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A sideways look at Italian - Marchegiani - bars and caffes
Do you have an ideal caffé-bar? Do you visualize yourself sitting comfortably in a beautiful piazza, with a charming waiter/ress, watching the world go past, sipping a delicious strong coffee, or maybe a freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice, or a chilled prosecco? Well, bad luck, you’re not Italian and you are certainly not a Marchigiano.
Italians like lots of different sorts of bars. They do like smart bars of the kind I have described, and there are some good ones in Le Marche – the Caffe Meletti (enjoy the quaint “English” or click on the tricolore) in Ascoli Piceno, for instance, or the Caffe Meridiano, also in Senigallia, or the Caffe del Duca in Mondavio. You can get virtually a free meal in some bars with the delicious free stuzzichini, or nibbles. (They are fantastic in Sicily, and the bar opposite the duomo in Modena does very good ones too.) Marcheshire is good , and the Caffe Meridiano. Italians also like neighbourhood caffe-bars – somewhere in a fairly quiet street where the children can go by themselves for an ice cream (an ice lolly, ghiacciolo, is fine, it doesn’t have to be scooped out of a metal container in a special refrigerated counter) , or men can have a drink while their wives prepare a meal, or women can meet for a chat. They don’t mind if the bars are small and dark with uncomfortable plastic chairs, or if the first thing that meets the eye is a stand of Chiclets or potato crisps. That’s the sort of thing you might want to buy in a caffe-bar. Freshly squeezed fruit juice is expensive anyway, so why waste your money? And they don’t exactly like, but need, pit stops for workers where they can fill up on caffeine. (The coffee is always good,wherever you are.) Teenagers like somewhere with tolerant staff where they can hang out after school. Men like a bar where they can be on their own without women and talk about sport. Read Stefano Benni’s Bar Sport (link to Italian version). Italians don’t mind if the bar staff are sullen or fake deferential with other people – they know the staff anyway, or if they are birds of passage it doesn’t matter. I’ll never forget the bored waiter in Fabriano saying “Desidera?” or the barmaid in Marotta who was obviously annoyed that strangers had come into her bar. So be prepared, especially if you are visiting a small hilltown where the centre is fairly quiet anyway…
Mondavio, Le Marche by Fran Atopos
Mondavio’s castle is preserved very well, and it also contains a wax museum, where late medieval scenes are reproduced in a perfect setting. We are again in the area of Machiavelli’s “The prince”, not far from Montefeltro, the region of Urbino, where Raphael was born. Mondavio is a perfect location, as it is equally distant to the sea and to the mountains, just across Ancona’s province. In 1462 this place saw its greatest battle, between the Malatesta family, ruling over the coastline between today’s Marche and Emilia-Romagna, and the Vatican-backed Montefeltro family from Urbino, which controlled an area across Marche and Umbria. The Vatican won, and Mondavio was given to the Della Rovere family, which had connected with the Montefeltro, whose Guidobaldo was however attacked by “Il Valentino”, Machiavelli’s infamous “prince”. With the end of the Della Rovere dynasty, Mondavio became officially under the jurisdiction of the Vatican, which kept it so until the unity of Italy.
I really never use this as a personal blog, but since today is an important day… Tutto NOT ok! It’s our last day in Mondavio today… :’( I can’t believe how fast time has gone! I am so grateful for this experience. I will miss this place and all of the incredible people I’ve met here so much.