Tips for Le Marche?
I'll be spending a week in upland Le Marche, in the tiny town of Pergola. Will probably visit Urbino and other hilly places, but don't think I'll be spending much time on the coast (Ancona northward), since my friends live in Pergola. Am looking for info on vineyards, dining, markets and shops -- the usual Chowstuff. We'll have a car, so transport is under control. Leaving April 17, returning in early May.
I live next door, in Sassoferrato, about 20 minutes from Pergola. I find that Pergola itself doesn’t have all that much to recommend itself. Neither does Sasso, really. But should you venture this way (south-ish of Pergola), La Rocca (http://www.ristorantelarocca.biz/) (at the castello, or top part of the town) has a pretty good chef doing somewhat more modern takes on classics. Also in that piazza is Bartolo (named after the town’s favorite son, the father of international law). The food is good, but basic – as is the case in much of central Marche.
Since you’re in the area, be sure to check out the Frasassi caves – one of the biggest cave systems in Europe. High above the caves, in the little village of Pierosara, you’ll find Da Maria (http://www.ristorantemaria.com), where the cooking is excellent.
Continue on through the caves (comune of Genga), onto the superstrada for a short hop, and get off at Serra San Quirico. On the road leading up the hill, out of town, is Da Raul, my hands-down favorite in all of central Marche. Raul is a forager, and you’ll find seasonal contorni on his menu. Much of the rest of the menu doesn’t change, but everything is superb.
Going west Pergola, be sure to check out the lovely town of Cagli. Home to the salumi festival Distinti Salumi (looks like you’ll just miss it – early May every (now) two years), it has a number of very good restaurants. I like La Giocanda (http://www.ristorantelagioconda.it) (Mona Lisa to non-Italians). Last time I was there they were offering pata negra, a rarity in these parts.
East of Cagli, is Aqualagna, major truffle country. While in the area, check out Furlo. While it does claim a rather stuffy and inefficient Michelin * restaurant, grab a panino from the bar next door, housed in an inn where Mussolini used to spend his summers and cook tagliatelle for his entourage. Check out the dining room next door, which is like a museum, kept in 1930s style with Fascist slogans on the walls. Then, be sure to drive through the old Roman Furlo Pass. Mussolini’s profile was carved into the rocks above and has a bit of history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furlo_Pass).
West of Cagli there’s also Martinelli in Apecchio (http://www.2spaghi.it/ristoranti/marche/pu/apecchio/ristorante-bar-martinelli/). I haven’t been, but a friend just ate there under a lunch organised by the informal Senigallia group Amici del maiale (Friends of the Pig) and said it was great (polenta with venison ragù, tripe, lamb liver).
If you head east from Pergola, the next town you’ll hit is San Lorenzo in Campo. Check out the “Farroteca” Monterosso (http://www.farrotecamonterosso.it/homepage.htm) for great farro products. They have a restaurant, but IIRC it may be only for private parties.
For wine, head south from San Lorenzo (direction Jesi). You’ll enter prime Verdicchio (white) and Lacrima di Morro d’Alba (red) territory. One cantina worth a stop is Moncaro (http://www.moncaro.com/tenuta_A.cfm?lang=eng), whose wines have won a number of awards. If you’re up for it, continue on to Jesi and hit the Regional Enoteca of Marche, which seeks to feature all Marche vintners. The website says 400 labels, but I think there are more (http://www.comune.jesi.an.it/opencms/...). Note that the enoteca opens at 5 PM.
Feel free to post if you have any questions, but since you’re staying with locals, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of recommendations.
Thanks! You've surpassed my boldest hopes for quality local info. My "locals" are Americans who've recently purchased a small apartment in Pergola, where they live part-time, so they're still in the early stages of discovering the area ... I'll be forwarding this info to them.
Please let your friends know that a friend of ours has organised an expat lunch at a local trattoria for this Sunday, April 15. There'll be at least four of us Americans there, plus assorted Italians. Have them contact me at http://www.swrl-lab.com for info, if they're interested.
Hope this doesn't get deleted....
Ciao - I think I know your friends! My husband & I have an inn & cooking school not far from Urbino - tell them Hi for me! I would love to suggest a wine tour & day with Marco from Marco' s Way (http://www.marcosway.it
)He is fantastic not only do we suggest him to all our guests, but trip & tasting with Marco is how we've discovered the wine we serve & drink at our farmhouse. It's about 125 Euro for the day depending on the tour you choose & worth every penny. He will pick you up & take you to a handful of local family run wineries, lunch & transportation. Don't just take my suggestion - if you want check out his great reviews on TripAdvisor as well.
All the best, Ashley
In Urbino try osteria da la stella
in Fermignano I second the suggestion you received: Trattosteria
You should not miss Osteria del cucco in Urbania and a newish place in Cagli called Osteria da Nani serving very good organic local food.
Also in Cagli for lunch, aperitivo or buying some great cheeses, wines and much more go to Alimentare.
Enjoy your stay!