio; la loro religione primitiva e animistica sopraviveva, nonostante l’adozione degli dei olimpiani e quindi, non trascuravano il dio che regolava i luoghi importanti di transito. Sulle colline sopra la valle ci sono altri segni ancora più antichi di continuità: in contrada Sant’Apollonia nel 1922 è stato trovato un piccolo Kouros in bronzo del VI secolo ante Cristo, un oggetto di culto. Forse qui c’era un santuario legato al colle, o forse si venerava Apollo. Sul secondo proposito sono un po’ dubitosa, siccome la denominazione “Sant’Apollonia” risale solo al 700. Per di più, a  Monte Bonino, toponimo che indica un luogo di culto della Bona Dea,  è stata rinvenuta nel 1636 una tavola con dedica alla stessa dea. A proposito, nel rito della Bona Dea a Roma si è introdotto nel 62 a.C il famigerato Romano, Publius Clodius Pulcher, travestito da donna. Finalmente, a Monte Porzio una grande tomba, segno di un luogo vicino di culto, è stata ritrovata nell’ 800.

Amici viaggiatori, state attenti quando siete in giro sulle colline e lungo i fiumi delle Marche; le divinità antiche ci possono rimanere ancora. Offrite loro almeno una pensiera.

Posted in Ancient Rome, Archaeology, Architecture, Cultura, Dramma, History of Art, Romanesque Churches | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Englishwoman celebrates with memories, flags and dancing

The 9 Tarocchi (Tarot cards) in Corinaldo is one of our favourite restaurants and on Friday 1 August they celebrated the 50th anniversary of their opening. The restaurant was founded in 1964 by a group of young people, in their 20s, I’d say, and we were privileged to hear a conversation, moderated by the mayor, among the various owners of the restaurant through time, particularly its founding fathers.

Sharing memories of I 9 Tarocchi

Sharing memories of I 9 Tarocchi. Fourth from left is the mayor, Matteo Principi, and on his left is Giorgia Fabbri, the Assessore alla Cultura (Portfolio-holder for Culture). Seated at the far right is the current owner.

I started to take notes and one of the group saw me standing and scribbling, somewhat awkwardly, on a piece of paper resting a high shelf. He kindly invited me to take a seat in the circle of speakers, so I had a special place. As your resident blogger I take my duties seriously, so I was a bit concerned that I couldn’t follow everything they said. (I hope this was being recorded for the benefit of future generations.) They weren’t using pure dialect, but I think there were lots of local turns of phrase. Also we had missed the beginning. I must admit we assumed it wouldn’t start on time, not being either a football match or Mass.

I was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm with which the founders spoke of their early days and the fun they must have had. The restaurant started as a simple tavern for the young Corinaldesi, a welcoming social centre. I also got the impression that, having flung themselves into the venture with youthful enthusiasm, they had then had to cope with the realities of finance. One of their number was the administrator who had kept them on the straight and narrow. One problem was that they didn’t have a licence, so they simply acquired one from another local osteria. Perhaps not surprisingly, that osteria isn’t there any more!

There followed a wide ranging conversation with lots of laughs. I’ll pick out the reminiscences of Signora Chiara, the widow of Fausto of I Tigli Restaurant. Their move to I 9 Tarocchi was a big step for them and an important part of their family history. They opened without many changes at first and attracted lots of people, mainly out of curiosity. There was no pastrycook then and they had their pastries delivered from Senigallia. They may have come from (relatively) far but they went down well with the local ladies. Rather than being just a bar/caffè/pasticceria, they opened a kitchen and a pizzeria. At first their customers were local lads, then local ladies and gentlemen, then people from out of town and passing trade. Although there was a bit of initial prejudice because Fausto was from Senigallia, the couple found Corinaldo welcoming and soon the Corinaldesi grew to esteem and like Fausto.

At this point a former waiter intervened to say that he had worked with Fausto for some years and Fausto had been like an elder brother to him.

There was general agreement that though times had changed, the place hadn’t. The mayor asked if the restaurant was more for locals or tourists, and the current owner, who has been there for 10 years and really values serving original and well-cooked dishes, thought that in the summer there were more tourists. In his final remarks the mayor observed how important it was to give young people a space and to put one’s heart into one’s work. He added that the evening had been a good example of the vivacità (liveliness) of the Corinaldesi and how they like to joke.

Time to enjoy the entertainment.

We were treated to an impressive display of flag-waving, accompanied by drumming, by the young people of Combusta Revixi (freely translated as “I arose from the ashes”), the other local group of sbandieratori.

Sbandieratori celebrate 50 years of I 9 Tarocchi

Sbandieratori celebrate 50 years of I 9 Tarocchi

Sbandieratori

Sbandieratori

One tiny girl in the audience much enjoyed it and capered about on her short sturdy little legs, clearly under the impression that she was dancing – and so she was.

There followed a hearty meal, good value at E15 for two generous courses including a tasty portion of Vincisgrassi, the local version of lasagne. There was a good turnout, lots of local people were there and the beautifully turned out waitresses were constantly on the go. We admired their hard work and professionalism.

Celebration dinner at I 9 Tarocchi

Celebration dinner at I 9 Tarocchi

After the meal there was dancing to music played by a DJ, one of Romagna’s best, we were told. Eventually he did get a crowd on to the dance floor

The dancing begins

The dancing begins

and everyone had a great time. (Well, the mayor did say the Corinaldesi were vivaci.) We were all dancing enthusiastically and flinging ourselves into it. I felt that we were seeing Corinaldo scatenata – Corinaldo unchained.

Dancing in the street

Dancing in the street

Posted in Borghi dell'entroterra, Entertainment, Food and drink, Hill towns, Le Marche, Rock 'n' roll | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Addio turismo, buongiorno accoglienza .

L’economia italiana rimane sempre in crisi; il PIL è cresciuto da solo ,3%, e 43% dei giovani sono disoccupati. Molti puntano sul turismo per guadagnare soldi dall’estero e dare lavoro ai giovani. Il sole, il paesaggio, l’arte, la storia, l’archaeologia, la cucina  fanno un’offerta da non perdere. Ma come valorizzare quest’offerta? Nella zona mediterranea anche la Spagna, la Grecia, la Francia, la Croazia e la Turchia hanno tanto da offrire. E in particolare la nostra bella regione, Le Marche, non è ancora pienamente apprezzata dai turisti. Cosa fare? Io non offro consigli sul marketing professionale né sul mercato mondiale. Io parlo della vera e propria accoglienza.

L’entroterra marchigiana potrebbe essere una mèta importante per i turisti. I comuni dei borghi dell’entroterra sono gia parzialmente coscienti di questo fatto. Il sindaco di Corinaldo, Matteo Principi, parla del turismo di qualità, e lui non solo. Ma dalle idee alte bisogna scendere alle cose terrestri.

Qual’è la regola d’oro? E semplice; chi vende lo sa gia: Il cliente ha sempre ragione. Occorre mettersi al posto del turista straniero , con quella elasticità mentale di cui ha parlato Matteo Principi (Informattiva Corinaldo Giugno 2014 pg 2). Io altrove ho consigliato ai turisti inglesi di abituarsi al ritmo di vita italiano e non esigere il ritmo nordico di vita in un paese mediterraneo. Comunque …

Marchigiani dell’entroterra, volete veramente veramente noi turisti? Volete faticarvi per accoglierci, per intrattenerci?

Avete una cucina e dei prodotti tipici di cui vantarvi,

082314_1757_Addioturism1.jpg

Salame Fabriano

avete dei bei ristoranti in cui assaggiare la cucina,

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Ristorante Armoguasto, Corinaldo

avete negozi che vendono questi prodotti

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Enoteca di Scuretto, Corinaldo

e anche oggetti creati da artigiani, eredi di una secolare tradizione di qualità. Ma la qualità dei prodotti non interessa il turista che ha fame e vuole comprarsi il pranzo all’una meno venticinque. L’ambiente del ristorante non interessa il turista che ha invitato i suoi amici a pranzo in un bel locale, quando il locale è chiuso per il giorno di riposo o ferragosto.Volete lavorare a turno, impiegare un giovane (oppurre far aiutare i parenti) o sacrificare il giorno libero per tenere aperti gli esercizi, sia ristoranti che negozi?

Siete un popolo accogliente e fate dei veri sforzi per informare i visitatori. Ma l’alta qualità dei depliants in inglese (magari scritti o almeno redatti da una persona di madrelingua inglese) e l’atteggiamento della personale non significa niente al turista che ha finito pranzo alle 14.30, e vuole sapere che cosa visitare.Volete tagliare corta la pausa di pranzo, o non rispondere a un’emergenza familiare, perche l’IAT o il Pro Loco rimanga aperto?

 

Fossombrone Pro Loco

Fossombrone Pro Loco. What does “Torno Subito” mean?

Avete bellissimi borghi. È un piacere solo camminare per gli antichi vicoli, ammirare i palazzi di laterizio colorato da secoli di sole,

Palazzo Corinaldese

Palazzo Corinaldese

vedere uno scorcio suggestivo,

Urbino

Veduta di Urbino

perdersi nel panorama mozzafiato del paesaggio circostante.

Paesaggio vicino a Serra S Abbondio

Paesaggio vicino a Serra S Abbondio

Ma questo non significa niente, se i figli vogliono la toiletta ed è difficile da trovare e sporca, e non c’è né sapone né carta igienica. Comuni, siete pronti ad investire soldi, in questo tempo di crisi e taglie, per accommodare i turisti?

Avete opere d’arte, sia contemporanee che antiche, di qualità e valore storico. Avete musei e gallerie sistemati in luoghi storici (tipo la Madonna delle Grazie di Senigallia), che sono musei in sé. Servono solo a deludere il turista, che sia curioso o artistico, o (parliamo pur francamente) solo volga rifugiarsi dalla pioggia. Di solito i musei sono aperti solo poche ore al giorno, o 2 giorni su 7, o solo la sera, o sono in restauro sin dal … millennio (e fino al prossimo millennio?).

Questo vale ancora di più per le biblioteche storiche, una risorsa quasi sconosciuta. Tanti bei libri antichi, incunaboli, quindicine, chiusi nelle biblioteche. Cito la Biblioteca Passionei di Fossombrone. Voleva il bravo monsignore che il suo dono sia da anni in sistemazione e chiuso al publico? Non credo. Anche se le biblioteche sono aperte, le loro collezioni antiche non sono valorizzate. Ancora una possibilità di  turismo trascurata. Comuni, provincie, regione, siete disposti ad investire soldi, dare lavoro ai custodi, nel presente clima economico?

Non parlo delle chiese, paleocristiane, medioevali, barocche, con affreschi e quadri dei grandi maestri, che costituiscono forse la più grande gloria della regione.

San Claudio al Chienti

San Claudio al Chienti

La Chiesa può fare come Le pare. Il suo compito è il culto, non il turismo. Mi limito a dire che la Chiesa ha un dovere sacro dell’ospitalità, e  l’accoglienza, l’ambiente di preghiera e  tranquillità sono un testimone molto più efficace del cartellone “Chiuso da 12 alle 15” o “Aperto per la Santa Messa il terzo giovedì del mese”. Ho visto tanti stranieri andare via delusi da tante chiese. Che ne dice Gesù?

Cari Marchigiani, volete lavorare sotto il sole di agosto, perchè il turista possa divertirsi e spendere quei soldi duramente guadagnati? Volete dedicare qualche ora del vostro tempo libero ad imparare l’inglese, l’attuale lingua franca? Siete dei grossi lavoratori che volete condividere le bellezze della vostra regione, e la risposta sicuramente sarà un “Si” resonante. Senno, potete dire addio ai turisti, tranne quelli che sono disposti a tollerare le difficoltà, perchè amano l’Italia. Se volete solo questo tipo di turista simpatico, non farete, come ha detto Giuliano Ciabocco (Informattiva Corinaldo Giugno 2014 pg 6), “confluire nella vostra regione sempre piu turisti”.

La stagione turistica si sta rallentando; avete tempo per pensarci su. Tocca a voi.

Posted in Borghi dell'entroterra, Churches, Corinaldo, Food and drink, Hill towns, History of Art, Holiday, Italy, Le Marche, Libraries, Museums, Religious art, Tourism, Travel, Vacanze, Where to eat | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Englishwoman encounters a mermaid and a gryphon at San Vito sul Cesano

We’re going to resume our much-interrupted journey along the valley of the River Cesáno and the Roman road which runs alongside it. We’ve already visited the ruined Roman town of Suasa, on the other side of the river, and the Romanesque churches of San Lorenzo in Campo and San Gervasio di Bulgaria.

A bit of history for those who are interested

After Suasa was abandoned following the fall of the Roman Empire, there was no administrative centre in the Cesano valley. In the early Middle Ages, the monasteries of San Lorenzo and San Gervasio (both tenth century), plus San Vito (around the year 1000), Madonna del Piano (S Maria in Portuno, tenth century), San Biagio in Serra Sant’ Abbondio (1000 AD), of which only the churches survive, and the still-existing monastery of Fonte Avellana, formed a close network, which took over the administration and organisation of the surrounding countryside and its settlements. There is a good website, http://santamariainportuno.it/ (which is why I haven’t yet posted about Madonna del Piano), which contains this information, which I originally got from a lecture at the church. It also has photos of details of the interiors of the churches, http://santamariainportuno.it/monasteri_val_cesano but doesn’t identify them. If, having read this post,  you have a look at the photos, you will be able to tell where at least one of them comes from.

Back to San Vito

Fortunately, from my point of view, some of these churches have retained something of their mediaeval character. My followers will know that the one-size-fits-all Baroque church renovations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries leave me cold. Luckily for lovers of the Romanesque, though perhaps unfortunately for the churches, lack of money or remoteness has preserved them from the worst excesses of restoration. The eleventh-century San Vito church, San Vito sul Cesano east frontthe one I visited most recently, is known as “La Pieve Romanica” or “La Pieve Antica”(“The Romanesque parish church” or “The old parish church”). By the way, for those who didn’t know, the word “pieve” derives from “plebs”, the Latin for “common people”. According to the comune’s website, the church ceiling fell in in the earthquake of 3 June 1781, it contains a fine picture of Mary of the Sorrows, and has been declared a national monument and recently restored. Shame it’s kept locked. As the book “Santa Maria in Portuno nella valle del Cesano”(Bologna, 2006) says, “the capitals, sculptures and paintings contained within the churches of the Cesano valley wait only to be discovered” (p.41, my translation). That was written eight years ago and,they are still waiting, never to be discovered unless some agreement can be reached about keyholders.

Half a mile from the main centre of population, the church offers infrequent services, for the benefit of a dedicated small group which obviously really loves it.  As I mentioned above, it is usually locked without any indication of a keyholder. I didn’t want to go along and join in one of the services, just as a way of seeing the interior. Perhaps next time I’ll venture to disturb the inhabitants of the house built on to the church .

It is the sculptures on the outside of the church which are really fascinating and are worth the journey. According to the book cited above, they have probably been re-used from elsewhere.

San Vito sul Cesano carvings of mythical creatures

San Vito sul Cesano: carvings of mythical creatures

The upper carving, in the lower plaque on the right, represents a two-tailed mermaid, but otherwise I don’t know what they represent, either in themselves or as allegedly Christian allegories. If any reader  happens to know,  please tell us via the comments facility.

San Vito sul Cesano carvings on the east end of the church

San Vito sul Cesano: interlaced pattern and winged beast (gryphon?)

San Vito sul Cesano : dog with a cheeky grin

San Vito sul Cesano : mythic beast

There is something pagan, wild and primitive about them which is reminiscent of Wiligelmo’s Duomo at Modena. The interlaced pattern on the left of the upper photograph above is reminiscent of Celtic craftsmanship. Maybe they are embarrassing to the modern Church hierarchy, as I can find little written about them and they are certainly not as well-known as they deserve to be. They are not mentioned on San Lorenzo in Campo’s website (San Vito is a part of the comune of San Lorenzo). There is a large and unsightly gap, over the porch,  where one sculpture has been removed, or window blocked up?

San Vito sul Cesano -  blank space where carving has been removed

San Vito sul Cesano – blank space where carving has been removed

Next stop Serra Sant’ Abbondio!

Posted in Architecture, Churches, History of Art, Religious art, Romanesque Churches | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Driving In Le Marche

If you are holidaying in Le Marche, a car is a must to explore those out of the way hill-top towns and villages.  Given the geography of the region, roads in Le Marche can be a bit winding and bumpy, and driving through those beautiful hill-top towns and villages can really challenge your manoeuvring and navigational skills. While driving through the mountains is a great scenic experience, the roads can be a little harrowing, and coastal tracks really only have room for one way traffic.

So, in order to make sure you enjoy driving in Le Marche, here are a few things worth knowing: 

What You Will Need When Driving In Le Marche [...]Italian Road Rules [...]Italian Driving Etiquette [...]

Source: bellavallone.com

Posted in Scoop.it | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Englishwoman in Corinaldo; a personal take

Corinaldo Le Marche italy

Corinaldo

One of the most beautiful small towns in Italy. It actually belongs to an association called “I borghi più belli d’Italia” (“Italy’s most beautiful small towns”) which claims to have strict entry conditions. When we take our guests round the town, they are always amazed that it isn’t better known. I’m doing my best to remedy that.

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

Chances are this will be the first gate you see. You can go in this way and walk up the steps, seen here from the top. They are very steep so don’t do this every time.

Corinaldo La Piagga - the steps

Corinaldo La Piaggia – the steps with Pozzo della Polenta

Legend has it that a not-so-bright citizen dropped a sack of cornmeal into the well (Pozzo), which you can see about seven steps down, thus creating the eponymous polenta.

At the top of the steps, on the left, is the Comune building, or town hall. This was built to rival the Augustinian convent, now the Hotel Giglio, opposite. Walk along its classically harmonious portico

Portico of Corinaldo's Comune

Portico of Corinaldo’s Comune

and enjoy the view therefrom. Many’s the time I’ve come this way to do business in the Comune though I’ve also come here to be shown some less well-known corners by a very busy official who kindly spared me his time. After dealing with the official paperwork, I treat myself to this view from the far end.

Corinaldo view from Comune portico

Corinaldo view from Comune portico

In this part of Le Marche, which is hilly rather than mountainous, there is no building stone and one of its delights is the local brick’s many soft shades of terracotta .

We always call in at the IAT (tourist office), opposite the Comune, to see what’s on and chat to the charming assistant who speaks excellent English. Here you will find various tourist guides and leaflets, including a guide to the walk round the walls, the best way to see the town. But read my remarks on opening times and the Italian way of life before you embark on either visiting IAT or walking round the walls.

Refreshments

Read my post on caffès in Le Marche. Some local establishments aren’t really for tourists or foreigners. We tend to allocate our patronage to three establishments.

First, the Chiosco, or kiosk, (their WC is for public use and very clean) just outside the north corner of the walls, opposite the tower called Lo Sperone and above the Porta San Giovanni.  The barmaid is invariably polite and pleasant, though she works long hours and must get very tired. This is a good place to see the life of the town going on, as it is near the main parish church of San Francesco, the Farmacia Comunale (muncipal pharmacy) and the road around the walls. Here you can enjoy looking on at local festivities such as weddings and First Communions.

Corinaldo Church of San Francesco

Corinaldo Church of San Francesco

The crowds are waiting for the bride.

The Caffè del Corso, which has recently had a facelift, is near the banks, the hairdressers, the Comune, the IAT and the Hotel Giglio, so people tend to pop in here for a quick coffee around 10 or 11 when they have run their errands. Guests from the Giglio also come here. Here you can buy your stamps and postcards from the post office/tobacconist/stationer’s opposite, write them and then post them in the box on the wall of the Comune’s portico.

At the top of the Steps, and consequently popular with tourists, is the Osteria de Scuretto – see my post. It’s also a good place for seeing the life of the town, as it’s across the square from the laundry and at the end of Via Cimarelli, a street with lots of shops.

Food Shopping

We buy good local cured meats  and cheese in the Corinaldo Market (not a market; a local grocery), under the walls, near the Porta di Sotto  in the Costa del Gioco di Pallone. NB It doesn’t open in the afternoon till 4.30. If you want to take produce home, Signora Gabriella will slice and vacuum pack it for you. We buy freshly-made pasta in a pastificio in Via Cimarelli, and in the same street there is a greengrocer (frutta e verdure) which also sells tasty ready-cooked vegetable dishes.

Eating
The Tigli (closed on Monday) is a beautiful restaurant in a former convent built into the walls. If you book in advance or arrive early enough on summer evenings you can eat outside on the terrace. The menu is good traditional local cooking; go for seafood, pasta, pizza and the scaloppini di vitello. The 9 Tarocchi  (closed on Wednesday), also built into the walls, and Armoguasto, halfway up the Steps, serve traditional local food too, but with a modern twist. At the 9 Tarocchi go for the involtini di bresaola – rolled-up slices of bresaola (cured beef) with a filling of ricotta cheese and ribbons of grilled courgettes. Armoguasto’s has only recently opened and we’re still sampling their various dishes – my gnocchi were very good.

Theatre
Teatro Goldoni
Another small, charming theatre recently reopened. For what’s on try visiting the communal website or the local newspaper, posters, the IAT and the theatre itself.

Library
You can use the internet here for free, though the connection doesn’t always work. There are some fine antiquarian books, going back to the 16th century, – the helpful librarian will show them to you – and the Corinaldo section of the Catasto Gregoriano (early C19 property register, consisting of maps and explanatory notes). The communal archive is attached to the library – visit by appointment.

Festa
Pozzo della Polenta (Well of Polenta). Takes place on the third weekend in July to commemorate the town’s successful resistance to Francesco Maria della Rovere’s (the Duke of Urbino’s) siege of 1517, and the local folk tale mentioned above.  A good one with all the trimmings.

Festa del Pozzo di Polenta Corinaldo Le Marche Italy

Festa del Pozzo di Polenta

If you get the chance, go to one of the flag-waving (sbandieratori) shows. Sbandieratori are an important part of central Italian culture, although like most English people I’d never heard of them before I came to Le Marche, and this group, Araba Fenice, travels all over the world with their shows. They are spectacular!

Corinaldo flag wavers/sbandieratori; the myth of Persephone

Corinaldo flag wavers; the myth of Persephone

 

Sbandieratori/flag waving finale of the myth of Persephone Corinaldo

Flag waving finale

Posted in Corinaldo, Entertainment, Food and drink, Hill towns, Holiday, Italia, Italy, Le Marche, Libraries, Theatre, Tourism, Travel, Vacanze, Vacation, Viaggi, Where to eat | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Hill Towns of Le Marche: survival guide for tourists

Hill towns of Le Marche

The frank guide to towns, sights and where to eat, drink and shop, with advice on how not to end up disappointed, fed up and frustrated.

Welcome to the Marche, between the Apennines and the Adriatic, where the hills swoop surreally up and down, where the people are honest, hard-working and polite, where crime is rare, where the olive and vine are fruitful, where hill-towns are ennobled by spacious piazzas, proud fortresses, dignified churches and imposing defensive walls. Why aren’t they better known? Well, Tuscany it’s not. We’re not talking about world class master pieces. It’s the ensemble which counts, the mellow brick against the blue sky. Moreover, mostly the young people speak English and there are few concessions to non-Italian customs – though tins of baked beans have been spotted for sale in the south of the region. Read a short piece by Anne Treneman, the [London] Times parliamentary sketch-writer in The Times travel section of 15.11.2008, to get an idea of what to expect.

This site aims to give you clues to enjoying the area, whether you have come as a tourist or longer-term resident. We foreigners rely on each other for tips and wrinkles, so even if you know a lot, you may find something helpful here.

I’m a librarian so you will also find information about libraries with historic collections, of which there are a lot in the Marche.

Useful info

Opening hours

If you’ve been to Italy, you’ll know what I mean.. Hot, footsore, thirsty, hungry and what would be cross if you weren’t on an expensive holiday (and the children are cross), you arrive at the local restaurant only to read “Chiuso per ferie” or “Chiuso per turno” or “Aperto ogni giorno tranne lunedi.” If you didn’t know what Chiuso means you do now! Or still worse, you think you’ll drive down to the village to buy stuff for your first meal. What with one thing and another you don’t get out till 11.45 and by the time you get there the charming little shop is Chiuso dalle 12 alle 15. Or the local art gallery/museum is only open two evenings a week (this is not an exaggeration).

What to do

Well, you are reading this which is a good start.

Lead the Italian way of life. They have been living in this country for thousands of years and they have evolved an excellent way of coping with the heat. They do everything early in the morning, before the sun is too fierce – yes, even on holiday – or after 3 pm, when the sun is starting to decline. Between 12 and 3 they are having lunch and a pisolino (nap). They stick to this timetable all year round, even though it can be cold and wet in autumn, winter and spring. So, quite lively towns can seem dead between 12 and 3, to the point of being depressing.

Since writing this I have observed that shops and tourist offices are now often closed till 4 or even 5 pm. I think this is to save staff and other costs because of the recession (la crisi economica).

If you are arriving at an airport or station and hiring a car to reach your destination, stop at a motorway service station and buy the basics. If you are staying in a town and plan to go on foot and use public transport, the chances are you will find somewhere open, outside lunchtime and Sunday. Once you have arrived and settled in, either get out early to your shopping, or at least be in the shop by 11.45. Or do your shopping between 5 and 8 pm. In summer large supermarkets are often open all day “orario continuo” and on Sundays “Aperto anche domenica”.

The Marchigiani are hard working. Lots of caffè-bars are open from 7 am to 2 am. (They often serve quite acceptable pasta or salad lunches, by the way.) But they believe in work-life balance, which means that most establishments close one day a week. It’s often Monday. Do a recce before you go out to eat. Walk or drive around a bit, find at least two restaurants and establish when their closure day is. Arrive before you’re really hungry. And obviously if you are going to visit a new place, you can’t do all this. Remember what I said about the bars and, if you have children, consider eating on the road at the snack-bar or restaurant attached to a service station.

As for sightseeing … well, the Marchigiani have a lot of heritage and they can’t afford to look after it all properly. They choose to spend the money on free entertainments,  instead. Don’t rely on anywhere being open, be prepared to be disappointed, and remember that, as an alternative, non-isolated churches are usually open, except between 12 and 3. The sacristan has got to have his lunch. If they are saying Mass you can sit quietly at the back taking it all in if you don’t want to or can’t join in.

Food and eating

It’s a myth that Italians don’t eat ready meals. They do. They buy them at a “rosticceria”. You’ll often see young mums who don’t want to cook after a morning on the beach buying the entire lunch at one of these establishments.  They also serve rosticceria-type dishes at supermarket deli counters. Use them – point at what you want. For pudding they have fresh fruit or buy a dry and stodgy Torta or crostino at the local pasticceria. If you want a nice pudding to eat at home, buy a selection of little cakes, or a semifreddo (ice cream cake) at a caffe or gelateria (ice-cream parlour) or buy an ice-cream to eat in the street at a gelateria. NB Algida is Unilever and you could buy their stuff at home.

Sightseeing

I haven’t listed all the sights; you can usually find these in guidebooks or on the web. Instead I’ve picked out interesting points.

Entertainment (general)

Free

Most hill-towns have an extensive programme of free entertainment in the summer. Visit the tourist office and/or the Pro Loco, study posters, and buy the local newspaper, Corriere Adriatico or Resto del Carlino. Even if you don’t speak Italian you will find their pull-out “what’s on” sections useful. Don’t rely only on web-sites or printed leaflets. Keep your eyes open generally. Wander along to the main square in the evening.

Paid-for

Particularly noteworthy are pageants, rievocazioni storiche, which involve all or any of:-

the locals dressing up in historic costume and processing about the town, meals cooked and served by local volunteers, competitions involving anything from welly-whanging -or its Italian equivalent -to archery, flag wavers (sbandieratori), drumming (preceded by regular nocturnal practice), dancing, son et lumiere, fireworks etc. They are great fun. Visit your nearest town’s website to see if they have one.

You pay for these at the historic centre’s main gate. Often it’s the only way of getting in to the old town. You will get an idea of what it was like to enter the town in the past, when, no doubt, even if you had to pay no customs dues, you had to bribe the guards.

Things get a bit quieter outside the summer season, but this is when the local theatres have their programme of theatre (prosa), orchestral music (concerti), and singing and opera (lirica). Le Marche is said to have more theatres than any other Italian region. See the photos below for some of them.

Jesi; teatro Pergolesi, Le Marche, italy

Jesi: Teatro Pergolesi

Cagli Theatre, Le Marche, Italy

Cagli Theatre

Mondavio Theatre. Le Marche, italy

Mondavio Theatre. Shame about the cars – some locals would like the piazza to be pedestrianised.

If using the web to find out what’s on, you may need to visit the local commune’s website and navigate to “teatro” or “eventi” for music. A useful site for theatre is http://www.stabilemarche.it/stagioni.asp?id=126 .

Posted in Borghi dell'entroterra, Hill towns, Holiday, Italia, Italy, Le Marche, Libraries, Tourism, Travel, Vacanze, Vacation, Viaggi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments