Sand and Snow on New Year’s Day

From the beach to the mountains in an afternoon – Only in Le Marche!

Here is a brain teaser: is it possible to stroll on the beach in the afternoon and, an hour or so later, be up in the mountains walking in the snow, tasting delicious regional salami and cheese?

The answer is yes and, more precisely, the answer is Le Marche.

In Italy, we have a saying that you are likely to experience during the year what you experience on the first day. So on New Year’s Day 2012, we decided we wanted a good mix of emotions. (Although we were also determined to walk off the guilt created by the considerable consumption of calories over Christmas…and we ended up eating cheese and salami!)

So straight after a good lie in (necessary after the NYE revelries) we looked out and saw a fantastic day outside (overlooking the chill factor temperature, which reminded us that it was January). A clear sky and the sun shining on the city, what a great way to start the year!

After saying good bye to Ancona we headed South, making time for a quick stop in Portonovo. It was strange, but fascinating, to visit the lively summer hangout, on a cool, clear day in January.

If you are local and you are a regular visitor in the Summer, you would have spotted something strange, as the sun only hit the tower (Torre De Bosis) and the cliff, but missed the beach, which is usually full of sun worshippers in the Summer months.

It was time to head for the mountains, towards the National Park of “Monti Sibillini”. While driving and sharing our new year’s resolutions (such as not eating too much salami!), the countryside with its wonderful Winter colours came into view; hills, fields and a few wispy white clouds were following one another, as we moved away from Ancona and the coast, gaining height.

It only took around one hour driving to Frontignano; by the time we got there the sun was setting, shedding a mix of pink and orange reflections on the rocks surrounding Ussita.

We decided to try to make it to the top, to enjoy the sunset and the view of the valley. While we were climbing up, just for a moment, the reflection of the snow and the openness of the landscape gave us the impression that it was sunrise.

We got to the peak in time to view an astonishing sunset and greet a snowman we met on our way down. With hungry bellies, it was time to grab some cheese and local products at the Christmas market in Ussita!

Now our good intentions for 2012 started creaking seriously, as we saw and smelt the local home-made cheeses. Soft or hard, young or mature flavoured with walnut, pepper, or saffron. “Let’s just buy some, but promise that we will not eat them until after a few days!”…

Time for a stroll around the centre of Visso, another village nearby, a pretty old town perched in between the mountains, with narrow streets and perfectly refurbished houses and palaces.

Suddenly it was dinner time and walking around and chatting had made our new year propositions weaker and weaker, someone said ‘let’s just have a snack!’

It was a great conclusion to a brilliant day and a perfect start to the New Year. Tasting authentic Marche products washed down with a nice glass of Rosso Conero, one of the most popular red wines from Marche, of which we will soon tell you more about!

Happy New Year From Made In Marche! Here’s to 2012!!

Recanati; City Of Poetry.

Recanati is a small town and ‘commune’ in the Province of Macerata, in the Marche region, founded around 1150 AD on top of a hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This town is a hidden jewel, with its pretty maze of narrow streets surrounded by beautiful, historic buildings and churches and a fabulous, panoramic view of the countryside, the sea and the mountains.

 

 

 

 

Recanati is also a cultural town and hometown of tenor Beniamino Gigli [1890-1957] and one of the most popular Italian poets, Giacomo Leopardi [1798-1837], which is why the town is also known to some as “the city of poetry”. Indeed it is still possible to visit ‘Casa Leopardi’, the poet’s house, where he used to live and composed his most popular pieces of poetry. His progeny still live there and make sure that the authentic settings and spirit of the house remain.

Just in front of the house is a small, beautiful square which is the setting of one of Leopardi’s famous poems, ‘Il Sabato del Villaggio’ (Saturday Night At The Village). Down a few metres from here, you will get to the ‘Colle dell’Infinito’ (Hill of Infinity), the edge of the hill where the poet composed his popular poem ‘L’Infinito’ (The Infinity). In this great piece of work, Leopardi is inspired by the incredible view, only partially limited by a bush, which makes it possible to imagine anything behind it; It is an emotional journey through space and time infinity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translating such a piece of poetry would be an unforgivable sin. Please enjoy it in Italian below. And if you wish, listen to Dustin Hoffman acting the poem in this short video made by the Marche Bureau of Tourism, which also highlights the beautiful landscape of the region.

 

Sempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle,

e questa siepe, che da tanta parte

dell’ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.

Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati

spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani

silenzi, e profondissima quïete

io nel pensier mi fingo, ove per poco

il cor non si spaura. E come il vento

odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello

infinito silenzio a questa voce

vo comparando: e mi sovvien l’eterno,

e le morte stagioni, e la presente

e viva, e il suon di lei. Così tra questa

immensità s’annega il pensier mio:

e il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.

Making My Own Wine In Marche

I have always had mixed feelings about port towns, they don’t always have a great reputation so I was interested to go and have a look for myself when an Italian friend, Marco, kept insisting that Ancona (which is in the region called Marche) is a beautiful old harbour and deserves more visitors.

I took a budget flight and on arrival at the airport I was greeted with a cold beer and a Parma ham sandwich and things were off to a good start,

it got even better when we stopped at a beautiful local restaurant on the way to our accommodation. We were advised by our host to try pasta made with local mussels, washed down with a carafe of fresh local Verdicchio wine. The recommendation didn’t disappoint, the Adriatic’s shallow waters produce famous seafood and the pasta was perfectly complimented by the well-balanced wine which had hints of lemon and almond, Verdicchio is a Marche speciality.

We were staying at a picturesque vineyard and our host was a friendly chap called Matteo – he was happy to show us around his vineyard explaining which grapes he was growing (as well as wheat and honey), his plans for the future, some of the problems he encounters and what makes a great vintage.

Next it was our chance to make our own wine. A group of Marco’s friends joined us and accompanied by a wine expert we started by trying various combinations of vintages to see what we wanted to make. We agreed on a combination that we all liked and then got to know each other as well as how wine is made while blending the wine, inserting corks, adding foil, designing and adding labels, we called the wine my Oinos (Oinos being the ancient Greek work for wine, which reminds of the Greek roots of the town). This amazing day ended with us drinking our own wine and having a B-B-Q together, it was a great bonding experience.

Over the next few days I visited some local wineries where we were warmly greeted and encouraged to try the produce. The local red is called ‘Rosso Conero’, like many Italian wines it is based on the Montepulciano grape (it must be at least 85% Montepulciano), I hadn’t tried it before but soon realised that it is excellent, complex, full bodied wine – it doesn’t have the name of a wine like Chianti but because it’s not mass produced the quality is high. This was a good chance to buy some more wine to ship back (I was already taking home a case of the wine that I had made).

I also had the chance to visit the town which is full of glorious historic buildings as well as gelateria’s selling the best ice-cream in the world and small trattorias (traditional restaurants)
serving mainly delicious pizza, pasta and seafood. We also visited some beautiful beaches and I had the opportunity to see the stunning countryside full of vineyards and olive groves, we had a walk up Mount Conero and on the last night we ate fresh fried fish at a festival of the sea hosted by local fishermen.

Marco was right! Ancona has a lot to offer and I will be back there soon to make some more wine, lay on the beach and eat great food!

I hope you enjoy the short video below that captured the experience of making my own wine in Marche.

Making ‘My Oinos’ in Marche

We recently hosted a group of friends in Ancona, a historic port city in the Marche region.

As well as taking in the sights and sounds of the old town, soaking up the sun on the beach, enjoying fabulous seafood and delicious Italian ice-cream; we made a special limited edition wine which we blended, designed the lable, bottled, corked and called ‘My Oinos’ (Oinos being the old Greek term for wine).

We hope that you enjoy the short video we have produced to capture our experience.

The ‘Podos’ story

Ancona, a hidden gem perched on a stretch of elbow-shaped coast dropping into the Adriatic sea. Surrounded by rolling, beautiful countryside and crowned with the impressive Monte Conero.

This story begins here, in the shadow of Monte Conero, in the heart of the Marche region. It is the story of blending the countryside way of life with the modern pleasure of tasting a handmade glass of wine; considered today, more than ever, a noble and precious product. It is the story of a group of friends, who decided to share an exclusive experience in traditional settings enjoying themselves while promoting the Marche ‘brand’.

This is where ‘Podos’ came from, a wine making experience with friends. The name ‘Podus’ comes from the ancient Greek ‘pous-podos’, which means ‘feet’ and reminds of the Greek roots of this land and the handicraft nature of the product. Feet are used to crush the grapes.

Wine making is an adventure that leads you back to simplicity of ‘being together’, in contact with nature and making something tangible. Slowly, you start savouring and appreciating the value of a simple, timeless product, which is at the same time rich and sophisticated.

The various blends were tasted and a favourite chosen, corks were put in place, labels designed, a blowtorch was used to shrink the foil into place. We became a slick well-oiled team as we tool pride in producing our wine.

The passion for wine and the invaluable experience of ancient techniques add to the delight of opening your own bottle of wine.

From the grape to the table, an unforgettable journey through values and traditions; much more than just a simple glass of wine and an experience that won’t be forgotten by any of those involved in making our own Rosso Conero wine.