Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
The main Piazza of Mercatello sul Metauro, Italy, where I spent an idyllic holiday at the 16th century Palazzo Donati

The main Piazza of Mercatello sul Metauro, in the Le Marche region of Italy. I spent an idyllic few days here, wandering the commune and meeting the locals who gathered every evening on the Piazza. But the best view of the Piazza of Mercatello sul Metauro was from the third floor window of the 16th century Palazzo Donati, where I had come to enjoy cooking classes and visits to the rich artisan traditions still practiced in the relatively undiscovered part of Italy. Read More

Ancient stone buildings mingle with brightly painted facades in the village of Mercatello sul Metauro in the Le Marche province of Italy

Ancient stone buildings mingle with brightly painted facades in the village of Mercatello sul Metauro in the Le Marche province of Italy. Located about 62 miles west of Ancona, the tiny village is home to only 1,300 residents. Some of the homes were built of stone without the use of mortar. Those that remain are becoming harder to maintain, as very few craftsmen remain who are capable of building in this manner.

In addition to offering visitors glimpses down charming old streets like this one, the commune is home to the 13th century Gothic church of St. Francis, which houses Read More

Beautiful countryside of the Metauro River Valley in the virtually unknown Le Marche region of Italy

The virtually unknown Le Marche region of Italy offers splendid scenery that rivals anything found in the more popular province of Tuscany. I found this picture-postcard view in the Metauro River Valley. The river carved this landscape over the centuries as it wound down from the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic Sea. The result is a gently rolling terrain that is perfect for vineyards and a multitude of other crops. The Metauro River punctuates these pastoral scenes with mini waterfalls and still pools that are perfect for cooling dips on sultry summer days. Read More

My Italian experience in Le Marche, Italy, included lessons on how to make Tagliatelle pasta from scratch at the magnificent 16th century Palazzo Donati

One of the highlights of my Italian holiday in Le Marche, Italy included lessons on how to make Tagliatelle pasta from scratch. The demonstration took place in Palazzo Donati, the magnificent 16th century restored palace where I was staying. Lina often prepares meals for groups staying at the palace. She made the whole process look easy, but it was obvious that there was a lot of work involved. Just kneading the dough was a workout, and rolling it out on the marble table until it was razor thin, took true talent. But as you can see, Lina loves what she does. Her joy absolutely bubbled over as she showed us the tricks of her trade. Read More

I scanned the equipment on the table in front of me with more than a little trepidation. Slicers, dicers, chef’s knives, and immersion blenders waited patiently to be placed in the hands of the talented cooks who had gathered at Palazzo Donati to learn about vegan cooking. Anyone who knows me will shake their head in disbelief that I would attend a cooking workshop by choice. Simply put, I do not cook. I’m lucky if I can prepare an omelette without scorching it. With no home (and thus no kitchen) since 2009, any culinary ability I may have had as a younger woman has evaporated.

Jenny Sugar teaches our group of journalists about vegan cooking

Jenny Sugar teaches our group of journalists about vegan cooking

The only thing keeping me somewhat calm was that our teacher, Jenny Sugar, looked as nervous as I felt. Like me, Jenny’s path to joy has been a circuitous one. Originally from Venezuela, she lived for many years in the U.S., Europe, and Israel, until a fateful vacation to Italy. “I knew instantly that I had to move here,” she said. It took three attempts, but she finally settled in Milan, where she opened a gourmet pasty shop. Read More

Every lane offers postcard perfect views in the tiny village of Mercatello sul Metauro, located in the eastern province of Le Marche

Every lane offers postcard perfect views in the tiny village of Mercatello sul Metauro, Italy, located in the northeastern province of Le Marche. As I wandered the main piazza of Mercatello sul Metauro or the back lanes, I was constantly amazed by the saturated palette of colors found in this little-known region. It didn’t seem to matter what time of day, every scene took on the golden hue of sunrise and sunset. Read More

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