2016 is coming to an end, but there’s still time to capture snapshots and emotions. We’re doing that by coming back to the municipalities worst affected by the earthquake, in order to share the actual feeling that the deafening silence descended after the shocks on October 26th and 30th is giving way to a melting pot of voices and noises which is slowly reconnecting everyday life with its essential elements.

A rhythm imposed by the first steps of a reconstruction that won’t see the light of day until spring, but in the meantime, is making us focus on a crucial issue: this part of Le Marche region has not the slightest intention to stop breathing and remains faithfully attached to its mountains so full of suggestions.


Henche the spontaneous desire to tell how it is possible to reach those places and admire their charm, even during the Christmas holidays. That’s right, we can still decide to visit Macerata and surroundings, traveling to Belforte del Chienti, Caldarola Cessapalombo, Caporotondo di Fiastrone and Serrapetrona. Of course you should take the necessary precautions, such as getting information about earthquake-related road issues and closures, and avoiding red zone areas. But you can still live in those villages – indeed you should do so.


Let’s try together. We could start from the old town centre of Belforte del Chienti and admire the Polyptych by Giovanni Boccati in the Church of Saint Eustace. Going down the road, we’d reach the deconsecrated church of San Sebastiano, ready to reveal its fourteenth-century frescoes, and the MIDAC (International Dynamic Contemporary Art Museum). And we couldn’t simply walk away when standing in front of Palazzo Bonfranceschi, a historic house converted into a Bed & Breakfast, which is currently sheltering people left homeless after the earthquake.

If hunger becomes unbearable, we could immediately placate it by stopping at the cheese factory & farm Di Pietrantonio for a cheese feast and a taste of coppa, one of the most typical cured meats of Le Marche region.


Once the taste buds are satisfied, why not move to Serrapetrona for a journey between art and taste? Beginning with the Church of Saint Francis with the Polyptych by Lorenzo d’Alessandro and  continuing with Palazzo Claudi, where we can discover the skeleton of a prosaurolophus (that’s true, a dinosaur that “mysteriously” traveled from the States to the Sibillini mountains) and the unique history of the Claudi family, linked to a series of inventions; moving forward, we couldn’t miss a tasting of Vernaccia by Lanfranco Quacquarini, a historical wine maker linked to a tradition that knows how to appeal to contemporary taste.


Caldarola is among the municipalities most evidently damaged by the quake, yet the hamlet of Pievefavera is one of those corners that could steal your heart, with his thirteenth-century castle (that can only be admired from the outside, unfortunately), his old town centre that appears to have withstood the quake without damage and a view towards the reflections of lake Caccamo.


Mile after mile, bend after bend, we could hike towards Contrada Castello di Cessapalombo and reach the organic farm Maurizi Luigino and get lost among the flavors of their jams. And of their legumes, cured meats and meat… allowing ouselves a few extra minutes to understand the hard work required by each saffron pistil.


On our way back, still overwhelmed by temptations, instinct would suggest to take a small road in the surroundings of Contrada Colvenale di Camporotondo that leads straight to the organic farmhouse “Al respiro del bosco,” a place of excellence created by a Venetian family that, like many others, has chosen our region to start over.


To start over: the perfect verb to instill and fuel curiosity about these magnificent “containers” of art, history and taste. Places where residents are now starting to see a future again.

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(Special thanks to Erika Carassai and Ciro Gentile, who worked hard to organize the media tour # 5BORGHIDASCOPRIRE, which took place on December 10 in the municipalities mentioned above. And many thanks to the bloggers and the Instagramers who helped bring the light back after the fear. Specifically, Chiara Palmieri and Vissia Lucarelli for allowing us to share some of the photos of the places we visited).


Story and photos by Andrea Braconi