Our local town of Apecchio, in Italian Le Marche, is full to the brim of history. Unfortunatly, they don’t shout about it, and they should be be because it is older than any of the nearby towns , going back hundreds of years BC. It was founded by the Picentinis and it is their good luck symbol, the woodpecker, that sits on the back of a golden ox on the Apecchio coat of arms. Later on, Romans came and built temples and baths and The Knights Templars built a small unassuming church that is still used today. You can find out more about this church in my next post.
Grab yourself a Gelato from Bar Dante on the the main street. It’s all homemade and is yummy. Then cross the road and walk up the steps to the old town. On your way you will see an old grinding wheel from one of the many mills that used to be in Apecchio. They used to produce a great deal of Wode here, and the flowers were ground and used for making a deep blue dye used for dying clothes etc.. Continue up the stairs and turn slightly left, underneath the clock. At the end of this road you’ll find a small square with the Ubaldini Palace, tourist office and a war memorial.
Up here in this small square, the local historian, Leonello Bei, who showed us around the town told us that underneath the square are the remains of a Roman temple to Mars. He had explored it via the only way in, the basement of one of the houses on the square. Now how fabulous would it be to find this in your basement? There are photos of the remains in the museum in the Ubaldini Palace which I will mention later. The Church which is also on this little square is called Chiesa dei SS. Martino e Giovanni Battista after this temple.
Whilst in the old town you can ask the tourist office to let you into the upstairs museum at the Ubaldini Palace. Check when the tourist office is open though as it usually is only open in the morning.
When you walk through the entrance to the Palace you will notice the crest of the Ubaldinis. It is a deer’s head and apparently it comes from when the emperor Barbarossa visited the Ubaldinis in Tuscany and one day he wanted to to kill a deer. One of the young Ubaldinis caught a deer by its horns and invited the Emperor to cut its head. He did and that’s where the crest comes from.
Just past courtyard, you walk up stone stairs that are hundreds of years old to a part of the Palace which is both beautiful and interesting. It is also the town commune. On the wall you can see a reconstruction of how the old walled Apecchio looked. It is the picture on top of this blog.
In one of the rooms you will find a whole treasure trove of old relics in glass cases. You will note the lack of names of the people who have found a lot of these items as it is illegal in Italy to use metal detectors even on your own land. There are also tiles from a Roman bath which was part of a Temple dedicated to Hercules and located just on the top of the mountain above our mountain house.
Downstairs, in the basement, you will find the Fossil museum. There are a lot of them and researchers come here from all over the globe to study them. Down here you will also find the ‘fridge’, the room where they kept food chilled back in the days of the Ubaldinis. The walls are meters thick and you can, even on a hot summer day, see how it would keeep the meat and cheese chilled.
If you are there in the afternoon, you can have a drink on the terrace whilst enjoying the most amazing view.
When you exit the Palace and turn left, you will find the Jewish quarters. There is the tiniest alleyway to separate these quarters from their neighbours for olden days tax reasons. Further up the road there is the Jewish bakery. You can look in and see the oven that was used and as it had no chimney, the walls are still black from the soot.
If you stop at the top of this road you will stand in the place where the drawbridge over the moat used to be. To your left you have a lovely balcony to view the surroundings and relax on a bench.
When you continue, you can follow the road to the left, where Linden trees offer shade, and in June, the most amazing scent. At the end you will find a house, it is privatly owned so one can’t enter, that used to be the German commendant’s HQ in Apecchio 1943 to 1944. The town took quite a beating during these last years of the war, with a lot of locals getting shot in retribution for partisans working in the area until they were liberated by the British.
Now, if you turn right, you can wander along a treelined path with fields to your left and playing fields to your right. At the end of this path you will find a sulphur well. It smells like bad eggs, but everybody I’ve been up there with have drunk some of it. The locals swear that it’s good for you and there was supposed to be a spa built there, but I don’t know what happened to that. It’s not there yet.
This is just the upper part, the old town of Apecchio and I will write a bit about the two gems of the lower town in my next post.