Mystical Trails – Discovering “The Temple of Valadier” in Genga

It is really reducing defining this place misterious…or even mystical…because I would rather say magical! It could be an amazing location for any fantasy film: an octagonal temple framed in mountain’s cave which gets deeper into darkness. If I were an enchantress I would definitely make this place my home (and I do not exclude I’ll become one some day!).

san vittore genga valadier temple

The path to reach the entrance arch to “Temple Of Valadier” is really easy (actually I was expecting something more arduous!) but, for adventures’ lovers there are always other interesting trekking itineraries from near village of S.Vittore or even a speleologycal path inside the obscurity of the cave behind the church (on my “to try” list!).

cave san vittore temple of valadier

tempietto del valadier genga san vittore

Inside the cave, as in all this area, there are water infiltrations coming down from the rocks. As usual, I went there in Converse, but to avoid skids on slippery soil I do recommend more serious shoes!

genga temple of valadier

The Temple Of Valadier in its neoclassical shape and doomed roof was erected here by willing of Pope in 1812. It started to be a pilgrimage site for those seeking forgiveness, but the local population already knew this cave from ancient times and used it as refuge. From these stories comes the other name for which this place is well known: “Refuge of Sinners”. Nowadays even the crude hermitage at the entrance is abandoned, but the uniqueness and mystical strenght of this place is kept untouched.

temple of valadier church genga italy

And from obscurity of the cave, it is nice to think some mythical creatures are hiding while staring curious tourists wandering in faint light!

temple of valadier genga italy

Grannies (& flowers) power! – The unknown spring contest inside Italian villages

For those who “rain water it’s more than enough to feed plants” (even in summer with 40° and first cloud at 10000 km!), for those who “only succulent has a chance to survive” (but the chances will be higher in the middle of the desert!), for those who had granny’s green thumb only while playing with skin paint,

okay, so…for those like me 🙂 …it’s the most wonderful time of the year! There are so many flowers and colors and plants that no one is gonna notice our gardening ineptitude!

appignano spring le marche

But is when the game gets hard…that the grannies start to play!

On time, from the 21st of March, starts a very funny (and not to be missed!) show among Le Marche villages’ sleepy alleys: it’s the competition for “the-best-garden-balcony-doorway-of-the-year”! Through the silent roads, the hardened grannies pull out crockery of every shape, iron pillars of every kind, watering cans and most of all, green plants and flowers hidden in the houses the whole winter!

spring in italian village le marche appignano grannies

And who needs a green thumb if you could enjoy such an amazing show?! It’s definitely far more fun being the silent judge of this imaginary colorful contest (that in the end is not imaginary at all!). Plus the fun of roaming around in tight alleys where no cars are allowed!

So enjoy the show kindly given by these amazing grannies and…may the best win! °v°

flowers grannies italian village spring le marche

villages le marche italian spring flowers

flowers amandola spring plants le marche

flowers italy le marche alleys village

sarnano le marche spring flowers competition plants

appignano flower le marche italy spring

Misfortunes of a country during Napoleonic age

Thefts, art, miracles, battles… it seems that the Napoleaonic age in this slice of Italy has left quite an interesting legacy, in good and bad ways! From 1796 to 1813, when Tolentino Battle ended French power in Le Marche, Napoleon and his family set their residence in this region bringing French policy: personalities with civil merits or political roles acquired noble entitlements and started build neoclassical villas.

napoleon in macerata and ancona province

Our Napoleonic itinerary starts in Macerata province, at that time known as Musone Department, moving from Tolentino battlefield to the white neoclassical interioris of Villa Valcampana (Treia).

valcampana napoleon villa treia macerata

The same columns are protagonist on the facade of Villa Tuscolano in Appignano.

napoleonic villa le marche appignanno

Its jewel is the “esedra garden” (or “ninfeo”), ruined by now but keeping its poetry untouched.

villa tuscolano appignano le marche italy

You can almost hear guests’ laughs or the phantom of the owner Leopoldo Armaroli who whished to be buried in this peaceful place (even though he couldn’t because of Napoleonic Saint Cloud edict). Other stories and legends sourrounds this bucolic villa.

villa tuscolano appignano macerata

On the coast we find Villa Eugenia, Luigi Bonaparte’s property, while Napoleon  slept in Palazzo Torri (Macerata), famous for his semi cycle overlooking the facade, used as carriages’ depot.

The dark side of the story, behind the construction of these architectural masterpieces, is that, withTolentino Agreement, the French troops started the (usual) Church’s artworks spoliation stealing Black Virgin Mary in Loreto cathedral: the holy statue was returned from Louvre after an agreement with Pope Pio VII.

Even more curious is the story of another religious artwork, given back for superstition: the painting of Virgin Mary “queen of all Saints” you can appreciate on the left side of S. Ciriaco Cathedral (Ancona).

all saint virgin mary san ciriaco ancona

It is known that the painted Virgin has opened her eyes in front of some witnesses and the Bishop himself. Curious Napoleon, before burning it, wanted to see the painting but at the sight of the Virgin he turned pale and ordered to his soldiers to cover it with a drape and return it to the Cathedral with all its gold and jewels.

Aren’t you starving after the long walk?!

That’s why we left at the end of our itinerary Portonovo Napoleonic Fort.

Inside Conero natural park, set on a natural bay surrounded by green woods and crystal clear water, the French Captain decided to build this white fort using stones taken from a nearby Benedictine Monastery to prevent the landing of English fleet ships looking for protection in the bay. What it has to do with food? Nowaday the Napoleonic Fort is a renowned fish restaurant! We don’t know if Napoleon liked eating fish…but with such a view from the embrasure we are sure you will! °v°

museum palazzo bezzi tolentino napoleon

St Patrick’s Day in San Germano … drinking beer of course!

There is a festival we really really adore and we would like to borrow from a beautiful green country: Ireland! As it’s almost St Patrick’s Day we are getting ready to celebrate it properly! And “Properly” means of course with a huge tankard of beer 🙂

Our Irish friends are beer masters of long experience (there’s no match!), but we think they will forgive us if along with a Guinness stein this year we drink also an agricultural beer born at the shadow of green Monte Conero (in the end, nobody better than the Irish understand patriotism!).

san germano camerano monte conero

And how could be possibly called a brewery located in the village of San Germano (Camerano, AN) if not SAN GERMANO 18?

beer factory italy camerano

The brewer, started for fun, driven by passion and willing to create an authentic product made with at least 51% ingredients produced by himself: that’s why San Germano 18 is an “agricultural beer” and not a simple artisan one! The plus is that the malt is cultivated here, in a field in front of the brewery, breathing the marine breeze and turning golden under Le Marche sun.

camerano le marche italy

It really is fascinating for beer lovers and even newbies to see the brewery at work: I never realized the job of research and patience there could be behind my beer mug!

In the end what does it take? Grow the malt, toast it, find the right hops to preserve a certain  bitter, crush malt with water to obtain mustfilter a first time, boil it, then second filtering to remove impurities, add yeast for the sparkling effect, last filtering to avoid yeast’s leftovers, bottle up,put the stoppers, now wait 2 months to let the beer referment in the bottle…breathe and finally taste it!

brewery agricultural beer camerano italy

Bur here the funniest part (besides drinking!), are the stories each beer has to tell!

GIANA, THE BLONDE PILSNER

What a pre-roman goddess, procuress of freshwater springs, has to do with beer? Nothing if not considering that water is the main ingredient of all beers! “La Giana” is part of the tradition of this area and almost each village has a spring dedicated to her. Camerano is no exception!

agricultural beer camerano san germano

UPUPA, A HONEY BLONDIE

Hoopoe (Upupa) is a beer full of mystic reminders to past centuries: the Druids used to ferment their beverages with honey to see the future (and with that high alcohol strengh they surely succeeded!). The Hoopoe, as the Celts, always wanders into the woods looking for food while the Druids were always seeking natural ingredients for their potions. Hoopoe is also the name of the farm who gives to San Germano 18 the honey for this recipe…so there was no better name for this blonde!

sangermano18 camerano le marche beer

BUBO’, STOUT BLACK BLACK BEER

Who’s afraid of bogeyman? Known by Camerano’s kids as Bubò?! In traditional legends it represents darkness and man’s fears…so, there is no better way to dispel them than a mug of beer! Guinness addicted will love this dark stout with strong scents of coffee and liquorice.

Of course this is just a small taste (anyway is still 10 am!)…but you should try all 9 tipes before choosing! And if you want to know more stories we are here to help your curiosity 🙂

sangermano18 tipical italian beer

Round of drinks for all & happy St Patrick’s Day! °v°

The Philippus code – Templar Chronicles in central Italy

ancona le marche art gothic church

What are we gonna do at The Picus Post on a lazy morning?

Easy answer! Catch the camera, a take-away breakfast and start following a trail through past centuries and misterious codes looking for symbols left by a XII century Master, architect from Alchemy school: Philippus.

(Very Indiana Jones style but with less action and no Harrison Ford!)

His work joins two churches, at 20 km of distance from one another, both standing white in the morning sun, showing their pallor to inattentive wanderers. The adventure starts from a walk in front of the church of Santa Maria della Piazza.

ancona santa maria della piazza facade

Ancona’s port is behind the corner and a secondary quite and close road hosts this delicate bonbonniere, born on the site of two previous Paleo-Christian churches. Of the beauty of the original building, remains today only the lower part. Through the white marble walls, divided in three orders of blind arches, a sharp look could distinguishes the emblem of the Medieval corporation of sculptors and gouges affiliated to the Templars,from which Philippus comes from: Enfants du Maitre Jacques.

ancona door santa maria church

He designs the whole facade using misterious low reliefs of war, abundance and fertility: a symbolism ascribable to Tempalrs that testify the will of the order to sign this holy place.

ancona le marche gothic

Misterious meanings get deeper in the gothic Cathedral of S. Leopardo and S. Tecla.

central italy town osimo cathedral templar

We are in Osimo now. The same shimmering white, the same Master who signed his work on an incision inside the crypt where are kept relics of the martyrs of Osimo. The crypt is made with 16 different columns taken from previous catholic and pagan buildings.

crypt gothic osimo italy

Also in the white facade of this church, Philippus left a sort of coded message made of symbols and characters which even nowadays raises unresolved questions.

Templars believed the architect could create “alive buildings” to connect people with God, and this church is actually a summary of Alchemy and Numerology.

It is unique to find on a Church’s front door two long snakes with spiral tales which remember the Uro buro snake, symbol of the access to the infinite.

osimo templar uro buro snake

Singular are also the alchemic figures on the rose window: a sirene and other fantastic animals that hide an incomprehensible message behind their grotesque looks.

art italy town osimo cathedral window

osimo le marche cathedral

Instead the chest of King Salomon holding a vase on the front door’s arch is a clear remind to the Master’s corporation.

italian art osimo le marche

Less obscure meanings have other characters such as S. Peter with keys, the low reliefs showing the Apostles and the Virgin Mary or the Baptist with two prophets.

osimo cathedral low reliefs

So, when distractedly wandering in front of these bright facades be aware of the suspicious looks of these strange figures who are going to keep their Master’s secrets for a long time!

(Now you should clearly hear the Raiders’ March 😉 ) °v°

Cicerchia please! (more about “Le Marche in legumes”!)

At the beginning there was my grandma…”

All stories about our territory traditions almost start all alike, also this one, talking about a poor legume, “La Cicerchia”, tasty but with a hard peel, survived through years in this Marche area, in province of Ancona.

Ok, if you do not have idea of what “cicerchia” is, my suggestion is … just taste it!

Mix it with a hint of medieval atmosphere inside the walls of Serra de’ Conti town (Province of Ancona), add some traditional music played by street musicians…and this wonderful plate is ready to be served!

serra dè conti

The inhabitants of the town set up a festival, opening all cellars and basement in the medieval alleys, introducing this legume in a huge variety of recipes and (no need to say!) accompanied by a glass of new wine!

traditional music

tavern

No way to miss this event! We were there to catch the atmosphere and collect some recipes for you! Be aware: try them with the “real” cicerchia, the tiny and tasty one, not the big and insipid variety you usually find in supermarkets. For more info about where to shop go at http://www.labonausanza.it/

recipe cicerchia and mushrooms

Ingredients (for 4): 300 gr tagliolini (long fresh pasta, similar to “tagliatelle”), 200 gr cicerchia, 250 gr mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, pepper, onion, parsley, celery, smoked bacon, salt.

Preparation: boil cicerchia in hot water with onion, parsley, celery and salt. Dry it from water and then pass everything in the vegetable mill to obtain a mash (purèe). In another pot, sauté mushrooms with garlic and pepper. When they’re almost ready add smoked bacon in pieces and pan-fry for a minute. In the meanwhile, cook in boiling water “taglioni” pasta, drain them and mix with cicerchia and mushrooms. Mmmmmm!

serra dè conti

recipe cicerchia salad

Ingredients (for4): 160 gr cicerchia, 1 onion, 1 carrot,1 celery, “santoreggia” leaves (an aromatic plant you can substitute with thyme leaves), salt, pepper, olive oil.

Preparation: first soften cicerchia leaving it in cold water for at least 8 hours, changing the water 2 or 3 times. Then take away the peels from the legume. Boil it in hot water for 40 minutes. in the meanwhile cut into julienne strips carrot, onion and celery and dress them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add some thyme or “santoreggia” leaves. Drain cicerchia and, till is still warm, put it on the salad and mix the vegetables. Easy&fast!

Write & comment for any question!

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