Above, a local delight called cassone. The flat bread they make in the Marche and Emilia-Romagna, called piada, is folded over mixed greens or tomato and mozzarella or onion and sausage or mixed grilled vegetables, then grilled and cut. You can make a meal out of cassone. Often, however, they are served as a little appetizer with apperitvo. Shown above, an exceptionally good cassone from Il Sentiero, an agriturismo in the Marche region.
Finding Il Sentiero was half the fun. We had driven up above Morciano di Romagna to see the Malatesta fortress, a hulk looming over the valley, in the tiny town of Montefiore. As always, the drive was ravishing. And as always, once we arrived, and finding the fortress closed, our minds naturally turned to lunch. Where do we eat around here, we asked the Google. Il Sentiero.
Trust in Google. Or better yet, trust in the amazing agriturismo phenomenon in Italy, the thriving bed-and-breakfast-farmhouse-inn establishments which have given rise to country eating opportunities. You enjoy local cuisine, generous hospitality, and, if you’re in the Marche or valley of the Marecchia (where we tend to hang out), views of some of Italy’s best hillsides.
Il Sentiero, meaning, the path or trail, delivers all the best of agriturismo.
On our first and second trip to Il Sentiero, we had the pappardelle with boar sauce. It’s so good, I can easily see myself having these pappardelle on my tenth or eleventh trip as well.
Along with the pasta, we enjoyed a mixed grill of meats (you see sausage, castrato–which is a type of lamb chop, and a beef rib), a tagliata (oh, rosemary! and olive oil), oven-roasted potatoes (I had to hurry to get the photo), and mixed green salad.
The agriturismo designation in Italy requires a certain amount of production on site. These are not farms in name only. As an institution, with tax incentives, agriturismo is an excellent way of nurturing and maintaining local traditions. In some of the beach towns near by, you will find Burger King and McDonalds and generic crappy pizza and pasta. The horror. Visiting these farms and meeting the people who run them, you hear them talk about parents and grandparents and great grandparents who worked the land, grew the crops, and cooked the food. This is the real stuff.
You drink local wine, from grapes grown you know where.
At the end of this lunch we had a couple sweets–a crostata, a ciambella–and coffee and grappa. I would have photographed the desserts but they disappeared too fast. And I was too busy eating.