What to do
Cultural tours of medieval towns such as Ascoli Piceno and Amandola.
Visitors to Le Marche are often surprised by the richness of the area’s historical, religious and artistic culture within a largely rural region which is much better known for its natural attractions. In fact, there’s a significant volume and variety of cultural tours in medieval towns such as Ascoli Piceno and Amandola. And that’s just as it should be because there are more museums per head of population in Marche than anywhere else in Italy.
Ascoli’s stunning quintana pageant with its lavish medieval costumes, is an annual street event which turns the city and its people into living history. On a lesser scale, Caldarola’s historic medieval (but still lived-in) castle reveals what day to day life was like in a walled fortress that was the town’s principal means of defence. In Amandola, the charming, tiny and originally roofless La Fenice theatre demonstrates the town’s interest in and commitment to the arts. So do the town’s churches which are home to a treasure trove of religious art. In nearby Monte San Martino, the local church’s Crivelli collection is world famous, and frequently visited by experts in religious artworks.
Wildlife, hikers and mountain bike trails
In the spring, the River Tenna, which flows from the Sibillini Mountains to the sea, is dammed to make it part of the Sibillini National Park. This flooding makes the area ideal for otters and the trout and other fish they feed upon. La Mela Rosa’s location near the Sibillini National Park makes its 5 acres a safe and sheltered home to a wide range of wildlife. For example, families of pheasants live in the hedgerows and ditches, and foxes, deer, wild boars, pine martins, porcupines and a lone wildcat are all regular – if somewhat shy and nervous - visitors.
The area’s wildlife share the ground with hikers and those in search of mountain bike trails. The Sibillini Mountains offer a series of graded and well signposted trails that can be accessed via the ancient fortress town of Amandola (circa 1248), the National Park’s north-eastern gateway – a six minute drive from La Mela Rosa.
There are some wonderful places to eat.For example, the Dei Priori restaurant in nearby Monte San Martino is renowned for its melt-in-the-mouth pasta "Angelica" and nettle tagliatelle; Ristorante Farfense at Santa Vittoria in Matenano with the fabulous ravioli stuffed with dried figs and aged pecorino; Mirella's wonderful wild herb cuisine at her agriturismo La Conca.
The regional food has always been “slow food” before becoming part of the Slow Food movement. The cheese is predominantly pecorino (made from sheep’s milk), the Ascolani olives are large green olives stuffed with minced pork then lightly crumbed and fried, the white and black truffles in the autumn and winter as well as the scorzoni – summer truffles, porcini mushrooms, chestnuts (try the chestnut crepes stuffed with asparagus at Agriturismo Santa Lucia)...the list goes on!!.
Le Marche produces excellent quality wine such as the Rosso Piceno and the Pecorino (yes, a very old grape variety and not just a cheese). Most of the farmers make their own vino cotto, the traditional cooked wine as well as mistra, a type of grappa. The Meletti family of Ascoli Piceno still make their Anisette, a soft, sweet liquour made from aniseed plants grown on the high plains of Castignano.
La Mela Rosa, Villa Caccianebbia, 4, 63857 Amandola (FM), Italia
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