Back to the Piazza della Libertà. At Macerata´s central square, the hub of city life one can see apart from the the University building, the Lauro Rossi Theater, the Prefecture Hall and the Town Hall.
The Town Hall sits at the very center of the square. The building was constructed at the beginning of the 17th century by Antonio Ossuccio, who was soon succeeded by the architect Giambattista Cavagna, while he was in the Marche for the works on the Basilica of Loreto.
The façade is in neoclassical style: a portico with large arches supported by pillars and crowned by an elegant stone balcony develops along its entire width.
Inside, in the seventeenth-century courtyard with arcades, there is a collection of archaeological finds from the excavations of Urbs Salvia, Ricina and from Rome. The collection presents finds from different eras and types, from the cinerary urn, to the dolium, to the altar, to the funerary stele, various Etruscan, Roman and Hebrew epigraphs.
On the building the image of the Madonna della Misericordia was placed, in 1952, with the inscription Civitas Mariae.
Among all these interesting buildings, the imposing – 64 meters high – Civic Tower stands out. “La Torre Civica”, whose interior can be visited, offers a superb view of the surrounding area, one of the numerous breathtaking views of the Marche.
Since 2015 this Tower has been enriched with another very interesting and certainly valuable element: the reconstruction of the ancient Planetary Clock (Orologio Planetario), which twice a day, at 12 and at 18, invites you to admire the carousel of the Magicians in honor of the Virgin, who comes out of a door passing in front of a little bird that rings a bell with its beak.
The Macerata planetary clock was made in 1500’s by the master watchmakers Giulio, Lorenzo Maria and Ippolito Ranieri, based on a similar clock made in Venice. The clock was removed in 1882 and a commemorative plaque of Vittorio Emanuele II was placed in its place.
The peculiarity of this clock is that it is not simply “astronomical” but “planetary”, that is, it represents planets of the solar system, which was already known at the time of the creation of the original clock. The Polychrome dial, in addition to indicating the hours, shows the apparent motions of the Moon and the Sun and the circuit of the 5 planets known at the time by the creators – the Ranieri Brothers.
Here is a video of the day of the inauguration of the Planetary Clock in 2015, were at the precise strike of Midday, we can see the Magicians appearing again for the first time after more than a hundred years.
The two main commercial streets of Macerata start from both sides of the Town Hall. Corso della Repubblica – one of the most elegant junctions in the historic center of Macerata – on the left and Via Antonio Gramsci on the right.
On this street, a few meters inside the square to your left, you will find the Bar of Romcaffè – Macerata’s famous coffee. I strongly suggest that you make a stop there to taste it.
Romcaffè, is in my opinion is, along with the Neapolitan coffees Kremoso and Kimbo, one of the best espresso coffees.
The Romcaffè factory was founded at Macerata in 1925 by Elio Romagnoli. Such unique is this coffee´s taste, that even the famous author Dan Brown made a special mention about it at his book “Angels and Demons”:
“The feast was sumptuous. They dined together by moonlight … sitting on their balcony … savoring frisée, truffles, and risotto. They sipped Dolcetto wine and talked late into the night. Langdon did not need to be a symbologist to read the signs Vittoria was sending him. During dessert of boysen-berry cream with savoiardi and steaming ROMCAFFE’…”
Apart from tasting this exquisite of … literary interest coffee, at the bar you can also buy art collection duets of cups for espresso and cappuccino with their saucers, painted by the Macerata artist Stefano Calisti, which depict in bright colors the characteristic hilly landscape of Marche.
Speaking of literature, I must tell you that Macerata is a town that loves reading and has many bookstores. The two central – Bottega del Libro and Feltrinelli – are both located at the other main street – Corso della Reppubica. In fact the one is just opposite the other and they are both opened every day, including Sundays. We have spent tenths of hours at both of them – at the culinary department of course. At the Feltrinelli bookstore one can also find a big collection of books in English, while in both one can find many interesting books and albums about Macerata, as well as the whole region of Marche.
If you want to buy some sweet gifts with character, do visit the notorious Talmone store, which is situated at the Corsio della Repubblica since 1920, opposite to the two before mentioned bookstores. This store with its beautiful windows overlooking the Corso, houses the most important brands in the field of sweets and chocolate: well-known brands such as Venchi, Lindt and Caffarel are flanked by niche products such as Domori, Amedei, Slitti, Bodrato, Gobino, Giraudi. But at Talmone you can find not only sweets of all kinds: the store owes much of its fame to the creativity of its staff who are able to create refined, never trivial and always original packaging and favors.
(to be continued)