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If you have picked up a travel magazine anytime over the past 20 years, I am sure you have been given advice regarding travel spots in Italy. Italy has been and has stayed one of the most traveled destinations of all time, most particularly Rome, where the city’s amber light and historic wonders fill you with a romance rivaled only by Paris. Outside of Rome, tourists have continually flocked to Florence, Venice or Pisa for great art and architecture.

Yet, over the past 10 years or so, Tuscany became the greatest destination spot outside of Rome as agritourism flourished. Vacationers flocked to the hills for great food, wine and olive oil. The English bought villas and implanted themselves as they had done in France for generations. Tuscany was then followed by Umbria, and now even a bit of Romagna (holding its beloved city of Bologna) as a sure hit on the list. Yet remarkably, Le Marche was somehow missed…   but not for long. 

Like a quick-eyed bird hunter, I have already spotted the English lounging in countryside villas and combing its medieval towns. In addition, the AARP has deemed it one of the top places to retire in the world. Thus, sadly, Le Marche will not be my little secret, but then again, why keep something so beautiful to myself?

I have been lucky to have the opportunity to travel Le Marche and get to know its treasures in an intimate and almost familial way. Within its regional borders, one can sample a taste of all Italy has to offer. From its hills of sunflowers to its coastal seas; from its medieval towns to its legend filled mountains; from Roman ruins to modern shopping—Le Marche has EVERYTHING.

Since I am a gastronomic lover, where discovery of a culture begins with my palate, this trip to Le Marche was designed to follow the dish—and from the dish to the preparer, and from the preparer to the belevedere. From the tiny to the great, I would learn something I hadn’t learned before.

I could still hear my suitcase rolling out of the terminal and onto Italian soil when Presto! I am sitting in an apartment being fed spaghetti con vongole (spaghetti with clams)—the Adriatic Sea burst in my mouth as these tiny clams said hello. From that moment until I had my last bit of gelato on the return flight from Rome, this particular trip was a journey of the senses I had not expected, and I have the extra pounds to prove it.

I hope you enjoy reading this journey… it all starts this week. Benvenuto!

Elise McMullen  a.k.a. The Galavant Girl


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