started in January. We considered other countries for about 10 seconds, then decided
on Italy again ;-) We'd both enjoyed Umbria so much and took a look at the map to
see what else there was in the area that we'd missed. Lo and behold, just to the
east was a region called Marche. I recalled that many years ago on a family beach
holiday in a place called Cattolica, I got more bored than usual, hired a bike for a day
and rode to San Marino and back (incidentally, no pump, no puncture kit, no tools, nothing
- so God knows what I'd have done if I'd broken down!). I really enjoyed that
ride. I recalled it was 'lumpy', but it went through some lovely countryside.
I hadn't realised it at the time, but on my way to San Marino I was riding in the Marche
region of Italy. So, once we'd chosen the Marche region for the next trip, it was
straight down to the local Tesco to see what wines they had on offer from that region.
Now a bizarre coincidence happened to us on this trip
(more of that in the tour report), but coincidence numbers one and two happened at the
planning stage, and the second of these was quite spooky.
First of all, I mailed my friend Sergio in Pisa to
say we were thinking of touring the Marche region and did he know anything about it?
I got a quick reply back. His exact words were... "You got to be
After another couple of e-mails, it transpired that Sergio was born in that region, and
indeed, his mother still lived there in Falconara, so once again, we had plenty of 'inside
knowledge' of the area, and if nothing else we thank him for mentioning the place
'Castelluccio' to us. Now Castelluccio isn't actually in the Marche region, it's in
Umbria, but the border sort of loops round it to include it. I think the
Umbrian's were smart to do that. But I digress - more of Castelluccio in the tour report.
Coincidence number two was really strange. I
posted a message to a newsgroup (rec.travel.europe) explaining that we were thinking of
cycle touring in the region, and did anyone have any useful information e.g. 'must see'
places etc. I had a few replies, and then about a week after the posting received an
e-mail from someone, asking if I was "the Allan Nelson who worked at the Institute of
Terrestrial Ecology in Grange-Over-Sands?" Indeed I was! I couldn't believe
it. A chap who had worked there and left a few years ago, had moved out to the
Marche region of Italy, and was in the process of doing up a house in San Ginesio from
where he planned to run 'Flora and Fauna' walking holidays in the Sibillini
Mountains! That was coincidence enough, but we did meet with the chap, John
Metcalfe, when we visited San Ginesio, and the story of how he came to read that newsgroup
posting was even more bizarre. They had a friend around to the house and he'd not
long had his computer connected to the Internet. The friend was showing him what he
could do, and suggesting that newsgroups such as 'rec.travel.europe' would be good places
to keep an eye out for people looking for walking holidays in the mountains, accommodation
etc. As luck would have it, he came across my message when he searched for
'Marche'. John admitted that when he saw the message he was gobsmacked! He
said 'I know that chap. I used to work with him'. His friend wouldn't believe
Through an e-mail I posted on the Eurobike mailing
list, I received many useful replies. One of these was from Francesco Bille.
Francesco lives in Pesaro and is a keen cyclist. He was extremely helpful in
commenting on our route, suggesting places we should not miss, and offered to meet up with
us - again - more of that in the tour report.
We also discovered an excellent web site on the
Marche region, www.le-marche.com. This had
lots of highly relevant information (for us), and you can request a free map and booklets
on the area. (They take a while to arrive, but are done in the usual 'Italian' style i.e.
stylish!) If you're ever thinking of visiting the area, this site is a must.
One other site we visited was www.paradispossible.com, where again, you can
request a very useful free brochure (it's worth getting for the pictures alone).
So, as you can see, we had plenty of information to
go at, and plenty of help from some very kind people who helped us enormously.