We conclude our Marche tour with a visit to the most beautiful, in my opinion, town of the province of Macerata: the mediaeval jewel of Recanati.
Recanati is situated at the north-east of Macerata at a 20 klm distance. The historic center is found on the top of a hill, built inside mediaeval walls. Like other towns in the Marche region, it is a typical “balcony city”: cities and villages are scattered in large numbers in the wide expanse, between valleys and hills.
When the day is clear, one can even see the Dalmatian mountains, the Mount Conero, the peaks of the Apennines and those of the Sibillini mountains.
The city is quite picturesque itself. Walking on the cobbled alleys, through the characteristic brick houses of Marche, with the flourished windows and the numerous interesting little shops is a really amusing and relaxing experience.
But above all, Recanati is the city of poetry, or “La città dell´Infinito”, as it is called by the locals.
Indeed, this beautiful town of the Marche is famous for being the birthplace of one of the most illustrious Italian poets: Giacomo Leopardi. It is not an exaggeration to say that, the Recanati lives on the vibes of the historical and literary legacy of Leopardi. His spirit is visible throughout the city, making it evident how much the citizens our proud of him.
Therefore, our walk in Recanati is going to be dedicated to the discovery of the places where this great poet lived and took inspiration from, as well as those that are connected to him, in one way or another.
PIAZZA GIACOMO LEOPARDI
At the very center of the main square of Recanati the epic statue of Leopardi stands out. The monument is the work of the Ascoli sculptor Ugolino Panichi. It was built at the end of the 19th century on the occasion of the first centenary of the poet’s birth. The statue portrays the poet in the act of thinking, with a slightly melancholic face, while staring down at the square.
Right behind the statue of Leopardi we can see the Palazzo Comunale, a neoclassical building, which houses the Town Hall. Just like the poet’s monument, it was built on the occasion of the first centenary of his birth.
The 30 meters high Borgo Tower (Torre del Borgo) high is located in front of the left part of the town hall. The monument, which dates back to the 12th century, was once part of the municipal building. The current Ghibelline battlements that can be seen at the top of the tower, were added during a nineteenth-century neo-Gothic revival reconstruction. The civic clock that appears on the side facing the square is over 300 years old.
The tower, which can be visited, houses the MUREC (Museum of Recanati), set up along the seven levels of the monument and it is possible to climb to the top to admire the unique 360o view.
The Venieri Palace (Palazzo Venieri) was commissioned by the nobile Recanatese Cardinal Jacopo Antonio Venieri, after whom it is named and was designed by the architect Giuliano da Majano during the 15th Century.
The internal courtyard still retains the original design, with the capitals of the columns bearing the coats of arms of the families who owned the palace. An arched balcony overlooks the Adriatic coast. Above it stands a clock with the inscription “Volat irreparabile tempus”, which means “the irreplaceable time escapes”.
Palazzo Venieri is also connected to the figure of Leopardi, as it is the seat of the “Giacomo Leopardi” Lyceum attended by the students of the classical high school and the high school of human sciences.
TORRE DEL PASSERO SOLITARIO
This Tower inspired Leopardi to write his very known poem “The Lonely Sparrow” (Il passero solitario), where he deals with one of his favorite themes: loneliness.
Beheaded by lightning at the end of the nineteenth century, the Tower is located in the cloister of the Church of Sant’Agostino, dating back to the thirteenth century. Contemplating this Tower of a rather simple form, one can almost imagine the scene with the poet observing the tiny sparrow and comparing their solitudes.
PALAZZO ANTICI MATTEI
Palazzo Antici Mattei is one of the very first attractions one encounters coming from Porta Marina and following the signs towards the House of Leopardi. It is the house where the Marquise Adelaide Antici, Leopardi’s mother, was born.
The sight of the entrance door almost took me back to the era when the Marquise used to live there. The only dissonance is the two electric doorbells to the left, which seem to have been placed there to remind us of the charmless world we live in today.
PIAZZOLA DEL SABATO DEL VILAGGIO
The microcosm of Leopardi’s adolescent period in Recanati is all encountered in the this square that stretches out in frond of his birth house. The square was immortalized by Leopardi in his poem Sabato del Villaggio (Saturday in the village) written in 1829, from which it eventually took its name.
On the façade of the building found opposite Leopardi’ s house, we can see one of the most emblematic icons of the city: the figure of a woman portrayed as she takes her son in her arms, lifting him as high as she can, while next to them another child is observing the scene.
CHIESA DI SANTA MARIA DI MONTEMORELLO
The church of Santa Maria di Montemorello is also found at the above mentioned square. It has a certain notoriety for being the private parish of the Leopardi noble family, where the poet Giacomo Leopardi received his baptism.
The church dates back to the second half of the sixteenth century, when the brothers Orazio and Pier Nicolò Leopardi decided to rebuilt a pre-existing church from the Middle Ages, in order to give to their family their own chapel, where they could go to pray.
Just opposite the church stands the Leopardi House. Here the poet was born, raised and lived until 1830, when he went to live in Florence for three years, until his definitive move to Naples. At this house he died in 1837, at the age of 38 years old.
The center of it all is the library, set up by his father Monaldo, where Giacomo together with his other two siblings Carlo and Paolina, immersed in what he himself defined as a “crazy and desperate study” from an early age.
Visits to the House, Library and Leopardi Museum can be made from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 to 17:00 (last admission at 16:30). The tickets’ prices are 20 euros for adults and 13 euros for children from 6 to 18 years 13 euros.
ERMO COLLE or COLLE DELL’ INFINITO
Not far from Casa Leopardi there is the beautiful park of Mount Tabor, better known as the “Ermo Colle” (Hermitage Hill) or “Colle dell’ Infinito” (Infinity Hill), overlooking Recanati. This place inspired Leopardi in writing one of the most iconic poems of his – “L’ Infinito” – probably in one of his often meditating walks, while dreaming of “superhuman silences and very deep stillness“.
The Infinity Hill is, indeed the poetic portrait of the horizon of Recanati.
THE POETRY ITINERARY
Before leaving Recanati, do stroll through the streets of the historic center to find signs scattered here and there bearing the verses of the most famous Leopardian poems: printed on posters, hanging on walls and windows in pots, among plants, “blooming” through flowers, in the city market, outside the shops.
By sharing with you some of these verses, we are saying goodbye to the beautiful region of Marche.
“The Gorse, or The dessert’s flower“
Here on the arid slopes of the fearsome mountain, Exterminator Vesuvius, where nothing grows, tree or flower, you scatter around your solitary bushes, fragrant broom, glad of living in desert places. I have also seen you embellish with your stems the solitary countryside that surrounds the city, which once was the lady of the mortals (Rome) and which, with their grave and taciturn aspect, seem to offer travelers testimony and memory of the lost empire … “
“… It still stands frightening and threatens destruction to him, his loved ones and their meager possessions.
And often the poor man on the roof of his rustic house, awake, all night sleepless outside and jumping to his feet several times, explores the path of the dreaded wave of lava, which pours from the tireless belly of the volcano. on its sandy sides and in whose light the marina of Capri, the port of Naples and the district of Mergellina are illuminated.…”