It was a long day. We’re a bit old for five hour drives! Alessandro was at the house to meet us as was his brother Andrea. The ‘house’ was actually two units each composing three apartments. It was lovely. The setting was stunning. We were only a few minutes from a couple of villages with all the amenities we could want.
Perched on the hill in the distance was the ancient walled city of Urbino. This would be our first destination. John had read that we could park close to a lift which would take us into the old town. Well, close enough. It’s on the top of a hill. We had to climb. We made a decision to take the tourist train to get an overview. Good move. The tractor/train struggled to go up and down some of those streets. We knew where not to go.
It’s a university town and has been since 1506. The academic year had recently started, and the excitement of new adventures and new friendships was palpable. A state-run university since 2002 with about 14000 students mostly from overseas, the focus of the university is on the humanities and it prides itself on the quality of the Italian language courses it offers.
The Plazzo Ducale is a spectacular Renaissance building and one of the most important monuments in Italy. It houses a significant collection of Renaissance art including works by Raffaello Santi (Raphael) who was born here. Urbino was a ‘designed’ city and John and I were intrigued that in 1480 architects were considering the notion of Città Ideale- an ideal city.
Next we had to leave the country. Well not so much ‘leave’ but go to another one… sorry…San Marino is an independent country and it was about an hour from the country house. They use the Euro, there is no tax on goods and they have their own police. It became independent from the Roman Empire in 301 and has had a Constitution since 1600. We had lunch in the clouds and spent a bomb! I bought perfume and John a coat. We will be in the Dolomites in a week. He needed a coat.
Alessandro had recommended a bike ride along the beach from Pesaro to Fano where we could lunch at a typical seafood restaurant. Nobody could ask for a better host. He was most obliging. He sent us details of where the bike shop was and the name of the restaurant. He was attentive to all our needs. At one stage I asked for an espresso coffee maker (I was travelling with my own coffee…tragic..I know!). That day the moka (the Italian name) turned up with a bag of Lavazza- along with a little crate of vegetables from his mum’s garden. Along with Andrea’s bottle of exquisite red wine, we were feeling very spoilt. Despite having to go to Asia on business, he continued to stay in touch. He and his wife, Sara have created a little piece of paradise for their guests. Every care has been taken to reflect Italian quality. Everything is ‘Made in Italy’. They are rightly proud of the skill, the design and the quality of goods they have chosen to put into the apartments- Lighting by Floss, fridge by Smeg, linen by Somma, furniture by Kartell, cabinetry by ernestomeda (his company), Moneta pots and pans,…everything with the ‘Made in Italy’ stamp.
Marche is a very beautiful area of Italy and I’m pleased we made the decision to explore, even if it was just a taste.