I usually like to sight-see conscientiously, guide-book in hand, but this time we just wandered round as our fancy took us.
As you would expect from the former seat of papal government, Macerata has a number of fine monumental buildings and, as with all Italian borghi, some delightful byways and corners.
We saw this fine C17 church of San Giovanni Battista
and the C16 Palazzo dei Diamanti, so called after the diamond-pointed rustication. It is now the property of the Banca d’Italia.
But there were lots of charming glimpses and little quirks as well.
In contrast, here is a busy street scene. You can tell that Macerata is a university city. Note the fine doorway with the broken pediment on the left.
Hmm, wonder if you can buy a deep-fried Mars bar in this wee caffè?
As some of my cari lettori already know, I’m fascinated by, and have posted about, the tensions in Italian history between diversity and unity, Catholicism and the secular state, and in addition the desire to play a leading role on the world stage and the desire for a quiet life. The two inscriptions below reflect these tensions.
Here is a basic translation: “Dante’s thought, having become across the centuries Renaissance, Reform, Science, Revolution, patriotic feeling, having become through persecution Italic Law, had in Le Marche fulfilment and triumph on 18th September 1860 [the battle of Castelfidardo] with the victory of Italian arms over the ruins of theocratic despotism, The provincial council of Macerata on the fiftieth anniversary of the memorable date, reaffirms the votes [vows] of a people who wished to replace double tyranny, spiritual and political, with the rule of reason and civilisation [civiltà could =civic spirit]. 18th September 1910.”
Not too sure what Dante would have thought of that. He may have criticised individual popes, but as a deeply religious man, steeped in mediaeval thought,he would have welcomed a Pope who could be Italy’s leader and saviour.
And below is an inscription in memory of Macerata’s contadini who died in the First World War. It wasn’t put up by the civil authorities, but by a mutual insurance society.
Sad to think that so many died to satisfy the lust for blood and glory of Gabriele d’Annunzio and his like.
On a more cheerful note, this caffè was in an elegant arcade. We spotted it at 3 pm and came back later for a drink (the Englishwoman only drinks between certain times, and looks at her watch before accepting, when she’s offered a drink), when it was much busier.
Here are some details:
You can see this upside-down in the photo above this one. It is set into the floor of the arcade.
Since I wrote this the caffè has been reborn as a sushi bar, but the decor does not seem to have been drastically altered. Its new owner, meanwhile, appears to be under investigation.
It’s the inlaid floor outside which makes this shop so special.
We also had a look at the gallery of 20th century art in the Palazzo Buonaccorsi. I’ve selected a couple of pictures which capture, or attempt to capture, something of the character of Le Marche. Actually you find the tiled roofscapes all over Italy. I first really noticed them in Perugia when I was about 18 or 19.
And what roof would be complete without a cat?
And finally …
I leave you to ponder.