Thursday, January 22, 2004

A Tower and A View

Sunday is Antonello and my day together. It's his only full day off, so we take advantage of it as much as we can--to go traveling, hiking in the mountains, caving. I look forward to it like a kid looks forward to Saturday mornings, yet I'm complete with plans and ideas of what we can do, ready to start our adventure in the early hours of the morning (okay, let's not get TOO crazy, for me early hours include as late as 8 or 9).

Last weekend I spent the week before researching the hill towns of the Ascoli Piceno province, which is just a bit south of Macerata's province. Antonello and I hadn't visited it much, except to know that it was considered the prettiest province in Le Marche by many. Both of us had been to the city of Ascoli Piceno (a day trip there over the summer come to mind, Corrie? :)), but were unaquainted with the province. This was to be a little adventure.

We started out searching for the hill town of Moresco, which is listed on Italy's picks of the "Most Beautiful Towns in Italia." Although I'm not one to always follow such advice, A year back Antonello and I had been lucky to find the town of San Ginesio, here in Macerata's province, to be a real gem--and this was after seeing the town on the list. So we decided to go for it. Moresco, based on photos I had seen, seemed quite nice actually--with a castle-like wall surrounding a small medieval center. We had directions, a map, and Antonello's camera bag. We were ready to go.

Well, Antonello left the map at home in his kitchen. So we decided to follow a road down to the hill town of Amandola, and from there follow signs to Pedaso, a city on the coast. Our directions (that I had printed out from the internet) were from Pedaso, so I didn't understand fully why we were taking a round-about way to get to Pedaso, but I had faith in Antonello. Plus, this was an adventure. It's best to start adventures by following your directions backwards.

Halfway there, past Amandola and another cute town called Communanza, the sun was shining overhead, and we looked up to see--perched like a bird on a branch--this tower on a cliff. It was dreamlike--one of those things you don't just find while driving. I pointed up at it, and Antonello and I stopped the car to take pictures. As we got out to look, we noticed it was a complete town--tiny, but a town nonetheless--with church towers, an old fortress, buildings which could have been homes. I started having hopes that it was on the list, that it was Moresco. But we drove further and discovered its name was Montefalcone Appenino. Moresco, Montefalcone. Close enough. "Let's go there," I said.

So we drove up the dangerous looking hill, curving back and forth until my stomach almost begged us to stop, pausing every once and a while to snap another shot of the city. Finally, as the bells of the church rang, we drove through a tunnel cut through the stone and arrived in the village.

It wasn't much of a village, just a small windy town, but with a view that couldn't be matched. From up there, you could see all of Italy, it seemed, perhaps the whole world. Mountains to our right, snow covered and menacing, shadowed over the peaceful valley below. We took pictures for half an hour, and I just couldn't stop smiling. I stood up there, on a bench looking down over Italy. On the balcony of the country. And, oh, what a country.

We ate lunch at the sweetest little osteria you have ever seen--a place where your grandmother serves you lunch. We filled up on tagliatelle, ravioli, salad, eggplant and zucchini. Then we finished it off with tiramisu' and apple marmalade crostata. And, of course, a caffe.

Leaving the city to find Moresco, we were renewed and hopeful. We drove like this, pointing out cities, almost running into them, the rest of the way to Pedaso. We never did find Moresco that day, but instead we had a revelation that maybe what happens in this part of Italy is the cities find you. The cities tell you where you should go. They pull you in with a tower and a view. And a curvy road. And sunshine.

We decided that someday we'll go back to find Moresco, but even if we don't find it, we know we'll find something else. We'll continue on our little adventure, "accidently" leaving the map at home, in Antonello's kitchen.



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