First of all, let me wish you a happy New Year! I hope all your dreams and aspirations come true in the new year. I am looking forward to 2018 with enthusiasm and an unexpected rush of hope. It feels great, like wearing a brand new outfit or cracking open a new book; it’s rich with possibilities. We are all thinking about resolutions and life hacks for the upcoming twelve months. Have you begun making travel plans? What are your travel dreams? Maybe this is the year that you will finally make it to Italy or make it back to Italy.
If you are looking for little known treasures, may I suggest one of the most beloved places I know in Italy, the little village of Urbania. It is in the Marche region, in northern Italy, halfway between the Adriatic Sea and Tuscany. It is three hours by car from Florence and a short bus ride to the warm Adriatic Sea.
This gem is small, quiet, rich with Italian culture and food that is extraordinary, even by Italian standards.
Some of its features include:
- Italian Language Study
- History and Art
- Out-of-this World Food
- Adventure + Rest and Relaxation
It is a place to be slow and quiet and spend hours eating and tasting wine. What follows is a photo journal of my visit to Urbania in 2015. I hope to capture its beauty and simplicity for you.
Italian Language Study
My first solo trip to Italy was June 2015. As a matter of fact, I had never traveled out of the U.S. by myself, and I must say, I was petrified. Yet something inside compelled me to tackle this fear, and I knew it was something I needed to do. To help ease into the experience, I decided to spend the first two weeks with a host family while studying at Centro Studi Italiani language school. This was an excellent idea because, after a slight mishap, I felt safe and met many English and Italian speaking friends while I became acclimated to being on my own in a foreign country. Nestled in the green rolling hills of Urbania, Centro Studi Italiani teaches all levels, even beginners like me. They offer language classes in the mornings with cooking and cultural excursions in the afternoon.
An unexpected bonus was the group of twenty-somethings from the U.S. who came here to learn Italian and receive opera instruction from some of the leading opera masters. Each week we were invited to attend Master’s classes and hear our classmates singing arias from Puccini and Verdi. In addition to improving my Italian, I developed an appreciation for opera! And I learned how to order food, coffee and gelato, all very important language skills.
Out-of-this World Food
Flowers seem to pop up everywhere; even in the food!
Eating in Urbania is nirvana.
Adventure +Rest and Relaxation
If you are up for adventure, try renting a bike for the day. You can either rent a bike from one of the self-rental spots scattered around town, or you can rent a bike (more reliable) from the friendly folks at Happy Bike who are happy to give you maps and suggestions.
If you are looking for a day on the beach, Pesaro on the Adriatic Sea is only a short bus ride away. Catch the bus in Urbania and in about 20 minutes arrive in the lovely little town of Pesaro. The beach is a 10 minute walk from the bus stop. Rent an umbrella and a lounge chair for a few euros and dine on seafood, wine, and fresh pasta at the outdoor cafe. Beach food was never so delicious, but we are talking about Italy!
History and Art
The ancient ceramic art of majolica is well supported in Urbania. Through the ages, rich clay found along the Metauro River has given artisans an abundant supply of material. I had such a good time wandering through town chatting with shop owners (and practicing my Italian) and admiring the beautiful ceramics made by local artists.
In June, flower petal mosaics line the streets for Il Festival di Fiori (festival of the flowers) to commemorate the patron saint of Urbania. It is pretty magical. I walked to town early one morning to get my coffee and was greeted by colorful mosaics up and down the cobblestone streets.
There is so much more to see and experience in Urbania and the surrounding area. Please send me any questions about traveling in Urbania or in Italy. I would love to hear any Italian travel suggestions you might have!