Tasting the culinary gems of Italy’s Marche region

I tried so many interesting and tasty dishes while I was in Le Marche that I decided to write a separate blog post on this Italian region’s culinary gems. It is quite a rural area so is known for a lot of hearty country-style cooking, and for seafood dishes given its position along the Adriatic coast. As I was travelling alone most of the food I ate consisted of delicious local snacks. I also indulged somewhat in the local wines, which I’ll explain further down.

So let’s start back in Urbino. As this is a university town it is full of reasonably priced bars and cafes offering snacks and student food. I noticed almost everywhere they were offering “crescia sfogliata”, a speciality of the area around Urbino. So I decided to give it a try. I stopped in Caffe Raffaello (Via Raffaello Sanzio 41) , a wine bar close to Raphael’s house that seemed cosy. The owner was very friendly and explained the crescia to me, describing it as a flaky flat bread that can be filled with cheese, ham, herbs or other options. He suggested I try one with spinach and Mozzarella cheese. Here is what he brought me, along with a glass of Verdicchio white wine. The people at the table next to me said I was trying a “very special” thing, and I have to agree, it was really tasty.

cresciaOn my second day in Urbino, after a busy morning exploring the Ducal Palace, I stopped for lunch in a wine bar near to the cathedral, called Tanto Piacere (Via Veneto 29). Here I opted for a porchetta sandwich, a roll filled with delicious (and fairly fatty) roast pork. I’ve tried porchetta in Umbria before and it is one of my favourite things to have when I’m feeling pretty hungry. It also seemed quite commonly on offer in the Marche region. My lunch in Tanto Piacere was pleasant and good value, I’d recommend it as a good place to stop while sight-seeing in Urbino.

Later on in the day, after walking up to the Fortress Albornoz, I had a look in Pasticceria Cartolari. I tried a small local biscuit, and took some time to admire the range of cakes and cookies on offer. The owner was very friendly- we had a chat about Rome and discussed his passion for the poet Trilussa while I tried his delightful coffee. This is a good place for a break after you’ve been walking up and down all the hills in Urbino. Here’s the biscuit counter:

cartolariOn my last evening in Urbino, I decided to try a proper dish. I chose a restaurant called Il Cortegiano, opposite the cathedral, as their pasta looked tasty. I opted for a Tagliatelle made “Urbino style”, which turned out to be with sausage meat and vegetables, all cooked in separate pans. It was fresh, and delicious- give it a try when you visit! I sat in the cafe section of the bar/restaurant but if you are in a group or want something more formal there is a pleasant restaurant section for dinners.

urbinotaglitelleThe next town I visited in Le Marche was Ascoli Piceno. As soon as I arrived here people were raving to me about Olive all’ Ascolana, or olives Ascoli-style– so I decided I had to taste them. For lunch on my first day I spotted Caffe Italia, which caught my eye due to its interesting and well-priced menu. I was also happy to see they had the Ascoli-style olives, which are stuffed with three types of meat then cooked in breadcrumbs. See this Giallo Zafferano video for a full explanation.

As you can see from some of the pictures, I also took the opportunity to try some of the region’s wide variety of wines. Here are the ones I chose and what I thought of them:

1. Lacrima di Morro d’Alba

This is a red wine produced in the province of Ancona. I tried it with my tagliatelle in Urbino and it was probably my favourite of the whole trip. The Lacrima is a rare grape that is not commonly found outside the region. For me the wine tasted fruity and fresh. I’m a fan and I’m going to try to find a place that sells it in Rome.

2. Pecorino (biological, made near to Ascoli)

I have tried the white wine Pecorino before and I already liked it, but this one produced in the Marche region was the best yet. It has the characteristic floral bouquet and is a great wine for an aperitivo.

3. Passerina

I enjoyed a glass of this white wine in front of the Duomo in Urbino. Passerina is a rare grape grown in the Marche region. It was fresh and dry, and slightly acidic– very pleasant darlings!

4. Verdicchio

This is one of the most well-known white wines from the region. It has a pale yellow colour and a crisp taste. It’s apparently ideal to try with fish but I also liked it with the crescia flat bread snack.

5. Bianchello del Metauro

This is another traditional white wine from the Marche region. It has delicate, soft flavour and is a good option for dry white wine lovers.

Of course I couldn’t leave Ascoli Piceno without paying a visit to Cafe Meletti on Piazza del Popolo. This elegant cafe has been around since 1907 and has been visited by the likes of authors Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Sartre. I relaxed amid the stylish art-deco furnishings inside but its portico on the piazza  is also the perfect spot for people-watching. I tried a glass of the Anisette Meletti produced by the cafe’s founder– it was very tasty and I liked the addition of a few coffee beans in the liqueur.

I hope you also get a chance to enjoy an Anisette in Meletti’s when you are in Ascoli Piceno.


Anisetta Meletti






3 thoughts on “Tasting the culinary gems of Italy’s Marche region

  1. So glad someone else appreciates Lacrima – it’s my favourite. Also thanks for the tips about eateries in Urbino. Il Leone is good as well and offers local produce. It can be difficult to find a good place in tourist towns, but I’m going to favourite this page and use it on my next visit.

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