Ever heard of Senigallia? Me neither. Until last summer that is. As it turns out, it’s one of the most popular sea-side resort towns on the Italian side of Adriatic coast in the region of Le Marche. It’s where masses of Italian families spend their beach holiday. I was shocked by the sheer size, i.e. length of it.
The coastal road separates the endless line of concrete blocks of unattractive hotels from a similarly endless belt of grey sandy beach, dotted with crammed umbrellas and sun beds. Where the somewhat narrow beach borders the edge of the road, there are ice-cream parlours, restaurants, bars, loud music, shops. And so it goes for kilometres. Literally. I believe I read somewhere it’s about 13 km. Day in day out throughout summer months apparently. From the early morning till late at night.
It’s clearly no place for a traveller looking for elegance, subtlety, gracefulness. But turn inland, only a few kilometres away from the popular coast another world awaits. There are tender hills, green, silver, golden, thousands of sunflowers, olive trees, manicured front gardens and peace and quiet of the countryside.
This is where we discovered a little peace of heaven on Earth when exhausted after hundreds of kilometres on Italian autostrade we decided to pull over for the night. It was a long drive from Apulia through Molise and Abruzzo to Le Marche, the latter three being the regions of Italy unknown to us. That was last summer when we were driving back home after stupendous holiday in Apulia.
We found the wonderful little family run hotel Il Gallo Senone through random web search when we stopped for a short break at the rest station somewhere near Ancona, the capital of Le Marche. It looked respectable, tidy (a bit too good to be true, we thought, but were too tired to actually question our choice) and there was a free room for the night, the last one as it turned out.
The proprietors Simona and Matteo built their gem on a low hill amidst the fields of sunflowers. It’s spectacular when you wake up in the morning and open the window or step out on the garden and you find yourself surrounded by millions of golden sunflowers covering almost every slope in vicinity (we were there at the end of July). Within the property there is an olive tree grove and also a charming kitchen garden. Matteo is a chef at Ristorante da Carmen down in Senigallia where you can, despite its notoriety, have a very decent fish based meal. Matteo is careful to imply local traditions while preparing his dishes but keeping it modern at the same time.
Since our first ever glimpse of Le Marche we have it in our minds to return and explore. Of course, we’ve heard about Ancona and the papal Urbino but what about Recanati or Pesaro? What about the coriander honey I brought home from the place? Thankfully we had just enough space left in our bags to pack the small jar of that special miele. What about Giacomo Leopardi, the great Italian poet, Gioachino Rossini, the great composer, and Maria Montessori, the educational scientist? They were all born here. Mr Rossini was a keen cook and entertainer; the most known dish being named after him is Tournedos Rossini. No doubt he was a gourmand. The region of Le Marche must be full of delights.