Monday, July 25, 2011

Urbino

So we moved on from San Marino the delightfully anachronistic tax free enclave and drove back into the real world of Italian castles, churches and hill towns. Urbino hove into view and hour south of San Marino.



Urbino is a city of Art and History and History of Art and it's off the beaten path these days though it was very much on the beaten path during the middle ages.




We parked the car outside the city gates as is the modern way in Italian towns where pedestrian zones are enforced everywhere -bring walking shoes. We passed a couple of girls with a ball playing a game I used to play as a kid where you have to bounce the ball in certain ways a certain number of times or forfeit your turn. The explanations droned on as we stumbled past on an increasingly steep down hill.



A botanical garden, who knew? Perhaps we should twin it with the one on Stock Island.




One more magnificent palazzo in the half light.




And the views across the hills of the Marche. One thing I do miss when living close to the Equator, is the long twilight of northern latitudes. It's been getting dark around 9:15 and it takes a long time between the setting of the sun and the onset of total darkness.




The cathedral long since closed but had I known I'd have brought my iPad as it seems to be a wi-fi hotspot.




My wife tried to get online with her iPhone (she has disabled data roaming as it is expensive around here) but the kid apparently knows the secret password.




We had been on the road since eight in the morning in La Spezia on the Mediterranean coast and we were three hours from our bed on winding cross country roads...so we planned to stop for ten minutes and say "been there done that" but reality has a habit of intruding and we wanted a break and we were feeling lazy and the outdoor restaurant looked inviting and I wanted my wife to taste the local Verdicchio.




So we sat down for a quick appetizer. Which wasn't because it ended up a slow food meal at slow speed and the waiter was excellent and the food was better and the night air was warm and we were feeling pretty good.




There was a group of musicians speaking English,after a fashion, at the table next door who had been playing in the town and my wife likes to listen to what's going on around her.




Me I wanted to taste the strozzapreti pasta, the priest stranglers, thick double strings of pasta with a sharp sheep cheese sauce.




And tagliatelle with truffles shaved in this case in large delicious smoky pieces.




Our musician neighbors got flat bread so we had to try the crescia too...




It all went very well with the Verdicchio an astringent delicate white wine with a green tint. A jam cake, crostata, to finish and we rolled off up the hill around 11:30 pm. That's how it goes on an Italian road trip.




I used to play the tuba in the town band in Todi when I lived there and was quite surpassed to see an old sousaphone in a wine store window. Or a 1927 Benelli 175cc in another. Nostalgia rules!




They had rolled up the caets in Urbino by thentime we left.





We drove home through heavy sudden downpours winding this way and that listening to, of all things, Wait Wait Don't Tel Me from NPR on my wife's iPod. Italian road trips can be quite surreal if you have the right equipment.


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