My Italian friend and fellow blogger Angela kindly took the Chelsea Fan and me round this modestly charming seaside resort, to the south-east of Monte Conero and in the regional Parco del Conero. Sirolo is also an ancient citadel against pirates and other maritime marauders.
It’s easy when you visit a seaside place to stop at the main square or the promenade, mingle with the crowds, enjoy the view, perhaps have an ice-cream, and move on. Usually you don’t get much sense of the place – just another resort. In Le Marche, if you want to go to the beach, try a place like Sirolo, Senigallia or Fano which has a “centro storico”. That way, you can enjoy strolling round and getting the atmosphere of the place. If your children are with you, make an ice-cream and/or drink the excuse for your wander. You can often find charming, less crowded caffè-bars away from the sea. That said, if you want to swim, Sirolo is on a cliff top high above the beaches, which you scramble down to along steep paths. You can always take the short walk to Numana, where the beaches are more accessible, and explore Sirolo before and after your swim.
As you would expect of a citadel, there are wonderful views – no pirate ships in sight, though.
I like this photograph because it gives you an idea of Sirolo’s hinterland.
When we could tear ourselves away from the views, we were lucky enough to have Angela as our guide through the warren of ancient streets which give Sirolo its extra charm.
These narrow streets ending with a glimpse of green hills and blue sky are very characteristic of the hill-towns of Le Marche. You find similar effects in San Lorenzo in Campo and Fossombrone.
We remembered that we needed to get some money out of the Bancomat, which fortunately is just by the so-called Gothic arch, a sight which takes you back into Sirolo’s mediaeval past.
According to this plaque, the communal arch, or castle gateway, was built in 1050. Interestingly, the conditions, on which Francesco Urbani was allowed to rent the arch from the comune in 1707, show that the Turks were still considered a threat to the coast: if the Turks should disembark and approach the walls, Urbani was to allow the soldiers to go to the arch to defend the place.
Note the flag of the contrada (district). There has probably been, or will soon be, a local festa involving an intra-communal welly-whanging contest – or perhaps something a bit more cultural and highbrow, such as archery or flag-waving.
We then left the old town to visit the former Franciscan friary, where St Francis himself is said to have planted two elms which are still there. Along the line of the old walls we saw this fine row of ancient buildings
including this structure
and the Teatro Cortesi, one of Le Marche’s famously many charming small theatres. It was being well used by a young musicians’ competition.
Next door to the Teatro Cortesi, but hidden behind the trees in the picture above, is the Torrione, or big tower.
This is all that remains of the towers of Sirolo, built by the Conti Cortesi who ruled the city until 1225.
We walked on down Via San Francesco to the Villa Vetta Marina, the site of the Franciscan friary where St Francis planted the elms. On the way there are lots of elegant villas, nestled among the greenery.
This chapel is attached to the villa.
We did manage to see St Francis’ elms, though we didn’t get a very good view of them.
By now my regular readers won’t be surprised to hear that it was time for some refreshment! We headed back to a caffè in the piazza, where I had a frullata al melone (frullata can mean smoothie but this was an ice-cream shake).
Obviously it was still the off-season, because when Angela explained she was in a bit of a hurry, our waitress looked worried and said they had four other tables. For about three staff we didn’t think five tables was excessively busy! But it’s all part of the charm of getting away from it all.
We also had a look at two local churches, but unfortunately they were too dark to photograph properly. I did get this shot, which reinforces the unhurried atmosphere of Sirolo.
Here are a few other attractive corners of Sirolo.
I’m really grateful to Angela for encouraging us to visit Sirolo and taking the time to show us round. Angela writes a blog too and here is the link to it: http://www.originalmarche.com