Yes, we’re all stuck at home now, but that shouldn’t prevent us from dreaming of our next Italian trip. There are so many undiscovered places besides the usual destinations, including a myriad of tiny historic villages (‘borghi’), and here’s one of them, in the unsung region of Le Marche.
Mercatello sul Metauro is a delightful medieval village in the Marche region, nestled in the green valley of the Upper Metauro river, about 100 kilometers (62 mi) west of Ancona and about 50 kilometers (31 mi) southwest of Pesaro.
Overlooking the valley from its 500 meters of altitude, Mercatello sul Metauro was inserted into Italy’s network of the most beautiful historic villages in 2018, thanks to its well-preserved medieval center.
For a long time a crossroads between Marche, Umbria and Tuscany, Mercatello was the seat of a market twice a week which attracted people from the surrounding countryside, hence its name (in Italian, market is mercato).
The medieval center is accessed through a three-arched Romanesque bridge that passes over the river. Of the four 16th-century access gates, only one remains, Porta Metauro.
Strolling through the village, there are several historic buildings and churches to see, including the ancient parish church of San Pietro d'Ico, which later became the church of Saints Peter and Paul, the building around which the village was founded in the 10th century; and the Gothic church of St. Francis from the 13th century, with a notable collection of paintings, including a portrait of Federico da Montefeltro, one of the most successful condottieri of the Italian Renaissance, and lord of Urbino from 1444 until his death.
The typical food product of the area are the so-called ‘tacconi’, handmade pasta made with eggs, wheat flour and fava bean flour, similar to tagliatelle. Truffle is also a specialty that you should not miss.
As for events, the ‘Palio del Somaro’ is an ability race on donkeys that involves the whole village taking place in July.