Cupra Montana – Verdicchio Capital. Home to the white wine Verdicchio, Cupramontana has what it takes to make you feel comfortable while sampling wine and local dishes. Since it’s my hometown, it was challenging to have the tourist’s gaze and try not to be too obvious. To make things clear from the beginning, I am more attached to Poggio Cupro, a hamlet of Cupra Montana, than to the village itself, and this is also where Isabelle and I live (actually where I was born), so we decided to start our journey right here.
Bar da Lino | 8 a.m.
When in Italy, do as the Italians do. So, let’s kick off this 24Hours with a proper Italian breakfast: croissant, cappuccino & newspaper (better if a local one). In Italy bars have free newspapers on the tables, ready to be read by every client. We chose the little bar in Poggio Cupro and we sat down, trying to awake our sleepy minds, and listened to the incredible story of Lino, the owner. He, together with his wife Marcella, has been behind the counter since 2011, but in the 70s he travelled all around the world as a waiter on cruise ships. Top: look for the vintage photo of the cruise ships, while tasting the delicious brioches.
Poggio Cupro | 10 a.m.
We left the bar and walked to the hamlet of Poggio Cupro. Once a fortified monastic monastery, Poggio Cupro is a cosy hamlet, with a central typical piazzetta. The Church is always open on Sunday morning, otherwise the sexton has the key to it. Inside, the fresco of Saint Floriano from 1460, the oldest image of the Saint in the Marche, and a wooden statue of Christ.
Eremo dei Frati Bianchi | 11 a.m.
A decision has to be made. Fancy a walk into the wild? If yes, park in the cemetery of Poggio Cupro (direction Cupra Montana) and take the first sand street on the right. Don’t be afraid of the barking dogs, walk past the farmer’s yard and follow the path until the edge of the forest. Go up to a steep road and you can find the monastery’s entry. If you prefer the reliable and comfortable car, go down past Poggio Cupro, follow directions to Apiro and park on the left near to the Agriturismo La Distesa.
The hermitage is a little jewel in the middle of the woods. It has important traces of white friars (from the colour of their habit), who started the Camaldolese order. They lived in little caves, that you can see on the left, dug into the tuff. Top: spot the so-known miraculous fountain. It is believed that this water could heal eye problems, but don’t drink it. I am not sure it is drinkable anymore.
Pranzo by Fiorina|12.30 a.m.
Tummies are rumbling! Depending on how long your tummy is able to wait for, we give you 2 tops. The first is near the Eremo, Trattoria Da Fiorina. Just turn left until the gas station and there you are. Actually, the gas station belongs to the owner of the Osteria, Antonia, and the wine house, as well. Antonia is Fiorina’s daughter: a revolutionary woman that opened the Osteria in 1933 to offer sardelle (a kind of anchovy on salt) to carts coming from the mountains and bringing supplies to the valley inhabitants. There was not only an Osteria, but a grocery store, as well. The road nearby was built by the war’s prisoners and the position of this Osteria was quite strategic. Indeed, it was not only that: in 1937 the owners opened a wine canteen that was completely renewed in 2011. In 1938 it hosted also a primary school! Fiorina was the first woman in Cupra Montana to obtain a driving licence, and this is maybe the reason why she wanted to open a gas station right near her place in 1953. From 2006 the Osteria is officially recognized as a restaurant, but don’t expect a fixed menu: every day there is a traditional meal consisting of a primo, secondo and dolce. Price / quality very good! It focuses mainly on working clients, therefore it is open only during lunch time. Top: try to go through the history of Antonia’s family thanks to the photos on the dining area, and try to guess which honourable prize won Fiorina in her beautiful traditional dresses.
Pranzo by Trattoria Anita | 12.30 a.m.
If you can wait a little longer, drive up to Cupra Montana and have a seat at Trattoria Anita, in the historic centre. Sharing the same name tradition as Fiorina, also Anita was the mother of the current owner Yole of Yolanda, who now runs the Trattoria together with her husband Donatello. Walking down the alley you can see old women working in the kitchen and smelling delicious lunch scents: indeed, pasta is still hand made.. As Trattoria wants, there’s no menu, but fresh daily kitchen where baccalà always appears on Friday and the Porchetta on Saturday. Known for its kitchen, don’t get angry if you’re served at the bar if it is particularly full. Open every day for lunch and dinner except Tuesday and Sunday evening.
Abbazia del Beato Angelo | 2.30 p.m.
It’s time for a light walk or a peaceful visit, after a satisfying lunch! So drive towards Apiro, and you can find the Abbey on the left. Or, walk down the hill and admire the beautiful marchigian hills. A splendid example of a Romanesque building from the 11th century awaits with its legendary inhabitant: Beato Angelo. His story mixes with one of heretical and friars. It is easy to park and the monastic community is almost always open. To visit the church you have to ring a bell at the custodian or concierge.
On the way back to Cupra Montana, your attention cannot be drawn to a collector’s gardens: every piece of this vintage collection has its own story.
Historic centre |3.30 p.m.
We suggest to park on the Viale Vittoria, to avoid the parking disc. Starting at the viewpoint, you’ll have an idea on how beautiful the surroundings are, and how strategic the position of this village is. In Cupra Montana, there are two main churches, one of which is at the moment closed due to earthquake damages): San Lorenzo and San Leonardo. Both built in the 18th century, the former has its entrance outside the original walls, and the latter on the piazzetta. San Leonardo church has a miraculous depiction of Mary from the 15th century. She would have prevented the French from using the church as stables: as the legend goes the horses refused to enter and she would have protected the Cuprensers against plague and cholera.
Piazzetta is the heart of Cupra Montana: in Summer events take mainly place here. There are some peculiar elements to pay attention to: on the 8th March of 2018, a red bench was inaugurated to stand up against women violence. One of the house around the piazza gave birth to the most important son of Cupra Montana, Luigi Bartolini, whose manuscript inspired “Bycicles Thieves” by Vittorio de Sica. He was a painter, writer and poet. Top : can you find the right house? 😉
But I think that the most interesting part are the white lines on the ground. A green board explains it all with ancient photos as well: the lines are the original limits of alleys and houses that were on the piazza. It was only in 1970 that the last building was demolished.
There are three gates to access the historic centre: the oldest is the Porta Vecchia, that was until 1500 the only entrance to Cupra, then followed the Porta Nuova, the last gate the Porta San Lorenzo, appeared in the 18th century, as well as the town hall. On Wednesday afternoons or in the morning you can go to the town hall via the large staircase (there is also a lift) and learn something more about the history of Cupra Montana. From a Roman stone in the walls we learn that the name Cupra Montana is after a goddess called Cupra, goddess of fertility and agriculture. Top: somewhere also a Massaccio name appears, can you guess the reason why eventually this name was used?
Last but not least, the MIG, Musea in Caves, namely International Wine Label Museum, Tourist Office, Botanical Garden and Enoteca, all hosted in the cellars of Saint Caterina Monastery. The private collection of tens of thousands of wine labels from all over the world was donated to the municipality upon the death of the owner.
Aperitivo | 6.30 p.m.
Aperitivo time! During the weekends, you can stay at the enoteca and learn something more on the local wines. Otherwise you’ve plenty of choices elsewhere in the historic centre: Bar Ruggero, Bar centrale, Scortechini, Bar Liuzzi and bar Cupra. Remember Italian traditions? Well, regarding aperitivo, they differ event from region to region. In Le Marche, you receive plenty of snacks: little sandwiches, tartine, pizzas and so on. Indeed, we sometimes call it aperi-cena.
Cena | 8 p.m.
Wander makes people hungry, we all agree on that. You can have dinner at Ristorante Gina, Orietta or al Viale. They all have a terrace outside in the summer. Anyone who has to eat gluten-free can go anywhere but especially Ristorante Gina has the biggest choice. Buon appetito!
Lodging | 11 p.m. or later
Feel like 24 Hours are not enough? Well, you can stay overnight in one of the accommodation by Cupramontana Accoglie, and visit what it’s left also the day after!