“La Tela”, the place for fabrics, sewing and fashion

Macerata is famous for Matteo Ricci, first non Chinese to translate the Bible in mandarin chinese in the 1500’s, or also, it’s maybe barely known as birthplace for several other characters in the 20th century, from politics to art, all the way to Opera, which is held yearly in awesome Macerata’s Sferisterio. But now, who knows Macerata for its precious “Museo della Tessitura” (Museum of Sewing)? Not as few as you might think, in fact. “La tela” is indeed a must for many handcraft experts in the region and beyond, especially people with a passion for fashion.

These 2 women running the little museum have been working here for more than 20 years and their activity has grown to provide fabrics for reknowned haute couture companies to be used in fashion shows in Milan and Paris. Their museum, which is also a sewing laboratory, is really a place to visit if you make it to Macerata. Here you can find more info: http://www.latela.net/

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San Severino Marche, where the 13th century is still alive

San Severino Marche, a town you might never visit.. AND IT WOULD BE SUCH A BAD LUCK!

I have rarely seen a more charming medieval place than San Severino. Honestly, I had no idea.. I just wanted to go eat in this very good (and very cheap) locanda on the outskirts of the town.. Antico Oliveto is called I think (I’ll give you more info if you need it). But hey, there is not just food, right? Especially when the restaurant is all filled and you have to explore the town to deserve the food.

Now, the lower part of town is very nice, with the egg-shaped main square and the impressive buildings.. this place must have been quite powerful in the past. I read San Severino was always fighting with Camerino, the first being “ghibellino” and the latter a stronghold of the Vatican. However, I have to say, despite the great view in Camerino, San Severino is by far more beautiful. Instead of being a dark, religious mountain town like Camerino, San Severino is more bright, square. If Camerino reminded me of the 1500’s or the Inquisition (maybe because there is a quite important provincial prison there.. in a former church), San Severino is more like the 1200’s, the beginning of the end of Medieval time, the time of the first Universities, but also of crusades (amazing fresco on the theme in San Severino).

One of the few important events in San Severino today is the Biennale of Umorismo, dedicated to satirical vignettes and drawings. But seriously, if you make it to San Severino don’t just stick in the lower part of the town but do make sure to walk up to the tower and visit the amazingly beautiful Castello al Monte. It’s basically a whole village hidden from the view, intact walls all around and a small vibrant community living in it. Quite impressive really. Once you made it on the top, where the monastery and the tower are, you have to go down to the village and then I’d suggest follow the walls to the right, until you find an entrance arch. Make a few more steps and be careful.. you will pass by a little door leading to a court. There you will see a portal that seems to come out of The name of the rose by Umberto Eco.. it’s so freakingly intense really.

If you add to this the fact that there’s virtually no tourism around here.. well, it makes it all the better. Imagine visiting a 13th century crypt with frescoes so modern and engaging to take out your breadth.. then try the acoustic by singing or even simply speaking. Priceless. And trust me, these are just a few of the experiences I’ve had in San Severino a couple of weeks ago. A place I would recommend anybody thinks that Italy is just about Tuscany, Sicily, Milan, Rome and Naples. The little, unknown San Severino Marche kicks ass!

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Camerino, Machiavelli and.. Napoleon. Meanders of history on top of a hill.

First of all, thanks for following the blog. “Ancona war cemetery” provoked several feedbacks from around the world, so that makes me want to go on for sure with my idea about setting up an exhibit on the war memorial stories..

As for today, let’s go to Camerino, which is famous for its pharmacy University, its location surrounded by mountains and its glorious history. Despite being a very small town, Camerino was home to a very important noble family, that of Varano, which controlled most of this area between Umbria and Marche. It might seem very isolated, but if you consider how long it took to travel back in the middle ages, keeping the region safe was all but easy. If you add to this that this was one of the main roads connecting Loreto (home to pilgrimages since 1200’s) and Rome, well then you might understand why the Varano dynasty managed to stay very rich and powerful for centuries. That’s why if you travel around the “marca di Camerino” you will see a lot of ruins and castles, which mark the territory once ruled by the Varano family. Their period of glory ended with the invasion of Cesare Borgia, also known as Duca Valentino, of whom you can read extensively in Machiavelli’s “The prince”. Obviously, as in other cases, he killed them all and that’s how the middle ages ended in Camerino.. However, descendants of the family can be traced back for sure until the 1800’s when one of them got married to a member of the Bonaparte’s family in Ascoli Piceno, where part of Napoleon’s family was rooted.. and no, it’s not a legend, you will see in next posts..

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2012, the year of the snow in Marche

Sometimes people think of Italy as some exotic place, stuck in time, where everything is old and the sun always shines.. well, not this winter! At least not in the Adriatic coast, where it snowed with no interruption for 2 weeks. Something no one has ever seen around here. The only comparison available is with 1956, when it also snowed a lot, but not for so long.. Funny enough, it snowed more in Marche (so far) than on the Alps.. in fact, it has created great damages and quite a few victims, as we’re not so used to such weather around here. So I guess, if you want to visit Marche and you expect to see the sun and enjoy the weather, you’d better come in spring-summer-autumn, just so to make sure.

In the picture, you can see one of the main streets of Macerata, a town that’s quite used to the snow, but the man walking on the boulevard there could not expect that there would be 2 weeks more of snow ahead.

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Sant’Angelo in Pontano

I think Sant’Angelo in Pontano is probably one of the least visited places in Marche, which is one of the least visited places in Italy.. it figures!

Yet, many here heard the name of this town, either because of its longstanding presepe tradition, or because of San Nicola from Tolentino who lived also here. We are indeed in the land of San Nicola, to whom are dedicated many churches in the area. See more here.

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A dear friend of mine, photographer Roberto Bonfigli (a big Nikon fan), has a little house there in Sant’Angelo, so we went several times. Lucky chance, because the rural area is beautiful and the colors of towns and hills around there are truly amazing. Also, clean air and silence make it a real worthy place to visit, especially if you know where to eat and where to have a siesta afterward and maybe a talk with a nice artist/farmer like Roberto.

If you want to read more about Roberto’s farm in Sant’Angelo in Pontano, read Zero The One.

The roads to Ancona (from Macerata) are endless

What I love the most about Marche is that you can always be on the road to a next town. There is always a next town somewhere, very near. Not only, the paths you can take are virtually endless. For example, I have been living in Macerata for about 1 year, and I managed to find 6-7 alternate ways to go to Ancona from here. The picture above was taken along one such path (in fact, the path I don’t take anymore because it takes a little bit longer). Basically, I have become an expert on shortcuts between Macerata and Ancona =)

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In the slideshow you can see Catherine, who came to visit us from Baltimore, Usa last Christmas. It’s certainly not the best weather, but it’s perfect if you like to check out Catholic related events such as Presepe Vivente, the living scene of the Nativity, taking place in many little towns scattered around Marche. It usually takes place on december 26th and january 6th.

Tolentino, a little Assisi in Marche

Tolentino, province of Macerata, lies on the way to the ancient Varano lands, bordering with Umbria. Today, it is home to an amazing church dedicated to a very famous saint, San Nicola da Tolentino. A masterpiece by the school of Pietro da Rimini, it reminds a lot the celebrated “blue” by Giotto, an amazing painter who worked all around central Italy. In fact, these frescoes look very much alike the much more known ones in Assisi, town of San Francesco.

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