My untypical Italy: Cammino Francescano della Marca
Or how I was a pilgrim through Le Marche and Umbria
by Lana Kaledina
Within a period not exceeding five years of my life in Italy, I have visited a lot of Italian regions, amazingly beautiful cities with a centuries-old history, sunny beaches washed by the azure sea, mountains blown by fresh Alpine winds. I love Italy for its variety and fullness of sensations it gives me. I don’t get tired to admire, opening to me all its new borderlines.
This time, the treasures of this country were opened to me from a totally unexpected part. By a happy chance, I have got to travel as a pilgrim in the footsteps of Francesco d’Assisi from Ascoli Piceno to Assisi, finishing by the audience of the Holy Father on the place in front of St Peter’s Dome in the Vatican city. The organization Italian Wonder Ways, which has realized this travel offer, has totally justified his title.
The itinerary named Cammino Francescano Della Marca is 160 km long, going through the regions of Le Marche and Umbria, crossing the Apennines, and was intended for 6 days. From a little hotel lost in the tangles of the main streets of Ascoli Piceno to the luxurious Villa with an unbelievable view in the suburbs of Rome. Every night – a new town, every day – new places, new people, new impressions. Every town, every place – a tribute to the memory of Francesco d’Assisi and his deeds. People don’t have to be a votarist to enjoy this travel: walking through green valleys and mild slopes, breathing fresh air, picking cluster of juicy, sun poured grapes, you begin to perceive otherwise this wonderful country.
The region of Le Marche is a sample of the Italian nature people imagine according to the books, the one we see in the movies. Umbria is a treasury of natural resources and cozy ancient towns. Once there, together with other members of our little group we took delight of this wonderful atmosphere, restful and mesmerizing, suiting perfect if you are interested in the Middle Ages time.
I listened to the legends of fairies, I touched the ancient walls of the town-castle of Sarnano, I went down inside underground tunnels and miraculous grotto, I admired the costumed excursion in Foligno, I learned to fight with swords in Assisi and it is not all that I had got to pass through during the 6 days of pilgrim!
Sure enough, besides the mental spiritual food there was the actual food, typical for each place where we stayed. Olive all’ascolana (fried olives stuffed with meat) in a little restaurant with the Italian name Il pepperoncino; truffle lasagne for lunch at one of the abbeys where Francesco d’Assisi stayed beforetime; delicious omelette in a cosy private osteria in Colfiorito. Then the final chic dinner at the hotel Vialla Tuscolana, not far from Rome, where we tasted four different dishes typical from all the regions crossed by the Italian Wonder Ways’ pilgrimages (Le Marche, Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio)! All this to the accompaniment of delicious Italian wine. No wonder Italian cuisine is generally considered one of the most delicious and popular in the world. I had a great opportunity more than once to assure you all of this statement!
My unusual 6 day travel finished in Rome on the square of St Peter’s Dome, where the Holy Father Francesco himself wished us all the best and some parting words, under the bright sun in the Vatican City. And the refill of my telephone directory with new interesting friends! Italian Wonder Ways opened up the possibility to discover a new Italy – bright, inviting, authentic. I could forget about the time and life in a modern town, become closer to nature and history. And for a long time, I will remember the magic emotions that Cammino has given me.