Macerata - Castle
Macerata is composed of a natural scenery with a thousand facets: mountains, hills, valleys, woods and cultivated fields running all the way to the shores of the Adriatic. Macerata is set on a hill at 314 meters above sea level, between the Potenza and Chienti valleys. It is surrounded by a spectacular mosaic of cultivated fields maintained as if they were gardens or parks.
Also in Macerata: Recanati, birthplace of Giacomo Leopardi; Camerino, with its pretigious university; Tolentino, decidedly picturesqe and a regular tourist attraction;, and the beaches of Civitanova Marche.
Culture has been the centerpiece of the Macerata province since the time of Father Matteo Ricci, who left Italy at 26 years old to travel to the Far East to open passage to China.
It only takes a walk along Corso Matteotti - the main street, towards Piazza della Libertà, with the Palazzo dei Priori and its statues and plaques - to discover Macerata’s 16th-Century architecture. Here stand the Palazzo Rinascimentale della Prefettura, St. Paul’s Church and the Rossi Theatre, built in the 18th Century. Other must-see features are the unique Sferisterio, a large court for handball games built around 1820, the 15th-Century Duomo, the Loggia dei Mercanti, Palazzo Compagnoni Marefoschi, Palazzo Buonaccorsi, Palazzo Ricci, home to the Contemporary Art Gallery, the Basilica della Madonna della Misericordia and the Torre dell'Orologio (clock tower), with its stunning view.
A tour of the Province might start from Montecassiano, with the Palazzo Comunale and the church of the Assunta and, after few miles, the Romanesque Church of San Claudio al Chienti. The visitor can continue on to Morrovalle and the International Museum of the Nativity, with almost 500 scenes from all over the world.
Not be missed are the Urbisaglia and its Archeological Park, the Medieval village and the Abbey of Chiaravalle di Fiastra, a peaceful oasis in a nature reserve.
Art and well-being come together in Sarnano, where the many monuments of the historical center are the backdrop to relaxation at San Giacomo’s thermal spa. In Tolentino, there is the Church of San Nicola, world-famous for its magnificent Cappellone decorated with 14th-Century frescoes by Giotto and the Rimini school.
Potenza Picena is the location of the Villa Giardino Buonaccorsi, the only example of an 18th-Century Italian garden still in perfect condition. Civitanova Marche and Porto Recanati are worth a visit for those who love the sea.
The ancient village of Recanati deserves mention as the birthplace of Giacomo Leopardi and the 20th-Century tenor Beniamino Gigli. Recanati houses many 15th and 16th-Century monuments, and the Pinacoteca Comunale displays an invaluable collection of paintings by Lorenzo Lotto; in addition, the traveller should not miss a tour of the places that inspired Giacomo Leopardi’s poems.
In the area surrounding Macerata is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta di Rambona, with its beautiful frescoes, founded by Queen Ageltrude in the 8th-Century. Also known as ‘the balcony of the Marches’, thanks to the spectacular views of the Conero and Sibillini Mountains, Cìngoli is a quiet town with many Medieval churches.
In the Sibillini Mountains wind numerous trails for trekking, horseback riding and mountain biking. The winds here enable the practice of paragliding and hang gliding at the school above the San Liberato Monastery. There is fine off-piste skiing in the Azzurri Mountains, which Romantic poet Giacomo Leopardi could see from his window in Recanati.
For those looking to just relax, the area offers thermal spas in Sarnano and Tolentino.
Macerata, with its countless theatres and amazing productions, will not disappoint those keen on drama and opera. The theatrical season reaches its peak with the ‘Rassegna Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica A. Perugini’ and the celebrated opera season held at the Sferisterio. Equally well known is the Macerata Jazz Festival. Speaking of music, the Recanati Music Festival is a coveted gig for young singer-songwriters.
Sarnano hosts the Mostra Mercato Nazionale dell'Antiquariato Artistico, the national antique trade fair, whereas in August, historical reenactments bring a Medieval atmosphere to the streets. Tolentino puts on a reenactment of the famous 1815 battle between the army of Gioacchino Murat and the Austrians. It also plays host to the ‘Biennale Internazionale dell'Umorismo nell'Arte,’ the international exhibition of humor in art, with a display of the works at the International Humor Museum. Among the most unique events is the Disfida del Bracciale or the bracelet challenge, a 19th-Century reenactment held in Treia. The districts compete against each other, each representing a different social class: the noble, the bourgeoisie, the farmers and the gypsies of the community that once lived nearby. Music and dance accompany the event.
The old amphitheatre in Urbisaglia is the splendid setting for works by Plautus, Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles.
It is easy to savor the charm of the ancient agricultural rituals by opting for one of the many farm holidays in villas and country houses immersed in nature, where one can enjoy the local cuisine.
A very rich first course is vincisgrassi, a kind of lasagne and meat sauce. The ciausculu is a lean, pork-meat salami, finely minced and seasoned with garlic, pepper and parmigiana di gobbi (thistle).
A typical and tasty dish is the brodetto of Porto Recanati, a fish soup whose broth is obtained by pre-cooking cuttlefish with saffron.
Desserts include biscotti col mosto and the area’s crescia fogliata. Among the DOC wines are the Bianco dei Colli Maceratesi, the celebrated Verdicchio di Matelica, the Vernaccia di Serrapetrona and spumante.
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