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.