The towns of Fano, Torrette and Marotta, along a twenty kilometre stretch of coastline, hold the gastronomic secrets of fish cuisine which have been developed over time into a rich art. Experienced cooks, as well as those who simply enjoy good food, have learned how to transform fish into dishes which are true culinary masterpieces.
The Adriatic sea is one of the richest areas for fishing, history and culture and those who fish its waters know how to make the most of the opportunities of all that the sea has to offer. It is therefore no surprise that fish is the main element in the gastronomic tradition of the province and that hundreds of restaurants provide an infinite number of ways to prepare it. Brodetti alla marinara (a variety of different fish cooked in broth), tender frutti di mare (in particular vongole (sea clams) and mitili (mussels) but also lumachine (sea snails) and 'garagoi'), seppie (squid), merluzzi (hake), sgombri (mackerel), sogliole (Adriatic sole), cannocchie (razor clams) and 'trufelli', fish which is pan-fried, grilled, or roasted in paper, in pastry or even in crusted salted - there are so many fish specialities available, all served with that gentle but decisive local wine.
Bianchello del Metauro. If you enjoy fish then Fano and the Adriatic river certainly won't disappoint you; but if you have yet to discover its delights then prepare yourself for a great gastronomic experience.
It is difficult to find coffee quite like this Fano speciality anywhere else. It isn't just a question of knowing how to use a coffee machine or even the way in which the beans are blended or roasted.
The secret of the unmistakable aroma of moretta lies in the ingredients which are added to it in their correct proportion and blend.
Yet if you find, even by following the recipe, that your own coffee doesn't quite match up to the true Fano moretta, then you must allow the fisherman of the town, who are the true masters of the tradition, to retain a few secrets for themselves about the making of this unique and unmistakable drink.
Wines from the hills around Fano and the Province of Pesaro and Urbino are much prized and sought after by gourmets throughout the world. The gentle hilly countryside overlooking the Metauro valley provides fertile terrain for fine quality grapes and the local people have prized their aphrodisiac qualities for centuries.
Grapes were grown in this area as long ago as the 8th-10th Century BC by Etruscan tribes who understood the potential of the landscape, the mildness of its climate and the variety of micro-climates most favourable to this rich variety of grape.
A passion for wine-growing developed over time and has led to the production of a number of excellent wines which are now classified with the label "Denominazione di Origine Controllata".
Around the province of Pesaro and Urbino you can find the following particular DOC classified wines: "Bianchello del Metauro", "Colli Pesaresi Rosso" (including the DOC "Focara" wine), "Colli Pesaresi Bianco" (including the DOC "Roncaglia" wine) and "Novello dei Colli Pesaresi".
Wine production not just in the province but throughout the whole region has brought an increasing recognition of the quality and potential of Marche wine. Today, the region is able to offer competitive wines at international level whose genuine quality satisfies even the most demanding and refined palates.
Travel a few kilometres along the via Flaminia from Fano and you reach Acqualagna, capital of the truffle (along with Sant'Angelo in Vado and Sant'Agata Feltria).
The truffle, with its magic (and some say even aphrodisiac) aroma, is one of the world's great culinary ingredients and the finest gourmets are prepared to go to any lengths to enjoy its exquisite taste.
All nine varieties of edible truffle can be found in our province so that throughout the year it is possible to find this rare underground fungus for the table.
All those who enjoy their food will be sure to make a note on their calendar that the tartufo bianco pregiato (white truffle), which prefers cooler, humid terrain, is gathered between October and the end of December, the tartufo nero pregiato (black truffle) between December and mid-March, the tartufo nero d'estate or scorzone (summer truffle) from May to August, the tartufo nero uncinato or scorzone invernale (winter truffle) from October to December and the bianchetto or marzuolo (found on limestone or clay soil but also on sandy saline soil) from January to April.
Each type of truffle has its own particular culinary use - on toasted bread crostini or thinly sliced over soups and pasta, lightly cooked in veal, beef or pork dishes, grated or lightly cooked in a creamy sauce. But its unmistakable taste serves a single purpose. Our recipe suggestions give you an opportunity to try it yourself.
Over the years, time and history have shown the hills just outside Fano to be particularly suited the growing of olives. The high number of olive presses still operating in the area hark back to days gone by. The first official records of olive oil production in this area date from the period of the Papal States when these inland hills were among the best known olive areas, prized even by the religious authorities. At that time the ownership of olive groves was an indication of the relative power and standing of each family. Olive oil was a measure of prosperity and its production was a key factor in the economy of each village. The frantoio was not just a place for pressing olives to extract the oil but also a meeting place and centre of village social life, a place for discussing life and politics and concluding business deals.
At Cartoceto olive growing has always been a characteristic feature of the landscape. Here, olive presses are still in operation and their excellent quality extra virgin olive oil is renowned at international level.
The beneficial qualities of a good olive oil are well known. Among other things, it protects the body by neutralising its uncharged molecules, it balances the body from the nutritional point of view, withstands frying temperature better than other oils, aids digestion and assists the body to absorb calcium. The olive oil from Cartoceto has been shown to have all of the qualities usually found in extra virgin olive oil and its unmistakable flavour makes even a simple slice of toasted bread irresistible.
On a visit to Fano you can enjoy not only the finest quality fish but also visit nearby inland towns to taste some of the finest country gastronomy. Among the many specialities are a number of cheeses, of which the finest is without doubt the famous golden Formaggio di Fossa, matured in underground caves of tufa stone, whose strong intoxicating aroma fills the air.
It is to be found in the north of the province at Talamello, in the Val Marecchia, but also a few kilometres away from Fano in the village of Cartoceto.
The famous tufa stone "caves" are covered with a bed of straw, closed with wooden lids and sealed with gesso. The cheese is left to season there in the darkness for months, wrapped in sacks of hemp. By the time it once again sees the light of day and is taken out of the caves in a ritual which is well worth experiencing, it has been transformed into a magnificent culinary delicacy used in a variety of dishes from soups to dessert.
Casciotta di Urbino is also worthy of mention. It has been made since the 16th century (even Michelangelo had a weakness for it) and made with sheep and cow milk produced by Sardinian and Apennine cattle. In 1996 it was classified with the European Union D.O.P. label.
Pecorino cheese is a very versatile ingredient and can be conserved in a hundred different ways.
The tourist travelling through the countryside will find the fine Pecorino con le Vinacce (sheep cheese matured in grape skins removed from wine during fermentation). There is a curious story about how it came to be made quite by chance during the mid 19th Century when an infamous band of local brigands, followers of a certain Terenzio Grossi, hid a hoard of stolen pecorino cheeses among grape skins.
Pecorino di botte is a typical product of the Fano area. It is matured in oak barrels and vats which were once used for making wine and still retain its aroma. Pecorino di botte is wrapped in particular types of foliage and has an unmistakable and delightfully delicate flavour.