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The hill town of Recanati is a little way inland from the Adriatic sea, to the west of Italy in the Marches region.
Recanati: start with Art
We recommend starting your visit at the Recanati Museum and Municipal Gallery, which houses a rich collection of paintings by Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556), among which are the famous 'Annunciation'. The work dates from 1526 to 1528 and it was originally painted for the Oratory of “Santa Maria sopra Mercanti” of Recanati, where it remained until 1952, when it was transferred to the Municipal Gallery.
Another work of great value by Lorenzo Lotto is the altarpiece of “Madonna and Child with Saints” while no less important is the "St. Giovanni Pellegrino," probably of 1512, which demonstrates the rules of perspective and the use of very modern and vibrant colour and light.
Other sections in the Museum include the archaeological finds from the city, some items related to the figure of Giacomo Leopardi, and various other sections, devoted to Beniamino Gigli (1890-1957), musical instruments, and finally to contemporary artists of Recanati.
Back on the streets, and more artworks...
Continuing your visit you arrive at Leopardi Square, dominated by the 12th century “Torre del Borgo” and where there is also a monument to Giacomo Leopardi. On the same square is the church of San Domenico, in Romanesque style with a 15th century portal by Giuliano da Majano. Inside you can see the painting "St. Vincent Ferreri in Glory" by Lorenzo Lotto, probably from 1513.
In Via Falleroni stands Recanati Cathedral, built in the late 14th century on the site of an older church, then rebuilt in the 18th century. The interior has a basilica plan with three naves.
Next there is the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, located in the Episcopate and which contains works from the 15th to 17th centuries, including a "Holy Family", attributed to Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), "Saint Lucia" by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called the “Guercino” and a triptych by Ludovico Urbani [1460-1493] (1476).
In the Castelnuovo region of Recanati is the Romanesque Church of Santa Maria, from 1139 and probably the oldest church in the town, which once belonged to the Monastery of Fonte Avellana. In the lunette of the portal, in a vaguely Byzantine style, there is a bas-relief by “Mastro Nicola Anconetano” (1472-1511) depicting the “Madonna Enthroned with St. Michael and St. Gabriel.” Another fresco depicting the “Madonna and Child”, is inside the church attributed to Pietro di Domenico da Montepulciano.
Recanati is not only a city with lots of churches but also with many prestigious palaces. One of the best of these is the Venieri Palace, built by Cardinal Giacopo Venieri (1422-1479) and designed by Giuliano da Majano, who also directed the construction. Situated on both sides of the city walls it was designed as a residence and castle city.
The court Renaissance arcades on three sides have Istria stone columns with capitals and the arms of the Cardinals.
No visit to Recanati would be complete without a trip seeing the famous Leopardi Palace in Sabato del Villaggio Square. The current palace was renovated in the mid-18th century by Canonical architect Carlo Orazio Leopardi and holds the books that Monaldo accumulated from his father, a famous scholar and knowledgeable collector of rare books.
The library is primarily historical and has over twenty-five thousand volumes. Count Monaldo Leopardi allowed free access to these rooms to all family members, friends and fellow citizens. The library occupies five rooms, two of them dedicated to Giacomo: one with works about the poet published after his death; the other containing manuscripts by the famous poet.
The first of these rooms has a portrait of Giacomo Leopardi, a pencil drawing by an artist from Lugo called Luigi Lolli, with a curious history. Giacomo Leopardi was unwilling to have a portrait painted, perhaps because of the back deformity he suffered. However, during the publication of his collected works, he was persuaded by the lawyer Brighenti to publish the book with a portrait that was done in pencil by Luigi Lolli.
From this design an engraving was then carried out in Bologna, but neither the design nor the engraving pleased Leopardi, who wrote to his sister Paolina on May 18, 1830: "Dear Pilla, the picture is very ugly, however, you can show it around so that the people of Recanati see that 'the hunchback of the Leopardi' counted for something in the world while the name of Recanati is not known".
Rest and relaxation in Recanati, and a long lunch
Just as no visitor should leave Recanati without seeing the Palace of Leopardi, finding the time to enjoy the typical varied cuisine of the city is also highly recommended.
Among the starters we suggest the “crostini with chicken livers” and cold cuts such as the famous “ciauscolo”. Among main courses, it is worth tasting the “Cappelletti” and "stracciatella" in broth, the pasta with hare sauce or duck sauce, risotto with quail, the "vincisgrassi" and the traditional pasta and beans"and pasta and chickpeas.
Other highlights (time permitting for several meals!) include the so-called “Gobbi in umido”, stuffed zucchini, roasted tomatoes, and beans in pork. Be sure to match the fine food with the most suitable wines such as Rosso Piceno, Rosso Conero and Bianco dei Colli di Macerata.
See also history of Recanati
You can find more local travel ideas in the Marche guide.