It was time to visit Italy again, but away from the usual hotspots you hear of, it was time to head to Amandola, a beautiful area in the mountains of the Region of Le Marche.
A home from home for me, great open countryside, and a perfect greeting of snow tipped mountain tops with lush green and quiet valleys below.
The drive into the region was so very quiet I could hardly believe it, a hidden treasure indeed! Amandola is so underrated and is the gateway to eastern side of the Sibillini Mountains (Monti Sibillini)
Amandola is situated in the Monti Sibilinni National Park in the province of Le Marche. As far as provinces go it is less visited when compared to Tuscany etc but is no less beautiful. A secret hidden gem almost.
On a map if Rome is to the left of Italy then Le Marche is opposite on the centre right. It is around 50km to the Adriatic Coast so a perfect place to have both mountain and coastal adventure.
Perched on a hilltop it commands the area and to step inside you are greeted by architectural charm from through the ages.
Inhabited by just less than 4000 people I found the atmosphere very welcoming and relaxing.
As you come to the archway to the main square, the medieval Piazza Risorgimento, via the Gate of San Giacomo, you cannot be helped by feeling the pull of discovering what is within the town itself.
Clock towers adorn entries to some of the bustling piazzas. Time has been watching over the passage of time. Cobbled streets take you in different directions. Narrow and obviously built in the ancient Roman style. And then throughout the ages, buildings have been added yet the style and grace has been kept.
There are some really interesting individual buildings that either catch the eye or contain some interesting history or folklore.
Tower of Podesta
At the top of Amandola is another town square, Piazza Alta. Imposing above it is an old clock tower, The Tower of Podesta. Built in 1352, and partially rebuilt in the 16th century, it holds secrets to myths and legends.
A tale of a Robin Hood type legend is made here. Carved into the tower, into the stone are the following words:
di taglie usuralo
tiranno et rebelle
di santa chiesa.
It talks of a man named Morgante Manardo, a bandit, a rascal, a rebel.
Manardo lived in the 16th Cenury in a time when the church was rich and charged the poor for everything, even taxing the farmers for what they sowed.
He fought to take from the rich and give to the poor of Amandola. The people of the town loved him, and threw great celebrations for him, a great warrior looking after them. Of course, to the church though he was a rebel and a bandit.
In 1597 he was caught and beheaded about an hour north of Amandola in Macerata. His head was said to have been brought and hung in this clock tower to warn the locals.
Amandola Theatre – Teatro La Fenice
Just a short distance down the hill near the clock tower is the Theatre, Teatro La Fenice.
Such a fascinating building to visit in its own right. La Fenice theatre in English translates to The Phoenix and the theatre in original form dates back to a period when the wooden town, when fires where obviously prevalent, was turning to stone.
The Phoenix rose out of the ashes so to speak.
Originally built as a shorter narrow theatre in the 17th century it has grown nothing but upwards as you can see. Centuries of renovations and introductions of new theatre fashions has shaped it into what you see today.
It has the unmistakable style of many 19th Century Italian theatres and after much restoration was open and in full use again from the 1990s after closing in the 60s.
The decor and height gives a real sense of big grandeur yet deceptively with the width it has seating for just around 120 people.
I could see from the sign outside and the goings on by the stage that this was a place very much functional and very much in use for a whole range of productions. A remarkable local amenity for Amandola.
Even looking right up at the ceiling you can see the fine detail that has gone into this beautiful interior. Paintings of cherubs, the town insignia and much much more to capture the eye and thoughts.
Walk The Streets
A you walk around Amandola you really do get a sense of the setting. Through the gaps in the houses you see the rolling hills and then snow covered mountains behind. Spectacular to see.
There is definitely a sense of humour about town too! This sign, for the carpenters says they are very sorry but they are away on holiday from 23 Dec to end of December the next year. Italy time equals relaxed time.
Walking through the town and Piazzas there are street views beyond street views and always a view out to the mountains. Quite a perfect place to slowly wander or watch the world go by, with an aperitivo. or sit in the sunshine with a lunchtime pizza.
Back down on the main, bottom piazza you will find not just wonderful places to eat and drink but also historical churches and monuments to catch your interest like the Church of Sant’Agostino and the Town Hall buildings.
I have since returned to Amandola and certainly shall again in future. A beautiful quiet part of Italy that needs to be explored.
A place I love to stay near here is La Conca. Wonderful hosts and amazing food.