Tuesday, August 01, 2006

CIVITANOVA MARCHE ALTA: Charming sites at the high point

THERE ARE TWO different parts of Civitanova Marche: the urban, seaport city and the medieval mountaintop village.

The lower portion, the seaport, is an ugly industrial area full of buildings covered in black soot. The city is said to be the place to buy leather goods, especially shoes, but I wouldn't spend much time there. Most of the town was completely destroyed during World War II and the place has been rebuilt for function, not style.

The medieval mountaintop village, a few kilometers inland, retains a certain charm.

You can climb the 14th century walls and look out at the Adriatic Sea from this isolated little hill, the only high ground for several kilometers. The steep streets lead to a central piazza that features a handful of cafes and the stoic-looking San Paolo church.

When we arrived, a few dozen people were anxiously waiting for a wedding to begin. Large, bright yellow sunflowers lined the aisle and the altar of the old church.

Just before 5:00 pm, the guy on the right side of the photo - who has a shaved top of his head but a long mullett and pork chop sideburns - rode into the square on a Harley, screaming that the bride was coming. His gruff voice was barely audible over the roar of the engine.

Then he parked his shiny hog in the walkway in front of the church.

When the bride's limousine finally navigated the narrow, crowded streets and approached the church, the bride - dressed in a modest cream-colored dress - had to walk around the motorcycle.

It was all so romantic.

The crowd lingered outside for a good while after the bride (in the center of the photo) marched down the aisle.

And in classic Italian form, the Harley-riding announcer walked away from the church altogether to have a smoke and talk on his cell phone before the ceremony officially started.

- G. Miller


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