For the past two years, we have changed our time spent in Italy from one six month stay to two-three months stays one in the spring and one in the fall. We have also tried to fit in short trips, even just an overnight one, to some destination outside of Umbria as often as possible. This fall, we took the family down to Puglia for five nights and spent three nights exploring the Prosecco Road the following month. This month we decided to head to Le Marche, a neighboring region that is similar to Umbria in many ways. We learned of a white truffle festival in Acqualagna, a small town in Le Marche that is famous for its white truffles. Acqualana has a population of just around four thousand inhabitants but attracts over two hundred thousand people to its festival, which is held over three weekends each fall. Since Acqualagna is only thirty minutes from Urbino, we decided to stay in Urbino for the first two nights of our trip, and then move on to Fano the last night. Fano is a lovely town along the coast, where we’ve been several times over the years. I have been hoping to visit Urbino ever since following a photographer on FaceBook that takes fantastic photos of the town. It has rained for days on end this month, and in fact, the day we left Umbria for Urbino, it did in fact rain, but the last two days of our trip were sunny and mild, just perfect for exploring.
Urbino is a walled city in central Italy that is famous for the turreted, 15th-century Palazzo Ducale. Inside the palace, the National Gallery of the Marche features paintings by Titian and Raphael, who was born in Urbino. It is evident once you are in Urbino that the town is very proud of the fact that they are the birthplace of Raphael. Urbino is not a large town but sits high up surrounded by walls. The city has very narrow streets and is a limited traffic zone, so getting into the town is tricky. When looking for a hotel, I wanted one within Urbino, but I needed a hotel both with parking and one that would accept small dogs. The Albergo San Domenico was perfect. It is located right across from the Palazzo Ducale. It has a small parking area in the courtyard that you can reserve a spot for your car for a small daily fee. The rooms were pretty basic, though large and clean, and it was the perfect base for us to explore Urbino and the small towns dotted throughout the countryside. Despite the fact that Urbino is a limited traffic zone, you are allowed to drive up to the piazza where the hotel is located to park your car. Urbino is small, so you can and should explore on foot anyway. The hotel was very affordable, and had the best location in town!
Urbino is a university town that was very obvious once we were there as there were young people everywhere. The town was gorgeous, though, extremely well kept with steep, narrow cobblestone streets that wound up and down from one end of town to the other. I also was quite impressed with how clean the city was, especially being a university town as the streets were immaculate. We soon found out that one really does not need more than one night in Urbino as it is small enough to explore in one day.
On our second day in Le Marche, we headed to Acqualagna where the white truffle festival was being held. Like we always do, we arrived just as folks were setting up before the throngs of tourists began to arrive. Being famous for its truffles, the town is studded with many stores selling truffle products of every description. As well, there was a large exhibition area where folks from all around Italy were selling their products. Within the center of town, booths were set up by local truffle companies, and stalls were selling many foods to enjoy, almost all of them topped with truffles. Acqualagna also has a truffle museum that we visited, and it is well worth the small entrance fee. I found the museum very professional and informative and had all the information in both Italian and English. It is very easy to spend an hour or more in the museum learning everything you could ever want to know about truffles!
For our last night in Le Marche, we decided to head to Fano, a town that I love and one we have spent quite a bit of time in over the years. This was our first trip to Fano that wasn’t during the warmer summer months, but the town was still the same with folks riding their bikes through town as they attended to their daily chores. We stayed in a hotel just outside of town called Castello Montegiove. We were given a lovely room within the tower decorated with antiques. They also have a new annex area with more modern rooms sitting just adjacent to the main building. The hotel overlooks a golf course and has lovely grounds, including an infinity pool. Although the hotel was tranquil the night we were there, I can imagine that it is much busier during the warmer months. The hotel also has a lovely restaurant, onsite.
As for food, which usually dictates our choice of travel destinations, we ate at two well-known restaurants in Urbino, enjoying truffles and local specialties such as passatelli. We also took a visit to Pesaro to Ristorante Moletto for an extravagant Sunday seafood lunch. Despite being out of season, all the restaurants were full on the weekend, so I would recommend making reservations or you may not get in. We even returned to a favorite pizzeria in Fano for lunch as my husband who is very picky about his pizza, always enjoys having pizza there. On top of eating very well this trip, we even managed to squeeze in a couple of stops at two of my favorite outlet stores, Piero Guidi, and Nero Giardino. All in all, it was an enjoyable trip, and we returned home to Umbria very satisfied.
Albergo San Domenico
Piazza Rinascimento 3,
Urbino, Italy, 61029
Ph: +39 0722 2626
Strada Comunale di Monegiove 26,
Fano, Italy, 61032
Ph: +39 0721 864123
Ristorante Antica Osteria Da La Stella
Via Santa Margherita, 1, Urbino
Ph: +39 0722 320228
La Trattoria Del Leone’ Di Lucarini Mauro
Via Cesare Battisti, 5, Urbino
Ph: +39 0722 329894
Italian Seafood Restaurant Moletto
Viale Zara 75, Pesaro
Ph: +39 0721 34880
Pizzeria Ristorante Bella Napoli
Piazza F.lli Rosselli 7, Fano
Ph: +39 0721 800035
Around Le Marche
The Food of Le Marche
Deborah Mele 2019