Our readers are following us throughout our Italian vacations. My husband Alex, our daughter Sofia and I have been spending the months of June and July in my home region, Tuscany, in particular, my hometown Colle di Val d'Elsa, located on the road between Florence and Siena. My mother, family and friends are enjoying our presence "at home," so we do. However, we also have travel plans beyond day trips to cities such as Florence, Siena, Montepulciano, and Cecina and Follonica on the Tyrrhenian Sea, with the first being a week in Pesaro, in the Marche region, on the Adriatic Coast, and the second one being a 10-day trip to Germany to visit my husband's relatives.
Italy is a great place to be in any time of the year since it offers so many different vacation options. Mountains such as the Alps and the Apennines are ideal for skiing during the winter or hiking in the summer months. One can choose a more cultural vacation simply by visiting various historical cities and towns, or one can visit one of the hundreds of beaches along the Italian coasts. From my hometown, one can easily reach the Tyrrhenian coast in one hour-and-a-half, while it is three to four hours to the Adriatic coast. Since we are quite familiar with the closest beaches, this year we decided to explore the regions of Emilia Romagna and Marche, where we would enjoy great food and wonderful tourist destinations for both the young and old.
Spending one or two weeks in a hotel with all-inclusive services is quite popular, especially among families with children and the retired. Upon the suggestion of our neighbors in Colle di Val d'Elsa, we booked a week in a hotel in Pesaro from Sunday, June 24 to the following Sunday. We chose a family-friendly budget package including a room, three meals, and a spot in the local bagno (bathing establishment) "Sergio," with a reserved beach umbrella and sun loungers.
Top photo — Pesaro: Piazza del Popolo (People’s Square) with fountain (XVI century) in foreground of the Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace). Above — Chiara, Alex, and Sofia in Pesaro in front of the “Ball of Joe Pomodoro,” a Pesaro-native sculptor. The globe represents the corruption of the world.
The Hotel Bellevue, established, owned and operated by the Signorini Torri family since 1980, is right on the beach, centrally located along the seafront of Pesaro. For both lunch and dinner, one can choose from three different first courses of pasta and soups and from three different entrees featuring either seafood, meat, or vegetables, so one is always sure to find something appealing to his or her palate. Before the main meals, one can also choose from a rich buffet, offering salads and cold dishes. Needless to say, everything was delicious! After dinner, a pastry chef, Mr. Lamberto (who also disclosed his passion for painting and sculpting sea stones), proudly offers the guests specialties from among his wonderful homemade cakes: every night, one can choose between 10 different desserts. Truly an incredible selection! To be able to indulge in these treats every night, my husband and I made sure to jog on the beach or on the promenade every day; it was much more enticing to jog outside, taking in the maritime breezes, than to settle for the treadmill in the hotel gym! The treatment in the hotel is highly personalized, with the staff immediately learning the names of the children and always being prepared to meet the individual needs of the customers, such as washing a baby bottle or other child cutlery.
During the week, we were able to make some excursions, even if we did not explore all of the sites and amusement parks that tourists can visit in the Emilia Romagna and Marche coastal regions. We decided to visit the Acquarium in nearby Cattolica since our daughter is a big fan of marine animals: we even ended up finding Nemo (or at least a clown fish) there! Though I was eager to return to a park celebrating Italy and its monuments in miniaturize replicas (L'Italia in miniatura), we decided to cater to our daughter Sofia's tastes by visiting a park called Fiabilandia (Fairy Tale Land), designed for little ones and similar to a miniaturized Disneyland or Disney World.
Beyond the amusement parks, one can certainly visit centers of art such as Bologna and Urbino, but nearby one also finds the Republic of San Marino, a very tiny independent state in central Italy, or the Castle of Gradara which was the site for the love story between Paolo and Francesca cited by Dante in his Divine Comedy. If one likes the nightlife, coastal cities such as Rimini, Riccione, and Cattolica offer you a great variety of nightclubs to choose from.
Finally, the area is great for food and gelato, as well as for shopping thanks to the many outlets in the region. But, be prepared to practice your foreign languages; beyond Italians, this region attracts plenty of Germans, Austrians, Russians, and Northern Europeans, making it a European, more than simply Italian, vacation destination. So, if you have the opportunity, be sure to visit Emilia Romagna and Marche!
Chiara De Santi is a professor of Italian Studies at SUNY Fredonia. Her travel series will be running Sundays on the Travel page. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org