Whenever you get a chance to explore a new area, ignore the glittery postcards, the guide books and head for the back roads. Of course a car is essential to get you away from the main tourist sights and onto the those little narrow roads that reveal surprises and amazing sights around every corner. This is a 40 km route in La Marche that is a little gem of a journey that takes in a collection of hidden treasures for the intrepid traveller.
The route runs along the ridges from west to east, south of Urbino nd ends in the foothills of the high hills and mountainds of Italy’s central spine. Beautiful country spreads out on both sides of the road, rolling away to the distant horizon in folds.
This is enough, in itself, to take one’s breath away but wait until you stop at some the places along the way. Ostra Vetere is a sign of things to come when it appears in the distance above the farmland with its medieval facade becoming larger and then falling away behind me as I drive past.
I am heading for Corinaldo to start my little tour. The only sign that this place is about to give up its wedding cake secrets is the large fortified gate in the middle of town. Through the arch round the corner and there is the medieval escalator of stone steps to take punters into the heart of this pretty, peaceful place and, yes, a wedding has taken place and the happy couple pose in front of this romantic backdrop, snapped by cameras and a whirring drone. The only other people here are a scattering of folk finishing their lunch in snug little terrace restaurants.
Mondavio sounds l like the country from a Marx Brothers’ film. It doesn’t look that impressive from a distance. Up close and intimate it becomes a set for Game of Thrones, not that I’ve seen a single episode.
A cobbled-streeted villages with its 12th century church merges with its main protector with a moated 13th century castle, all made from bricks. They must have needed millions and millions and so clever. The fortifications curve and flow around the town, the lines built to. presumably divert cannon balls along their contoured fronts.
San Lorenzo in Campo is an small, charming, ordinary town. We hit it later afternoon a the locals chatter in their favourite patches of shade.
This lot thought it hilarious that their 2-stroke road-friendly, three-wheeled, vans were the focus for us visitors. I asked them to pose with their vans and they agreed with great hilarity all round.
To be continued.