Wednesday, August 23, 2006


LE MARCHE IS A fascinating place - with vast fields of farmland and huge, sprawling cities.

You will find modern glass buildings standing next to ancient Roman structures. There are beautiful stretches of beach front and massive, towering mountains.

You can dine in famous four-star restaurants or have an incredible meal cooked in a family home.

And we experienced it all.

At least, we tried to.

Browse through our site and learn about our experiences. Find interesting places to see and fun things to do.

Learn about Le Marche.

The information on this blogsite will be made into a book, available most likely this coming winter. Stay tuned for more details.

If you have any questions about our stories, if you want to tell us how much you appreciate our work or if you want to get involved next year, contact us:

Andrew Ciofalo (the program director) -

George Miller (Editor) -

Philly Petronis -

Ann Curran -

Caitlyn Slivinski -

Berit Baugher -


WE STARTED THE DAY by climbing the tower of the well-preserved medieval castle in Offagna and then drove to Jesi for lunch.

Of course, Jesi was essentially closed because of pausa (Italian siesta), so as soon as we finished our midday meals we dashed off to a vineyard in nearby Morro D’Alba.

The vineyard was a real treat – air condition and free wine. Nothing could have been better on a blazing summer day. We stayed for nearly three hours and then drove to Senigallia to meet a friend for drinks.

Well, drinks turned into dinner, which lead to a long stroll on the beach, and by the time we returned to our base camp (after driving in circles for a while when we got lost), a15-hour day had elapsed.

Then we ventured out on a similar journey the next day.

It was exhausting.

A few days after those marathon adventures, Philly posed an interesting question to the group, “Why do you like to travel?”

It was a valid query and one that seems to carry even more weight now – in this age of global terrorism, in an era when getting anywhere by plane is anything but simple and convenient and getting anywhere by car will cost you a month’s mortgage payment.

Why would you want to leave your comfortable home to wait in line for hours at airport security, then sleep in a hotel of questionable repute, eat all of your meals at unknown restaurants and waste a tank of gas driving around some city you’re visiting because it looked good in some glossy magazine?

It’s not like it’s cheap or anything. And in many parts of the world, like here in Italy, most people don’t even speak English.

Yet we all vacation and travel to some extent, whether it’s down the shore, across the country or around the world. We travel to get away from the daily grind, to forget about our everyday existences, to leave the cell phones behind and ignore the e-mail.

I find traveling to be even more rewarding, beyond simple escapism.

My answer to the Philly’s question was, “I like to travel because I want to know everything about everything.”

I want to know why Italian stores close all afternoon. I want to know why there are rocks on roofs of homes there. I want to know why there are so many castles in such close proximity of each other. I want to know why the wine in Le Marche has a higher alcohol content than most other places.

I want to know how life is different somewhere else and why.

From the top of the tower in Offagna, we could see Osimo, Loreto and Castelfidardo, three other fortress-like cities perched on different hills in different directions, separated only by a few kilometers. The castle towns, we learn, were established during the Middle Ages as a ring of protection for the primary city of the region, Ancona, which has the Adriatic Sea on its other flank.

The salty air wafting in off the Adriatic Sea cools the grapes that grow in Le Marche but it is the blistering Italian sun that gives them their intensity. The copious quantity of sunshine helps ripen the grapes and increases their sugar content. The high sugar levels make for higher alcohol percentages in the region’s wines.

The hot sun is also the reason why Italians close shop in the afternoons. Most people arrive early for work, then close at 12:30 for afternoon “pausa,” and then re-open around 4. In towns closer to the sea or further down the peninsula, the shops may not re-open until 5 or 5:30. Then people stay at work until 7 or 8.

It is just too hot to do anything during the midday hours. Outside of the larger cities, much of Italy is a ghost town on hot summer afternoons.

The winds can really pick up in Italy, with currents blowing in from both the Mediterranean and the Adriatic seas. A good gust will blow the orange, baked-brick tiles right off a person’s home.

Unless you set some heavy rocks on top of them, that is.

During dinner in Senigallia, Philly sighed and then lamented, “I miss big coffee.”

In Italy, even the largest serving of coffee is less than one-third the size of the average Starbucks variety.

“It’s terrible, the American coffee,” our friend, Carlo Cleri, replied.

Cleri, who is an organizer of the local Slow Foods chapter in Italy, then proclaimed, “I hate Coke, too.”

And the girls gasped as though he had just burned an American flag.

“Slow food means the opposite of fast food,” Cleri explained. “In food, you can find history, culture.”

There are thousands of food products in Italy – from meats and cheeses to wines – that are only produced in small pockets of the country … and nowhere else in the world.

“We think diversity makes everything better,” Cleri said.

It is also the best reason to travel.

- G. Miller

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

THE FLIGHT HOME: Beauty in the breakdown

FROM MY TRIP TO ITALY, I’ve learned two things about traveling: there’s no place like home when you finally want to get there, and sometimes it’s okay to loosen the purse strings (and your vocal cords).

Berit and I began talking about leaving a day before it was scheduled to happen.

“It’s so close…if we were staying for another week, that would be one thing, but we’re leaving tomorrow. I’m ready to go.” Berit explained to me over lunch the afternoon before our planned departure.

I wholeheartedly agreed with her rationale. By the end of the trip, I felt like I was killing time. I could no longer plan a weekend in Croatia or Rome or even spend the night at a nearby beach. There were things – deadlines, farewell parties, goodbyes – holding us in one place.

Like Berit, I was ready to go.

Berit and I awoke at 4:30 on a muggy Saturday morning to leave for the airport. Our flight left Ancona at 6:45 and landed in Milan at 8. We were scheduled to leave Milan and fly to Amsterdam, then leave Amsterdam for John F. Kennedy airport, bringing us home by 3:30 New York time. Berit and I had booked the same three-stop flight by chance and for the same reason: to save an extra 200 dollars rather than booking a direct flight.

We left Ancona on time and both slept the entire way. We arrived in Milan as scheduled, easily found our gate for the next flight, and even managed to buy some chocolate treats for loved ones.

So far, our trip was off to a good (and stress-free) start.

What happened next can only be described as a nightmare.

We boarded the AlItalia plane and weren’t exactly surprised to find out that we weren’t sitting next to each other, just disappointed. I threw myself into a Hello! Magazine, studying Mickey Rooney’s girlfriend’s drunken antics like there was going to be a test later and waited for take-off.

After more than forty-five minutes of the plane being completely immobile, it finally started to move. The plane circled the runway twice before the captain came over the loudspeaker and announced something in Italian. I watched the other passenger’s reactions to try and figure out what he said. There was eye-rolling and teeth grinding, but nothing too outrageous, and I figured since no one was exiting the plane, the scenario couldn’t be too bad.

Then, from a few rows back, I heard a high pitch scream. Several other passengers and I averted our attention toward the back of the plane, where a woman was trudging down the aisle ahead of two stewardesses who were trying to calm her down. “Tranquity,” they whispered quietly as the woman stormed on. I glanced around nervously. No one seemed to have any clue what was going on. I felt butterflies begin to flutter in my stomach.

The plane started moving again, this time, I noticed, without the hysterical woman in her seat. I took several deep breaths, trying to ignore the couple next to me who were chanting some spiritual chant in an attempt, I’m guessing, to calm their own nerves.

The plane moved at top speed for less than ten seconds before stopping. The pilot came over the loudspeaker once again, and this time his announcement made all the passengers began grabbing their luggage and exiting the plane.

After finding Berit, together we realized that there was almost no possible way we were to going to land in Amsterdam in time to make our connecting flight. Panic sunk in.

We waited on several different hour-long lines before getting any real answers. Every time we thought we were getting somewhere, we were instructed to change lines again. Over the next seven hours, Berit and I met an Italian couple traveling to the United States for their honeymoon, a Canadian couple who was told that AlItalia only flew to Calgary (their destination) once a week, and a Puerto Rican woman with three kids who had been stuck in the airport for three days. It was comforting to know that we weren’t the only ones going through this breakdown.

Within minutes of being in the presence of the Puerto Rican woman, Berit and I knew exactly why she was still there: she was too polite and passive.

Pushing our way to the front of the fourth line we were directed to, Berit and I calmly explained our situation. “You cancelled the flight, we want to go home, make it happen” was how we summed it up by this point. We had told our sad tale so many times and were beginning to worry that no one was actually listening. Just sending us to another line.

But when the incredibly rude and apathetic woman from AlItalia informed us that all flights to the United States were overbooked and we probably wouldn’t get a flight home until August 6th, Berit and I realized that we controlled our own fate. Nodding patiently and saying little was going to keep us in the Milan airport for days, even a week. Screaming and making this AlItalia employee realize that her life would actually benefit once we were in the air, crossing the Atlantic Ocean was what was going to get us home.

Ten minutes later, we had the tickets for tomorrow’s flight to Newark in our hands, as well as two free vouchers for a near-by hotel.

I’m not one to condone such aggressive behavior, but when you’re stuck in a foreign country, being treating like you are a moron, it’s okay and sometimes necessary to go a little nuts.

And Berit and I agree, from now on, we will ALWAYS book a direct flight.

- Ann Curran

Monday, August 21, 2006

LE MARCHE: The ultimate wine tour

KEES DEKKER SIPPED a glass of Sassi Neri, a Rosso Conero wine, in the cantina of the La Terrazza vineyard and pronounced, “You don’t drink this wine because it’s just wine.”

I nodded, not really knowing if I could fully appreciate the subtle differences in flavor. Visiting this famed vineyard that claimed connections to Bob Dylan, for me, meant drinking free wine in a chilled environment on a blazing summer day, plus the opportunity to learn a little about life in Italy.

Dekker, a Dutchman, savored the dry, fruity taste, paused and then declared, “This is a serious wine; it has complexity.”

He and his wife had been vacationing in Le Marche every summer for the past four years and they were in the process of buying a second home here. They had initially looked in Tuscany and Umbria but they found that Le Marche was cheaper, less crowded with foreigners and far more diverse than anywhere else they had been.

“Italians say that Le Marche is Italy in one region,” Dekker noted. “You have the sea, the mountains, all four seasons.”

Like the wine, there is complexity in the region.

Le Marche begins at the Adriatic Sea, develops into gentle, rolling hills and ends in the massive, mile high Apennine Mountains.

As the terrain subtly evolves from sea level to foothills to high ground, there are minor disparities in people’s attitudes and slight differences in cultures.

Residents of hilltop towns separated by only a few miles have different dialects and opposing outlooks on life. The special delicacy of one town may be unavailable in the next town down the road. The modest style of one city, while not necessarily noticeable to outsiders, may be different from the slightly less modest style of the next.

And that’s the way they like things there.

“In America, things are black or white – things are good or bad,” said Carlo Cleri, a representative of the Slow Foods movement branch in the medieval city of Cagli. “We like variety, difference. There is a lot of range between white and black.”

Wine is a prime example: there are more than 250 government sanctioned varieties of wine produced in Italy, a country smaller than California where there are fewer than 30 varieties.

In Le Marche alone, there are 12 types of wine that are created here and nowhere else in the world. Each wine, labeled “D.O.C.” (denominazione d'origine controllata, meaning wine of controlled origin), has its own characteristics that vary, if only slightly, from other wines produced in the region.

You could spend years exploring the hundreds of vineyards that exist in Le Marche, from worldwide production facilities to mom and pop farms. And whether or not you can savor the difference between a full-bodied Rosso Conero and an ethereal Rosso Piceno, touring wineries is a great way to experience the differences in our cultures, as well as the differences in theirs.

“You’re walking on wine,” Gianluca Garofoli said with a laugh as we entered the original fermentation room of his family’s vineyard near the holy city of Loreto.

The English-speaking, 25-year old Gianluca explained that below the concrete floor at our feet, in two giant concrete tanks, were thousands of liters of Rosso Conero, the cherry-smelling red wine that is only produced in the area surrounding Monte Conero.

The old cellar - ripe with the aroma of sweet wine - was built in 1901 and is still used today even though the Garofoli family has completely modernized their facilities. Wine is also aged in huge, 900 liter wooden barrels as well as in steel tanks. In the basement of the adjacent building are 700 French barrels used to mature wine at 225 liters per barrel.

“Each generation has built this business, step by step,” said Gianluca, whose grandfather’s grandfather started the vineyard in 1871 along the pilgrimage path to Loreto, where the original home of the Virgin Mary has been for around 800 years.

Garofoli, a mid-sized winery with 1,400 acres of grape fields, now distributes 2.2 million bottles around the world annually.

The affable Gianluca, a Red Sox-loving baseball fanatic and heir to the family business, explained that the Garofoli family was among the first vintners to put wine in bottles - rather than jugs - in the latter half of the 19th century. In the 1950’s, they were among the first in Italy to have a fully automated bottling plant.

“We totally changed the distribution of wine in Italy,” he said.

Gianluca eagerly walked us around the state-of-the-art bottling plant where 5 workers watched machines package wine at 5,000 bottles per hour.

Then he offered us wine.

“And now we drink?” he asked.

So we sat down for a few hours, sampled several bottles of Garofoli reds and whites and we talked to Gianluca, the left fielder for the local squad, about life in Le Marche.

“I don’t know if I love the Marche region but Monte Conero is beautiful,” he said as he continued filling our glasses. “Everyone knows it around the world. This is a very good region to live.”

Actually, Monte Conero and the Le Marche region remain rather unknown, especially in comparison to great Italian destinations like Rome, Venice and the heavily trafficked Tuscan region.

But Le Marche, due east of Tuscany, is a veritable treasure trove of charming medieval hill towns, pristine beaches and stunning vistas.

On a random drive, you can find vast fields of radiant, yellow sunflowers, ancient castles perched high upon mountaintops and charming little villages full of cafes and friendly people who don’t speak a lick of English.

When we arrived unannounced on a scorching summer Sunday afternoon, Sandro Finocchi’s 86-year old father was sitting in the shade on the porch of the modest family home, a handful of tiny, lazy kittens sprawled at his feet.

He immediately began talking to us in Italian as though we were old friends.

I had been in Italy for more than a month at that point, teaching in a journalism program for American college students, so my language skills were almost acceptable.

Still, I could barely understand the lively old man. He seemed to be rambling on and on in a local dialect about being a prisoner of war in a Turkish camp during World War II.

Finally, he called for his son, the operator of the Azienda Agricola Finocchi vineyard.

Sandro Finocchi, clad in brown sandals, a black tank top and shorts, approached us with a smile and offered to give us a tour of his 20-acre property even though he was in the middle of eating lunch. His 16-year old daughter Elena acted as our translator.

“I live upstairs and I work here,” Finocchi said. “I don’t leave too much!”

We walked down a gentle sloping hill that was thick with grape vines and olive trees. Finocchi explained that the land had been in his family for generations but he began producing and selling wine in the mid 1980’s. He pulled a small, rubbery branch off of a tree and showed us how he uses the twigs to bind vines to fencing.

“Everything is organic,” he said. “We only use a minimal amount of chemicals to keep away parasites.”

He produces about 40,000 bottles per year, mostly the crisp, white Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, with much of the wine going to restaurants in Rome. And it is completely a family operation – Finocchi and his two daughters gather the grapes, bottle the wine, place labels on them and then box the final products.

Back at his home/ factory, Finocchi cleaned a few glasses and poured us white wine straight from a stainless steel tank.

“It’s too cold,” he said. “But that’s good for a hot day like today.”

Le Marche’s verdicchio wines were popular in the years following World War II and their distinctive hourglass-shaped bottles became symbols of Italian restaurants around the world. As competition for sales increased, wine makers began lowering the quality of the product in order to lower the price.

That caused a backlash and the virtual end of verdicchio sales.

Over the past 20 years or so, Italian verdicchios have made a strong comeback. Some of the whites can now be aged for up to ten years, similar to high quality reds.

The fresh, white Bianchello del Metauro wine from the Guerrieri vineyard tastes like Le Marche. You can smell the dry farmland in the glass and you can almost taste the sea air that wafts over the fields.

The grapes are grown in the Metauro River valley, a few kilometers inland from the Adriatic Sea, on 500 acres of land that has been cultivated by the Guerrieri family for more than 200 years.

The grape variety, however, is much older and carries a sense of pride for the locals: legend has it, Luca Guerrieri told us, that the Bianchello del Metauro saved the Roman Empire.

The great Carthaginian general Hannibal had already taken much of Southern Italy when his brother, the commander Hasdrubal, began advancing upon Rome from the north.

On a hot summer night in 207 BC, Hasdrubal’s troops made camp along the Metauro River and found a farmer with vast reserves of Bianchello del Metauro wine. The Carthaginian army reportedly drank gallons upon gallons of the refreshing drink and when the Roman legions attacked in the morning, the Carthaginians were either too drunk or hung over to survive.

Or so the story goes.

Of course, nearly all Italian wines are created with American roots grafted onto their vines.

A parasite, phylloxera, caught a ride to France from the U.S. in the 1860’s and, within 25 years, wiped out most of the European vineyards. The solution to the almost-catastrophic event was to create hybrid plants which are still used today.
Some of the grapes produced in the region, like the LaCrima di Morro D’Alba, have retained their ancient flavors.
“LaCrima grapes are a special type of grape,” said Carlo Cleri, 35, the Slow Foods proponent. “It’s traditional, it has the flavor of old wines.”

We had spent the afternoon touring the factory of the Stefano Mancinelli winery, with Stefano’s parents, Fabio and Luisa, as our tour guides. The factory, which specializes in the LaCrima, wasn’t much to look at but the family couldn’t have been nicer to us. They sliced a blackberry pie and invited us to sit and taste their wines. The more questions we asked about them and their rose and violet-scented wine, the more they kept giving us stuff – books, pictures, wine labels.

Fabio Mancinelli began making wine about 50 years ago just for the love of doing so. He grew his own grapes on the hills near the castle-like city of Morro D’Alba. His passion became his son’s business and now they are among the few farms that are allowed to grow the rustic-flavored grapes that can be given the name of LaCrima di Morro D’Alba.

“To me, this is the best wine,” Cleri said. “It is a wine I usually open with a girl.”

We visited the Capinera Winery, owned by a pair of BMW-driving brothers who are both architectural engineers in Rome. Paolo Capinera speaks a little English. Fabrizio is a sommelier. They started making wine on 18 acres of old family land near Morrovalle about ten years ago.

The brothers were excited to entertain us but they were also in a rush to go home to Rome, a three-hour drive away. They poured copious amounts of wine for us but rushed our tasting. It made our drive home pretty exciting.

Another day we visited the tourist friendly Conte Leopardi winery in Numana where the owner handed visitors glasses of wine as soon as they entered the shop.

An employee at the Moroder vineyard in Ancona escorted us through the cellar but never offered us wine. So we left.

At the Vicari vineyard in Morro D’Alba, locals were filling up large, 5-gallon jugs with LaCrima.

Silvano Strologo showed us huge, 27-liter bottles of his Rosso Conero at the Strologo vineyard in Camerano.

“I recently sold 3 bottles to someone in Germany,” he laughed.

“Of course, Tuscany is always first,” said Laura Baldinelli, an English-speaking export assistant at the Umani Ronchi winery in Osimo. “But Le Marche is very popular now as well.”

Baldinelli spoke to us inside the 58 degree cellar that is designed to look like the inside a mine.

“Here, there are not diamonds but our top wines,” she said.

The moist, dim room that was as stylish as a nightclub contained 500 French barrels containing roughly 300 bottles of Italian wine per barrel. And that was less than half of the vineyards production. Another 500 barrels were kept at another location and the winery employs dozens of huge, steel tanks.

“We produce 4.5 million bottles every year,” Baldinelli said. “It’s a very huge quantity.”

In the slick, glass showroom afterwards, we sampled six of the vineyards finest wines. And we all walked away carrying bottles to take back to America.

Dekker, the Dutchman, purchased 12 bottles of the Sassi Neri wine from La Terrazza.

“We’ll drink two or three every few months and then come back next year!” he said.

It was an admirable plan.

“Le Marche is a wonderful place,” he continued. “But I think if you return in 10 years it will be a very different place, for better or worse.”

- G. Miller

Sunday, August 20, 2006

CAMERANO (part XVI): An uphill climb to see cool caves and more

ARRIVING IN CAMERANO, riding in a large turquoise van, one of the first things that is pointed out is the playground bar.

At first I think I’ve misunderstood.

We pass by and I see a children’s playground and something that looks like a snack bar in the corner of the park.

“Playground bar?” I say in confusion to Philly, my colleague on this program. She nods back and I start to wonder what kind of town is this that I will be living in the next four weeks.

My next observation is the hills. If your parents are like mine they love to remind you that when they were you age they had to “walk to school uphill, both ways.”

I used to laugh at such a thing, but now I feel like I am experiencing just that. It seems everywhere we go is uphill. It’s no wonder that of the 4000 people living in Camerano most of them are physically fit, despite the overly available gelato.

We finally arrive at a row of apartments that will be my new home. Our driver Marco Bravi squeezes our Scooby Doo mystery machine look-a-like car into a parking spot between the smallest car I’ve ever seen and a Vespa. These two vehicles would be a common sight from now on. Walking up three flights of stairs I hear the lock click and the door swings open to our apartment.

Our purple apartment.

There is a poster of Vespa’s on the bathroom door. The Kitchen is orange. These bright colors are typical decorating for Italians. There is no dishwasher, we wash dishes by hand. We have a washing machine but it’s broken and so we do that by hand too and hang it on the clothesline to dry. I feel like I’ve gone back in time instead of to a different country.

But it is just a different country and these surprises in my apartment wouldn’t be the only ones in Camerano. Many other hidden secrets lay throughout this town and the only way you could ever find them is to talk to the locals… or read this.

The most wondrous of Camerano’s unknowns is the network of caves that is carved beneath the entire town. Walking into a store in the middle of town you would never guess that it contains a secret door that is an entrance to caves hundreds of years old.

The caves are a chilly 55 degrees, give or take a few degrees. This is due to the depth which can be up to 60 meters deep. A sweater is definitely advised. The tunnels range from very narrow with low ceilings where you have to duck your head if you over five feet tall to large rooms that could hold a hundred people. There is evidence that some rooms held mass when religious freedom was restricted by the town’s occupiers.

Camerano was founded by the Piceni tribe in about 600 BC and since then there have been many turnovers in rulers.

During WWII the Germans occupied Camerano and the citizens used the caves as a safe-haven from Allied bombing. The elder Cameranesi tell their grandchildren stories of living in these caves. At one point the citizens of Camerano were forced to retreat to the safety of the caves for eighteen days straight. Looking around the caves, with rough jagged rock in some areas and no privacy not to mention the areas that drip water, it is almost unimaginable to think about having to live there for almost three weeks.

There are large decorative arches carved into in the room walls and smaller arches which held lanterns to illuminate the temporary abode. One room is intricately carved in a fashion so that when one stands in the exact center and speaks it sounds as though you are hearing your voice in headphones.

The caves, since originally dug, have been repaired for the safety of visitors. Brick walls have been raised to make sure the ceilings don’t falter and arches have been given extra support with brick as well. Although these addendums are rather unsightly it’s worth it so the history of these remarkable caves is not lost.

Other stones have also been brought into the caves, but not for support. The original caves were connected through many tunnels which lead up to the basements of several homes in the center of town. Since then the Camerano citizens have built stone walls to close off the tunnels to use the portion of the caves that lay under their homes as personal storage space such as wine storage.

Emerging from these caves you are faced with a beautiful view of the Adriatic Sea. Camerano sits in close proximity to the Conero Peninsula which is a coastal terrain with added culture because of the roman ruins and history that lay within. A twenty-minute bus ride can deliver you right to the shores of Numana, one of the nearby beaches. The last bus brings you back to Camerano at 8pm, which means if you don’t have a rental car you’ll be spending your evenings in Camerano.

There is a piazza in town, although it is rather small and lacks typical nighttime activities. The senior locals tend to gather here, men on benches and the women linked arms and doing laps around the perimeter of the piazza. This can be seen any day of the week but if you want to hit Camerano’s nightlife you need only walk down the street where you’ll find an outdoor corner bar with view of the sea, a pizza restaurant/ bar and a club.

After that there doesn’t seem to be much going on in Camerano, but with the right people, these few watering holes are enough. The pizza place doubles as a gelato hotspot and only €1.30 can buy a small scoop of heaven. During the day you can get pizza, salad and cold drinks there and it is one of the few places that stays open during pausa.

As far as sight seeing goes in Camerano you won’t want to miss the San Francesco church with famous painting of Loreto. It has a crypt that’s closed up and doesn’t have much appeal from the outside is a gem inside. For those sports fans there is a stadium located in the southeast corner of town. Supermarkets are all around but never open, or so it seems (they all shut down for pausa from 12:30 until about 5). The G&S has the most selection, but it is quite a hike from the center of town and on the hot July days in Camerano, trekking uphill with a full load of groceries can be a task and a half.

Trattoria Strologo, Osteria Kren, Hotel 3 Querce and Piccolo Mondo are restaurants we visit when we’re too lazy to make the trip to the market.

To get your political fill, tours are available in the City Hall and if you’re lucky you can meet with the mayor and ask question such as the effect the new Ikea will have on the traffic around the Camerano area.

- Caitlyn Slivinski

Saturday, August 19, 2006

MACERATA (part II): How much is that doggie in the window?

ON THE DAY WE TRAVEL to Macerata, there is a huge market day going on.

The streets are jam-packed with pushy market-goers and the more laid back strollers who spend hours carefully perusing the stands.

To me, the streets might as well be empty and desolate. I only have eyes for a puppy.

This market looks like the many others I have been to in Italy except larger. Hand-sewn intricate bags hang from hooks next to long, flowing dresses, beside a tent dedicated to belts, jewelry, and hats that range from Viva Italia to the New York Yankees emblem embroidered on the front.

I am bored and long for something new to look at it.

That’s when I notice a grungy looking man slumped between two baby carriages. Intrigued, I move closer. Inside each carriage are three delicately small puppies.

Normally more cautious, I barely notice the man who clearly owns the puppies as I dangle my face inside one of the carriages. I ooh and aah over the puppies as they lie sweetly together for warmth and protection. One yawns and stretches his little puppy legs, causing the others to squirm and readjust positions.

“I want one of those puppies,” I say quietly to my professor as my eyes remain locked below me.

“Get one,” my absent-minded professor says.

He either thinks that I am joking and would never actually buy one or he finds my addiction to the puppies amusing and wonders how far this can possibly go.

“Okay,” I call his bluff and run off in search of an ATM.

After withdrawing more euros than I should, I plan on shoving the wad of cash in front of the gypsy man while my professor translates my desire. The puppies’ owner explains to us that the puppies were not for sale, and they are actually bait for receiving donations. I figure if I offer more money, then maybe I can slip away with one of these precious looking pups.

Just as my hopes are beginning to soar, the painful reality sinks in: I am returning home to the United States in two days, and I have no idea whether all (if any of my three) flights are willing to accommodate animals…especially animals who have never seen the inside of a veterinarian’s office and were purchased from an Italian beggar.

Even if the man lets me buy one of his puppies, I know it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, as I probably would have to only say goodbye again.

And so I reluctantly leave the otherwise mundane marketplace with only pictures of the adorable puppies in my memory and on my digital camera.

- Ann Curran

Friday, August 18, 2006

FERMINGNANO: Small but worth a stop

THE AREA AROUND FERMINGANO is industrial, with large factories scattered along the road leading into the city.

And the town itself is tiny, with a small piazza and a handful of streets full of ancient homes.

But the tower and bridge that runs across the Metauro River is a sight to see.

From the city, you can walk across the bridge to, well, nowhere. It merely takes you towards a parking lot and a main road. But while you are on the bridge, the water flows beneath your feet and down a small set of waterfalls. From the main road, it is beautiful to see.

Abandoned factories line the river in the city, offering signs of why this place came to be: its great location.

It is also on the road to Urbino, the provincial capital. So if you are on your way to Urbino, stop off and see the wonderful town of Fermingano.

It won't take long.

- G. Miller

Thursday, August 17, 2006

SIROLO (part II): Jewel of the Conero Riviera

JUST STEPS FROM THE SEA, Sirolo is considered by many to be the “Jewel of the Conero Riviera.”

The beautiful town is surrounded by steep cliffs overlooking long stretches of beach and white rocks covered in pinewood.
Upon entering the medieval town you will not fail to be greeted by Sparky, a local mutt. He sits on the windowsill of his owner’s store, a fruit and vegetable market, eagerly awaiting the arrival of tourists and locals on their way to town.

The main piazza overlooks the sparkling green water of the Adriatic. On the other side of the piazza are shops and cafes. The center of the town sticks out over a cliff similar to the way a balcony juts off the side of a building.

At night the many cafes and gelaterias fill with people and the shops buzz with action.

Upon entering the piazza, directly to the left, one can find the Tourist Information Center. This is helpful if one is planning on staying in the area for a while. They have a range of brochures advertising local activities such as wine vineyards, horseback riding, water parks and theatres.

To the right of the Tourist Information Center is an art gallery, which I have yet to see open but which looks very promising. Through the window I am able to make out several attractive looking paintings of sunflowers, apparently based on the local scenery.

The center of the piazza is comprised of several small cafes. My favorite being L’Oasis Gelateria. Although I have not tried the ice cream I came one evening for drinks and was pleased with the location and service.

Across from the L’Oasis Gelateria sits one of the many local alimentare, the Italian version of a small grocery store. The store is underwhelming from the outside but upon entering it feels as though you are in a different world. The small shop is meticulously organized and appears to be maintained by a perfectionist.

The tiny refrigerated section is directly to your left when you walk in. It contains various packaged meats and cheeses. In the center of the store sits an assortment of brown wicker baskets filled to the brim with ripe tomatoes, vibrant red and yellow peppers and a variety of other fresh fruits and vegetables.

The store overflows with the smell of new produce and the slightly less appealing tinge of dirty sneakers. The source of the less attractive smell can be attributed to the cheese counter in the back of the store. Through the glass case a wide range of cheeses can be seen. From your traditional mozzarella to your feta and parmesan, it appears to all be there. The owners are friendly and were not the least bit taken aback that I leave without buying anything.

Along the main street there are several gelaterias to chose from; nevertheless there is clearly a favorite in my mind. The Gelateria Artigianale is your typical Italian ice cream parlor; however the cones are what make it truly stand out.

Most gelatarias, in my experience, offer the cake cone, which has a consistency similar to that of a piece of cardboard.

Gelateria Astigianole’s waffle cones are freshly made and the taste attests to that. The shop’s gelato flavors range from your average vanilla and chocolate to your more interesting pistachio and Nutella.

As always I opt for my traditional yogurt flavored gelato and rejoice in the option of having a waffle cone.

The small narrow streets branching off of the piazza have a variety of clothing and accessory shops ranging from your typical Italian sunglass shop to your quintessential Italian tobacharia.

The first store I enter is called Ceramica “Sirolese.” The size of the shop is no larger than 20 by 20 feet. Crammed with small ceramic goods, the store appears overwhelming at first. Initially my eye is caught by the display being set up by the owner: sea horses, star fish, fish and shells hanging on a net over the front door. The ceramic creatures vary in size and the colors range from your typical sea blue to an iridescent moss green and a vibrant tangerine orange.

When assembled, the display is quite shocking and I am almost enticed to invest in my own net and collection of ceramic sea creatures.

Once out on the main street I pass an interesting looking store on my right. The door is wide open and an array of items can be seen displayed around the store. Tutto Arte is not your average store. It sells a wide variety of goods with a common element being the fact that they are all pieces of art.

There are various types of jewelry and pieces of furniture. The back wall is lined with paintings and small sculptural pieces. Initially I am drawn to a large crystal that can be hung from a cord and then worn as a necklace but at last minute I choose a small conch shell that is edged in silver. The bohemian artsy feel of the store is common in Italy and there always seems to be at least one store of its kind in every town.

Further down the main street I come across a longer side street, which leads me to a discount sunglass store. Every surface is covered in sunglasses and reading glasses for both men and women. The designers range from Escada to Calvin Klein. The store’s air-conditioning provides me with a nice break from the heat.

Towards the end of the main street I come across a small pizza store, Rosticeria della Pizza al Taglio. The piazza served is traditional Italian pizza in that the crust is very thin; however this pizza parlor opts to serve their slices as triangles rather than your more traditional square.

At the end of the street and just outside of the town, I walk under a large stone archway. Here I come across the towns well known theatre “Cortesi.” This theatre is also the box office box of the outdoor theatre “Alle Cave.” Both theatres are infamous during the summer for their lyrical operas. “Alle Cave” is also known to be used as a discothèque late at night.

Further down the street I enter a residential section of Sirolo. The houses are large and the gate of the first house is adorned with tiles spelling out Villa Giulia. The large yellow building is hidden behind a fence. From what I can see it is clearly a beautiful old building surrounded by lush gardens.

Various villas continue to line the street, which eventually leads to the main road which will take you through Numana, another town, and then to a long stretch of beaches.

- Berit Baugher

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

ANCONA (part III): More than just a transportation hub

IF YOU'VE TRAVELED THROUGH Italy, you most likely associate the city of Ancona with transportation.

As travelers, me and my friends have probably spent the most amount of time in Ancona anxiously waiting to leave: our four hour train to Rome, our overnight ferry to Croatia and our multiple bus trips home to our apartment in Camerano.

However, it isn’t until a day trip devoted to the city itself, that we realize the historic sites, architecture, views, cafes and shops are worth at least a day of exploring.

Driving into the city, we are naturally drawn to a large dome at the top of a hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Following sporadically placed arrows, we wander up the Colle Guasco hill, tripping over random cobblestone streets, lingering under stone bridges and climbing steep steps to reach the peak.

At the top, I can see that the 300-foot dome is part of the Cathedral of San Ciriaco. Drenched with sweat and panting, we walk past two stone lions through the Cathedral’s Gothic style door, only to be kicked out by an old Italian man who scoldingly points to our tank tops. If we had been covered, we could have seen the crypts inside that contain the remains of a temple from the third century B.C.

Dehydrated from our hike up, we walk down the street a little ways to a small café appropriately named Bar Duomo. Terrace seating with a nice breeze and beautiful views of the Adriatic Sea makes it an ideal spot to rejuvenate with a gelato or cold drink.

“What should we see in Ancona?” I ask our waiter.

He leads me to the café’s side balcony and points to Ancona’s main landmarks in broken English. Looking out at the city, I can’t distinguish any lasting destruction from WWII bombings or damage from a large earthquake in 1972.

From my many bus trips I recognize the Arch of Trajan, a 61-foot high marble arch bordering the Adriatic. Further from the sea, at the base of the Colle Guasco hill the waiter points to an amphitheater and a lighthouse on an adjacent hill in the Parco del Cardeto.

Both sound interesting and look within reasonable walking distance. After a drink, we decide to descend Colle Guasco to get a better look at the amphitheater.

The “amphitheater” is a disappointment. Surrounded by a metal fence and overgrown with weeds, the crumbling form of what was once an impressive public venue in the first century AD, now looks more like a zoo exhibition.

Ready to redeem ourselves, we head towards the lighthouse at the top of another hill. At street level it is difficult to get our bearing so we ask a couple of Italians in the street where to go. Doubting our vague directions, we walk past residential house’s driveways to a dirt path. Despite some intimidating signs signaling that we are on Military Property, we continue to a modern lighthouse, built in 1970. Beyond the modern lighthouse is an original 1860 lighthouse donated to the people of Ancona by Pope Pius IX.

It is somewhat disappointing to discover that the lighthouse is not open to the public but the peaceful scenery is worth the trip alone. Free from the crowded streets and noises of buses, trains and ferry whistles, a solitary wooden chair that overlooks the Adriatic Sea provides the perfect seat to detach from city life. A poster on a closed snack shop front informs visitors of summer night concert dates performed on a small stage adjacent to the lighthouse.

Besides the historic sites, Ancona also has some worthwhile modern attractions. There are a couple shops like Zara, United Colors of Benetton and Max & Co that have reasonable prices and a wider selection of cute clothing compared to their American branches.

On Tuesdays and Fridays, Piazza d’Armi has an open market from 8 to 12 and Corso Mazzini has one everyday except Sunday where you can pick up inexpensive clothes, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. After shopping, various piazzas’ around the city, sit at a café and people watch amidst 16th century architecture and statues.

Rather than a destination, people usually think of Ancona as merely a stop off point, the beginning or end of various bus, train, ferry or plane trips.

Instead of sitting in a station you should take a look around.

- Philly Petronis

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

ANCONA (part II): Skip the first floor, begin on the second, proceed to the third and end on the first

CONSCIOUS OF MY FELLOW travelers low tolerance for museums and recognizing the potential for an aggressive backlash, I decide to make a solitary trip to Ancona to visit the Archeology Museum.

After being highly disappointed by the amphitheater ruins which are overgrown with weeds and fenced off from the public, I hope to find some English explanations of the random rock formations around the city’s historic section. I want to know why they deserve to be preserved behind metal barriers.

I pay 2 euros to enter (it’s 4 euro if you’re over 25) the museum and I receive directions to guide me through. In broken English, a museum employee explains that I must skip the first floor and begin on the second floor, proceed to the third floor, and end on the first floor.

Before letting me go, he asks if I understand and then repeats the directions until he accepts my nodding head.

As I begin to navigate my tour, it becomes clear that the museum’s exhibition rooms are as confusing as the museum’s layout.

With no real direction I wander through 90-degree rooms with creaky floors, searching for something to spark my interest.

Most of the artifacts are from the Paleolithic period to the Middle Ages and they all look the same to me. My ignorance is magnified by the fact that only Italian explanations accompany the pieces.

I begin to feel like a maze-trapped rat searching for cheese when I realize I have to go to the bathroom. Semi-enjoyable aimless wandering is replaced by a desperate race to escape.

Rooms have multiple doorways. Strategically placed fire extinguishers or ropes block possible exits. Promising outlets turn out to be dead ends in little hot rooms.

My pending claustrophobia and failure to find a bathroom are making me miserable but I feel obligated to continue. If I start towards an exit, a random museum employee pops up to guide me back to the exhibit.

“Grazie,” I say smiling sheepishly, pretending that I am merely disoriented, not undertaking a master breakout scheme.

I pause in front of some jewelry to feign some interest. These people devote their lives to these old rocks and artifacts; I can’t be a completely ignorant American.

I am flooded with relief when I reach the main stairwell, relief that I am free at last and relief that I didn’t force my friends to join me.

Now if I could only find the bathroom!

- Philly Petronis

Monday, August 14, 2006

CANTIANO: Romans, dinosaurs, passion plays and horse meat

The city of Cantiano, nestled in the Appennine mountains, is rather well known for a city of 2,500 people.

First, there is a museum dedicated to the old Roman highway - the Via Flaminia - which runs through the city. In the area, there are numerous remains of the original road - large stone blocks and impressive, still-functioning bridges.

Second, there is a geological museum with a dinosaur named Ugo. Apparently, thousands upon thousands of years ago, the region was a non-Disney Jurassic Park.

Thirdly, on Good Friday every year, thousands of people come to Cantiano to watch the Passion Play which represents the condemnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And finally, the people of Cantiano eat horse meat.

Yes, horse meat.

In the center of town, at the base of the hill where the remains of the old castle still stand, there are two meat butchers who both specialize in horse meat. And there are horse farms all around in the surrounding cuntryside.

Horse meat, apparently, isn't widely popular here but eating horse meat in Italy doesn't draw the same reaction as it would in America.

Give it a taste!

- G. Miller

Sunday, August 13, 2006

NUMANA (part VII): Everything from necklaces to Nutella

COME TO NUMANA if you love the beach, beautiful sights and a night out on the town.

It doesn’t hurt to be a dog-lover either.

There isn’t a better place to spend your time (or money) than a place like Numana. Located in the Le Marche region just minutes from the Ancona airport, Numana offers enthusiastic travelers a chance to wine and dine at delicious (and affordable) Italian eateries and spend the night at luxurious or more reasonable hotels, depending on what suits you.

The Gigli Hotel is located right in Numana on a cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The hotel offers its guests great food and isolation from the rest of the town, surrounded by trees that close it off and make it barely noticeable as you walk by. For those guests who prefer a more fast, upbeat nightlife, they are minutes away from the center of the town where there is dancing, music and several café bars. For more information, contact the Gigli hotel at 071 9330930 or email at

For those looking to pay less and still have a great stay, Hotel Giardino and Sorriso are more affordable. Both are located in Numana and are also just a short walk away from the town. For more information on both, call 1-800-434-6835 or check them out at You can also stay at a hotel in Sirolo, a town similar to Numana about one kilometer away.

Spending a day at the beach in Numana can only be described as relaxing. English-speaking travelers won’t feel abandoned or alone while traveling in Numana, as many of the employees speak enough English to make sure you get your panini order just right, but not enough to make you feel like you’re back in the States.

There are literally dozens of places to eat throughout the town but I have to recommend Al Pelozzo di Mare. The menu lists an array of food, but the restaurant’s specialty is pizza, which tastes like little slices of heaven. The restaurant is located on a side street in Numana and offers outdoor seating, which is perfect on a warm summer night. The telephone number is 07117360133 and website is

The stores in Numana are also worth a visit. Ranging from exotic necklaces to Nutella in a jar, there is almost any souvenir being sold by friendly, helpful Italians. There is a outdoor market in the piazza during the evening, so while preparing to do some dancing, you can peruse the tables full of hand-made jewelry, scarves, T-shirts, mugs, bowls, personalized postcards, and sparkly pants.

Like most towns in Italy, Numana seems to be home for a lot of dogs. Good-looking dogs, heinous-looking dogs, short, fat, skinny, long, hairy and hairless dogs. You name it, Numana’s got it. I’ve found that Italian culture embraces their pets more on an every-day basis. Sure, Americans love their dogs. But seeing a dog not on a leash or sitting with his owner at a café is rare if not unheard of here .

Numana is just another place to see how much Italians treasure their dogs.

- Ann Curran

Saturday, August 12, 2006

MONTE CONERO: Get a room with a view (cause you won't have a view otherwise)

YOU WOULD THINK THAT at the top of the highest point for miles, on a mountain that overlooks the beautiful blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, there would be some sort of lookout point for tourists.

Well, on the top of Monte Conero, there isn't.

We drove the winding roads to the top and all we found was an old church that is now attached to a luxury hotel.

Behind the hotel are woods where you can hear the sounds of splashing water from the sea several hundred feet below. But there is only one small place where you can view the Adriatic. It is through a ten foot clearing, near a precarious railing, a few hundred yards from the parking area.

That said, the hotel looked very nice - swimming pool, tennis courts, several restaurant options. And from the hotel rooms, there seemed like there would be a fine view of all points south.

- G. Miller

Friday, August 11, 2006

NUMANA (part VI): Dance like no one is watching (a dance hall primer for young Americans)

IN THE LITTLE MERMAID, the protagonist Ariel trades her voice for a chance to have legs and go ashore. To justify this trade, the evil witch – Ursula - convinces Ariel that she doesn’t need her voice because, “You have your looks, your pretty face, and don’t underestimate the importance of body language.”

I think of this scene when visiting a foreign country because although I have not lost my voice, it’s not of much use when I can’t speak the language. In order to overcome my lack of voice, I simply take Ursula’s advice and use body language.

Going dancing is an automatic icebreaker.

As far as I’m concerned nothing helps overcome the language barrier better than a little Shakira.

Babaloo is said to be a hotspot not far from Camerano for young adults and Wednesday nights are free for the ladies. Another club that’s right on the beach in Numana is Cavalluccio di Mare. It has a Tropical theme with grass-roofed huts sprinkled around the dance floor.

Dancing is a way to get a glimpse into the culture. You can observe the way men approach women in social situations.

Even at a less touristy nightclub the drinks can cost six or seven U.S. dollars. The locals don’t seem to mind buying them for girls occasionally and maybe this has to do with how much they drink.

Europeans are more of a social drinking community. They don't usually drink to get drunk - which is often the case with American college students.

Another standard with Italian nightlife is that going to the club usually means you don’t go until midnight and you don’t leave for home until five in the morning.

- Caitlyn Slivinski

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today's headline is stolen from one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Satchel Paige. Here is his full quote: “Work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt and dance like no one is watching.”

Pure genius.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Numana (part V): Would you rather have a permanent beer belly or only one ear?

“LET'S PADDLE REALLY HARD so we can get their faster,” Berit suggests and we haul-ass to get to the secluded beach, about a half-mile away.

We drag our kayak, which we had rented for 10 Euro per hour from a place called Corallo’s, to shore so it doesn’t float away. Then, we rip our life vests off and I dive into the water.

“Come on Berit,” I yell back to shore but she has collapses into a beach chair under an umbrella instead.

The water is warm with occasional cold spots. I swim to a raft floating a short distance from the shore. Moments later I’m joined by Ann, Philly, and George - my fellow kayakers. Slightly winded from our paddling we catch our breath and sun ourselves on the raft.

“People forget the joy of physical activity like kayaking and bike rides… and eating pistachio nuts”, Philly remarks.

We all agree.

Minutes pass and we get into the discussion of, “Would you rather?” This game involves choosing the better of two unpleasant situations.

“Would you rather have a permanent beer belly or only one ear?” Anne asks.

This is not an easy question and the next five minutes are spent weighing out the pros and cons of each affliction. More questions are posed over the next hour or so.

We eventually have to return our plastic, tourist-safe kayaks and we fight the currents back to the main beach.

Back at Corallo’s, we decide to treat ourselves to some snacks.

I feel like a kid again when we walk up to the snack bar. I order a caffe del Nonno which I’ve never tried before but looks good. I’ve seen it in many shops, its something like a coffee flavored milkshake.

“That’s so good!” Berit says, deciding to get one for herself.

It’s a small cup but it is thick and has an icy consistency so it lasts. It is very filling.

It’s the perfect way to relax after our Adriatic adventure.

- Caitlyn Slivinski

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

FONTE AVELLANA: A thousand years worth of visitors

BURROWED IN THE MOUNTAINS near the massive Monte Catria, the monastery of Fonte Avellana (the hazelnut fountain) has been a magnet of Catholic studies for over a thousand years.

Founded in the 900's AD, the hermitage quickly became a model of monastic life. It is mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy, it was sacked by numerous invaders over the years and it was suppressed by the newly formed Italian state in the 1860's.

Pope John Paul II visited Fonte Avellana in 1982 and elevated the church there to the status of Minor Basilica.

The facility survives today and is open to visitors. It is difficult to find, far removed from other tourist attractions and not really near any large cities. It is relatively close to the impressive hilltop town of Frontone but even that is several kilometers away on a long, winding road.

The grounds at Fonte Avellana are beautiful and there is a lot to see in the actual structure, from the large library - dedicated to Dante - to the crypts and the 12th century church of Santa Croce and Sant' Andrea.

There is also a restaurant and a gift shop on the property and an agriturismo just up the hill.

- G. Miller

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

CAGLI (part VI): The type of town that changes you

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today's essay comes to Andiamo courtesy of Kevin Zazzali, a member of the 2006 Cagli Project.

WHEN AMERICANS TRAVEL TO ITALY, they usually head for Bologna, Florence, Naples, Rome and Venice.

So when I arrived in Cagli, a small town in Italy’s Le Marche region, I dropped my bags in my apartment, stepped outside and scratched my head trying to answer the question, “What the hell am I doing in Cagli?”

I was there for an extremely compressed study abroad program but ultimately concluded that Cagli should be added as a contender for one of the best destinations in Italy.

Even though it is small, (only about 10,000 Cagliesi populate the town) Cagli has a long history. The huge stone Torrione was built by Giorgio Martin in 1480 A.D. Cagli has nine churches, a palace and four different gates, or entryways, to the city: Porta Flaminia, Porta Lombarda, Porta Massara and Porta Vittoria.

Any traveler eager to experience a dose of old-school Italian living should book a weekend at Casale Torre Del Sasso (which loosely translates to, “village tower of the stone”), one of the many agriturismi springing up in Italy. I spent two nights there with my family. Casale Torre Del Sasso is reminiscent of a small castle-like embattlement situated at the top of a steep hill. Mario Carnaci runs the agriturismo.

The exterior is deceiving. The first floor is full of antique furniture generations old that makes a person feel warm and at home. There are windows everywhere, a fireplace, a sofa and plenty of room to stroll around and examine the antiques. Two queen-sized bedrooms contain all the accoutrements any American tourist would need, such as a huge sink, mirror and bathtub.

After settling in, take my advice and ditch your car or van and lace up your sneakers. Take a left leaving Mario’s Torre Del Sasso and start experiencing Cagli! A steep hill will take you to your first adventure: a tiny path leads to a bridge that resembles the one from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” The steps are made of wood and, although metal cables suspend the bridge, some steps are missing. The view is mesmerizing during the day, but be careful walking at night.

Definitely book a dinner at the classy La Gioconda on Via Brancuti, (a side street directly off of Via Leopardi). With reservations, you will be seated immediately. Try the pasatella in crema di formaggio e tartufo nero as an appetizer. It is pasta served in a light cream sauce, topped with black truffles. It is filling, although with a strong aftertaste. For a second course, stick with your American instinct and select the salsiccia e cipolla grigliata. This dish contains perfectly grilled sausages and onions that are served in a delicious olive oil.

Get a good night’s sleep and start the next day right with a coffee at the Caffe del Commercio, in the Piazza Matteotti. The piazza is the best place to get to know and observe the Cagliesi. Whip out your dictionary and say hi to Mimi, who owns the caffé, or any of the other kind employees, such as Dodo and Marina. They love speaking to Americans and will remember your name. I mentioned the name of a friend who had traveled to Cagli three years ago on my first day in town, and they immediately warmed up to me.

Then walk off the croissants you ate and visit the waterfalls of Cagli. From the piazza, take Via Leopardi and make a right on Via A. Celli, which will take you close enough in the direction of the waterfall. After a 15-minute walk, the rushing sound of the light blue water will greet your ears before you see the falls. Walk slowly and safely, because a hidden path takes you to a steep descent. The effort is worth it, because the falls are secluded, clean and can act as your private swimming pool under looming Monte Petrano. Bring a towel and sunscreen if planning on staying more than an hour.

Spend the rest of your second day visiting the shops of Cagli. Buy a “Shark Kong” T-shirt next to the gold jeweler’s shop on Porta Vittoria and have fun explaining why Italy combined King Kong with a shark. I still have not figured it out. Then grab a panino at Caffé d’Italia. Ask to see the opera schedule in case an opera is being performed at the Accademia Del Teattro

Instead of a night at the opera, you might want to barhop a little. First, head outside the piazza and order the McCain Pizza, which is a plain pizza topped with fries (yes, French fries!) and a few drinks at Squa Qua, on Via Leopardi to get warmed up. Wander across the street to the local wine bar, Caffe' del Corso, which is owned by a big, burly, friendly guy named “Seven.”

While there, treat yourself to a Devil’s Kiss beer. This is a German beer boasting 8 percent alcohol that will surely please any college student. Then stand on the street with the Cagliesi. One will surely approach you asking, “Americano?” If you’re not tired, start talking and see what else you can find out about Cagli. Once you return to your temporary home at Casale Torre Del Sasso, you can relax in the mini courtyard or by the pool if the weather is warm.

Although 20-plus journalism students descend yearly upon Cagli, the town is a find for any traveler looking to get away from the bustling markets of Florence (and via two trains, it only takes about three hours with one connection).

Cagli is the type of town that changes you.

For a rookie journalist who hated traveling until about three weeks ago, I am already figuring out how to extend my stay in Italy. Rome did not do that to me. Venice did not do that to me. The beauty, sounds and overall peace of Cagli, however, did. If you take a risk and book a weekend at Casale Torre Del Sasso, and greet Cagli with an open mind, you will be rewarded with the type of experience you would never get in a big city.

Come to Cagli and you will understand why I stopped scratching my head the first day of my four-week stint here.

If You Go, Don’t Miss:

• Accademia Del Teatro
- Tel. 0721-787644 (9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.) and 0721-781341 (5 p.m. – 7 p.m.);;

• Caffe d’Italia
- Piazza Matteotti, 3. Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Seven days a week.

• Caffe del Commercio
- Piazza Matteotti, 18. Open 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday. Tel. 0721-787220.

• Caffe' del Corso
- C. XX Settembre, 5-7. Open 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday.

• La Gioconda
- Via Brancuti. Open 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday. Tel. 0721-781549,

• Squa Qua
- Via G. Celi. Open 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Seven days a week. Tel. 0721-790418, or

• Torre Del Sasso

• The Waterfalls!

Internet Spots:
• B.T. Point
- Via Mameli, 7. Open 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.
• Squa Qua

- Kevin Zazzali

Monday, August 07, 2006

Camerano (part XV): Please don't touch the bananas (but if you do, make sure you do it right!)

"ITALIAN WOMEN TYPICALLY go to the market everyday to buy fresh fruits and vegetables,” explains our Italian teacher here in Camerano.

This must be why we Americans get stared at when we go to the market and stock up like we are preparing for a blizzard.

Needless to say, buying groceries in an Italian supermarket is different from food shopping in the United States.

At home you just go into the store, grab a peach, for example, maybe squeeze it a few times to make sure it is ripe, and then toss it into a plastic bag.

Here, try to grab your peach and you get yelled at by the cashier whose arms are flailing like she’s flagging a cab (and not getting one).

You soon realize that in Italy, you point to the produce of your choice and the grocery store workers retrieve it for you.

They don’t want your dirty hands touching another customer’s potential purchase.

At some stores, it is up to you to select your peach and take it to a scale in the produce section but even then there are restrictions. First, you are supposed to wear disposable plastic gloves supplied by the store. Second, you are supposed to weigh your own food and determine the price. You match the button on the scale with the fruit or veggie you are weighing.

The machine tallies your price and prints out a sticker with the proper amount plus a barcode. Slap that sticker on your fruit-filled plastic bag and you’re ready to check out.

If you don’t print up the sticker, it’s quite the nuisance for the cashier to walk all the way back through the store and do it for you.

Plus you feel like a foreign idiot.

- Caitlyn Slivinski

Sunday, August 06, 2006

CAGLI (part V): Let us now praise famous men

FANS OF ANDIAMO MAY wonder what exactly we are.

Sure, we make you laugh. Sometimes we make you curious. And other times, we probably make you think, "These people have the greatest jobs in the world."

It's true.

Here come's the plug: Andiamo Nelle Marche is an operation run by ieiMedia, the Institute for Education in International Media. Our staffers are student interns who receive no actual payment.

Working with the editor (George Miller - a journalist, photojournalist and educator) over a four week period, they documented what they saw and experienced.

The Andiamo team operated out of Camerano this summer, while another team of students worked on the Camerano Project - a comprehensive web documentary of the small city near the Conero Riviera.

Both projects are the products of the mind of Andrew Ciofalo (right, pictured singing karaoke with professor Chris Harper).

If you are interested in participating in future projects, please check out the ieiMedia link to the right or e-mail Andrew Ciofalo at

- G. Miller

NUMANA (part IV): It was a pleasure!

THERE IS A RESTAURANT ON Numana Beach called Les Parasols.

Between the restaurant and the shore is a seating area of wooden tables and dark wicker chairs. Don’t try to sit with you feet on the chair because a manager will come outside and say slowly but in perfect English, “I have to ask you to put your feet down.”

The simple yet classy restaurant plays Norah Jones over the speakers. There are mostly tables for two with a few exceptions that seat four.

In Italian class we learn that macedonia means fruit salad and this restaurant serves it. The refreshing snack - a collection of diced fruits - is in a pitcher with a lid and it looks fresh as can be. You can also order a single, whole apple if you prefer. They serve it on a plate with a knife, fork and napkin, further proof of the restaurant’s elegance.

Other food that is available for lunch is salads, small chocolate cookies and pizza squares.

There was a young waiter at the restaurant and he was practicing his English with us.

“After you say thank you and I say it was a pleasure is that it? Does it end?” he asks.

“Um, yeah,” Ann answers.

He hands the bill over and Ann says, “Grazie.”

The waiter responds, “It was a pleasure!”

Then he throws his head back laughing, sending his curly black locks bouncing about in rhythm with his chuckling.

- Caitlyn Slivinski

Saturday, August 05, 2006

RECANATI: Home of the poet Leopardi

THE TOWER THAT STANDS in the heart of Recanati was built around 1160 to unify the three castles that made up the town.

The imposing tower is 36 meters tall and can be seen for miles around.

But Recanati is more famous as the home of one of Italy's most well-known poets, Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837).

Leopardi, of whom a statue now stands in the main piazza, was born and raised in the southern side of town and there are plaques referencing his life's accomplishments and works around the small, walkable city.

You can visit Leopardi's palazzo which is now a library and museum open to the public.

The town is a major attraction for Italians and foreigners alike, mostly because of Leopardi but also because the city is on the pilgrimage path to Loreto.

When we were there, the city was flooded with tourists from Japan, Great Britain, Germany and elsewehere.

- G. Miller

Friday, August 04, 2006

TRAIN FROM ANCONA TO ROME: Stamp your ticket, learn the language and get your coffee elsewhere!

THE TRAIN SYSTEM IN ITALY can be terribly confusing and also an extremely interesting means of people watching.

Before embarking on a weekend trip to Rome my friends and I decide that the best way for us to reach the Eternal City would be to take the train. An easy three hour ride from Ancona to Rome, it seemed the most obvious choice.

The first train available happens to be the local, meaning that it will take a bit longer and make several more stops than the more expensive and spacious Eurostar. Eager to begin our trip we decide to take it, happy that it is only costing us €13.

Walking onto the train the hot stuffy July air fills the cars.

“Please tell me there is air conditioning”, says Annie.

Well, none of the cars seems to be air conditioned so we sit down in the closest available seats.

Once the train begins to move, the conductor makes his way to our car. In a blur of Italian he indicates that we have forgotten to stamp our tickets before boarding the train.

Oh yeah.

According to our conductor this offense is punishable with a € 20 fine. However, he will not charge us and instead writes a rather lengthy blur of Italian words at the top of our ticket (I am assuming this excuses us from forgetting to stamp our tickets before boarding the train).

He then goes into another long incomprehensible rant. My friends and I stare blankly, wishing we understood him and nodding our heads. What could he be saying? By this time the air has thickened to an almost unbearable cloud of heat. My entire body, as with the rest of the individuals sitting in our car, is covered in a thin layer of sweat. It is awful.

Annie decides to look and see if there is a snack car to buy a bottle of water, only to return with a look of shock and embarrassment.

“There’s air conditioning in the other cars,” she says.

Ahhhh. Maybe that’s what the conductor was trying to tell us.

We quickly move to the next car, invading the space of a young Italian girl who does not look pleased to be sharing the seats around her with a bunch of sweaty Americans.

The crisp cold air envelopes our bodies and instantly I cool down. I decide to go with Annie on another search for water and we head toward the end of the car.

While on our hunt we see a broad range of unusual-looking characters. We can’t help but burst into a fit of giggles as we try to steady ourselves while walking down the aisles of the swaying train.

The first is a young boy, perhaps the equivalent of the American adolescent Goth. He sits in his seat with a sword pointed upwards in between his legs. He slowly strokes the blade while looking around at the other members of his car. Although I laugh, I walk past him as quickly as possible - he is more scary than funny.

Next we pass a woman who seems to have lost her modesty after becoming a mother. She sits with her her shirt around her neck and her young infants mouth attached to her breast. Her eyes are closed and she appears to be asleep.

Lastly, we pass a car that appears to be a scene from a movie. Several young men, all dressed casually, sit facing each other on the left side of the train car. They are singing in Italian and looking as though they are having a party.

At last we make our way to the end of the train where Annie proceeds with one of the sole Italian words we have learned to master.

“Café?” she asks, looking for the café car.

The conductor looks confused. Perhaps we are not as talented as we think. Annie stares at me blankly as we often do when we are at a loss for words because not knowing any Italian has, in fact, often left as at a complete loss for words.

Resorting to the universal sign for eating, I start acting like I am putting food into my mouth. The conductor laughs and shakes his head no.

There is no food cart on this train.

- Berit Baugher

EDITOR'S NOTE: The top image comes courtesy of Jennifer Adams, a Berry College student who was a member of the 2006 Camerano Project.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

STAFFOLO: In the heart of white wine country

WHEN WE ARRIVED at the home of Sandro Finocchi, which also happens to be the family vineyard, his 86-year old father was sitting on the porch.

It was a hot summer day and the old man welcomed us, despite our not having an appointment. He immediately began talking to us, in Italian, of course.

Soon enough, he gave up trying to communicate with us and he called for his son, the operator of the winery.

Sandro walked us around the 8 hectare property in the heart of Verdicchio country and he talked about the production of his wine. His two daughters, Elena, 16, and Chiara, 11, run the bottling machine and they label the wine by hand. They joined us on our brief tour.

"I live upstairs, I work here," Sandro said with a laugh. "I don't leave too much!"

The small operation produces about 40,000 bottles per year, with much of the wine going to restaurants in Rome.

In the fermentation room, Sandro cleaned a few glasses and then poured white wine for us, straight from the cold steel tanks. It was fantastic.

After an hour or so, Sandro invited us to see the wine shop he is building nearby in the ancient city of Staffolo. The shop is a labryinth of rooms and walkways that are built right into the old castle walls. He showed us tunnels that lead to other people's homes and shops.

Deeper in the city is a museum dedicated to the Verdicchio wine that is produced nearly everywhere here.

- G. Miller

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

MACERATA: Patience (and a nice hat) pays off

AFTER WALKING AROUND the university buildings, through crowds of people and down endless streets full of stands selling clothing, jewelry, shoes, bags, pictures and souvenirs, I am hungry.

I see a large fruit stand at the end of a street and decide to get an apple.

Never have I witnessed such a chaotic event.

I watch people shouting orders at the fruit stand employees who hurriedly walk to and from the different wooden crates of fruit. With their black fingernails caked with dirt, they grab at various fruits and plop them into bags. The bags are thrown onto a scale and coins are slammed into a small metal box.

Customers yell for firmer apples, point out bruised peaches, test grapes for seeds, ask for more and bargain to pay less.

I figure that I will get noticed by standing in front of the stand, staring down the various fruit stand employees.

No one looks at me.

Berit and Annie go off to play with a homeless man’s puppies. George wanders off to shoot pictures. Caitlyn joins me on my quest to get recognized. Only after the other customers have left does the woman look at me with one of the most pissed off expressions I have ever seen.

I do my usual pointing, combined with a half mumbled attempt at saying apple, “mele,” and then, “uno, uhhh.”

I step forward, shift back, smile.

I use this tactic often and it usually translates roughly as, “I am a dumb American and I want one apple, please.”

Of course she doesn’t understand. Apparently no one comes to the stand to buy just one single piece of fruit.

People usually stock up on market day, leaving with pounds and pounds of fruit to last the following weeks, I guess. Finally after I do my routine a couple more times and Caitlyn points to a nectarine, the fruit stand woman gives us each our fruit, free of charge.

She sighs and basically shoos us away, annoyed that she even took a minute to look at us.

I walk away trying to figure out why she gave us the freebees. I figure she felt bad for our half hour wait, she wanted us to leave as quickly as possible or she pitied the hats we had bought in town and wore so proudly (despite their obvious lack of style).

- Philly Petronis

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

Monday, July 31, 2006

JESI (part II): Yellow is the new black

THE TREND FOR men is yellow pants.

I’ve seen a lot of men, usually older, wearing pants the color of a ripe banana. It’s not like the workman’s neon pants. And they aren’t pastel. They are rather some sort of a sun weathered yellow.

There are some variations. You might find yellow shorts instead of long pants. And some of the pants (and shorts) are more of an orange hue.

What kind of shirts might match the aforementioned fashion? The answer appears to be: anything. I’ve seen blue, red, striped, button-down and sports jerseys.

Sitting in the shade, wearing a lightweight dress and flip-flops, I’m sweating. There’s no getting around today’s heat.

I wonder if the yellow pants make men cooler?

- Caitlyn Slivinski

LORETO (part VI): It could have been the greatest mistake ever made

THEY CALL THEM ricciarelli cookies and they are the tastiest cookies in the world.


The ones I ate were at the Pirri Rolando Pasticceria in Loreto. The soft, maleable, feather-light cookies tasted like amaretto and sugar and they melted in my mouth.

I started with five cookies and an espresso but I had to have more.

I approached the woman at the counter and asked, "Un quatro kilo, per favore?"

She laughed for a second and then said in Italian, "Do you want 400 or 500 cookies, because that is how many four kilo's will get you. You want a 'quarto kilo,' no?"

"Oh," I replied with a smile. I had meant a quarter kilo. "Si."

Then I watched her gently toss 33 cookies into a paper bag.

I should have stuck with the four kilo's.

- G. Miller

Sunday, July 30, 2006

SIROLO (part II): Dinner straight from the Sea

I REALLY DO LOVE working for my food.

For some reason a bag of naked green pistachios don’t taste as good as they do after being pried through their a hard shell.

The tongue testing mouth maneuvers needed to de-shell a sunflower seed makes an equally admirable and rewarding snack.

However, as I stare down at the seven “grilled shrimp” that look more like dwarfed lobsters on my dinner plate, I am caught off guard.

I had ordered a fish dish figuring that it would be fresh and delicious, served in the town of Sirolo. After all, I could see the home of my future dinner, the Adriatic Sea, from the town’s main piazza.

I am starving and now I have to make my way through each hard red shell and scrape out the meager meat inside. How does one go about eating these without totally grossing out their surrounding fellow diners?

I glance to my left at Berit, who has previously voiced her repulsion towards all seafood. She stares down in polite silence that does little to mask her disgust.

To my right Annie looks at me apprehensively. Highly allergic to shellfish and without her medication in Italy, my plate is essentially a death wish.

I tentatively take a shrimp and begin sawing, cracking and crunching through its little body. Pink meat is exposed in the tail. I question the edibility of the squishy brown guts in the abdomen.

An eyeball and antennae break off.

I’m reminded of a high school biology class. I crack another shrimp and a piece lands on Annie’s shirt. Some ends up in my hair. It’s going to be a long dinner.

By the end my plate looks like a war zone. Legs, eyeballs, antennae, cracked bodies and guts are smeared across my plate.

For all that work I’m still not full and thinking ahead to a gelato dessert.

All that takes is a spoon.

- Philly Petronis

EDITOR'S NOTE: The seven shrimp were huge (about 8 inches long), unadorned and whole. They appeared to be taken directly from the Sea, grilled and placed on Philly's plate.

And she ate them all.

Her determination was impressive.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

CAMERANO (part XIV): Ciao to everybody!

THE CAMERANO PROJECT officially ends today, with most of the students leaving the town for home or further travels.

And we here at Andiamo, a venture loosely connected to the Camerano Project, are heading home as well.

Despite the staff returning to America, we will be updating the site daily for the next few weeks.

We still have a lot of stories to tell.

The image above was taken on our first day in Camerano. It's rather symbolic of the town (in my opinion, at least).

- G. Miller

Friday, July 28, 2006

PORTO RECANATI: It all started with the 'fro

LAST NIGHT WAS the grand party to celebrate the completion of the inaugural Camerano Project.

The website is already online and the students are still in Camerano.

Impressive, eh?

Check out the student's work at

For the party at Pininpero, a nightclub on the beach, graduate assistant Chas Davis went all kind of Starsky & Hutch on us.

And that was just the beginning.

Chas broke the ice on the dance floor, shaking and shimmying with student Mark Rowan.

The Travel Girls mingled with the kids from the project.

Jennifer Adams and Averyl Dunn got their groove on.

Then everything went crazy.

Berit tried to drag grad assistant Nikki Luccarelli into the Adriatic Sea.

Even though Berit couldn't get Nikki into the water, everyone else decided to take a swim ...

Including the local Italians, many of whom dipped into the sea in their tighty-whities.

And then they wouldn't put their pants back on (although Allison Fisher, right, didn't seem to mind).

Congratulations to the students of the Camerano Project for surviving and flourishing under extreme conditions.

- G. Miller