Pinch Me...I am in Pesaro

Okay, I was in Pesaro…six weeks ago…on a press tour. Obviously, I am not the fastest blogger in the world but honestly, so much happened in that action-packed week I was in Italy, and then I came home only to start the production of the August/September issue the first day back…No rest for the wicked…so finally with the issue at the printer as we speak, I am collecting my thoughts as I sit in my backyard on this beautiful July evening, sipping Pinot Grigio, remembering the wonderful people I met, and the special experiences I had thanks to Scavolini and Tricon House, the hosts who invited me on their first-ever press tour—what an honour! Their collaboration brought to fruition an opportunity for me to go to Le Marche region, and sojourn in Pesaro, a charming seaside town right on the Adriatic coast. In the 72-hour press tour, I saw beautiful places, met fascinating, creative people, shared many out-of-this-world, only-in-Italy delicious meals with a delightful group of people!
Scavolini Headquarters

Scavolini Headquarters

Day 1: Scavolini Tour
Monday morning: Jetlagged but happy, I had the opportunity to meet the Scavolini family & the founder Walter Scavolini, who started the company 60 years ago—Scavolini is the brand leader in kitchen, bathroom and living design, a household name in Italy, and a staple in the design landscape. Besides, this pinch-me moment that I actually met them in person at Scavolini headquarters in Montelabbate, we had a guided tour of both their showroom and state-of-the-art, sophisticated factory where Italy’s finest modular kitchens are produced to perfection. 

Lunch time: The Feast 

Much like the maxim: Build it and they will come...the creators of these impeccably designed kitchens pulled out all the stops and invited us to lunch at their Villa Montani of Ginestreto, originally built in the 17th century, purchased and restored by the Scavolini family in 1985. Their personal chef prepared a 10-course exquisite meal for us, indulging taste buds and our design aesthetic as we soaked in the beauty of the villa, the art, the architecture, the fragrant gardens, needless to say, the sensorial experience was full-scale and the pinch-me moments persisted.

Villa Montani Fondazione Scavolini

Villa Montani Fondazione Scavolini

Did Someone Say Seafood?
Le Marche’s location right on the Adriatic means their cuisine is a cornucopia of some of the best seafood I have ever tasted in my life…a few fish I had never even heard of before…and don’t ask me now, I don’t remember the various names but they were all spectacular. One of my favourite dishes was this seafood risotto that the chef brought out on a huge platter, he then proceeded to open a bottle of Franciacorta and poured it all over his culinary work of art mixing it in before serving to us…Needless to say, that step turned it into a masterpiece.

Risotto seafood.jpg

Una meraviglia 

Monday evening: Dinner

Yes, more seafood in the seaside town of Fano, ristorante Levante…Do I look like a fish yet? Besides the meal and the view of the Adriatic…I love the beachy chic design of this restaurant. 

Day 2: Tuesday morning, Tour at Tod’s
As if exceptional design, food and scenery weren’t enough, we also experienced the wonderful world of Tod’s with a guided tour of the progressive company, which includes a gym, daycare and library for staff. Then onto the factory where we witnessed first-hand the entire artisanal process of shoe-making! Starting with these custom shoe moulds—an entire wall housed the customized moulds for A-list celebrities. This is the closest I will ever get to George Clooney.  

It was an absolute treat to see these beauties come to life. The creativity, extreme attention to detail and respect for tried-and-true ways, are all indicative of the continued success of the 150-year-old luxury brand, known for their classic & timeless shoes and handbags, and how it maintains its prime place in the international world of fashion today. For me, it simply was designer shoe heaven, followed by some shopping and a seaside lunch, including the catch of the day.

Tuesday afternoon: Porto S. Giorgio
Words don’t do this post-Tod’s lunch justice so I will let the photos illustrate my happy-place bliss.

Last, but not least, my favourite part of the over-the-top three days. 

Tuesday evening: stroll and dinner in the Medieval town of Gradara. 
Situated at 142 metres above sea level, with the Republic of San Marino, Rimini and Carpegna in the background, Gradara is an extraordinary and enchanting town with a majestic castle that dominates your every view. Nestled in a picturesque, hilly landscape, not far from the Romagna riviera, the 11th century castle is perched on a hill and enclosed by two rows of city walls. A vision to behold, I was captivated by the place. It is no wonder that Borghi Magazine named Gradara as the number one Medieval town in 2018. It is one of the best-preserved examples of Medieval architecture in Italy. 

Legend has it that the castle was the scene of the famous and tragic love story of Paolo and Francesca, caught in each other’s arms and killed by Gianciotto, Francesca’s husband. This love story was immortalized by Dante in the Divine Comedy. As you walk around the cobble stone streets, it's as if you can sense its tumultuous past. The charming laneway that led to the restaurant we were dining at that evening was aptly called: Lovers Lane (Passeggiata degli innamorati)…Of course, it was my favourite street, I had to photograph wasn't until I returned and was looking at the photo again that I noticed below the street sign, in small print the words: Monte delle bugie, in other words, Mountain of lies.... 
What can I say? I am a fan of both medieval towns and dark humour...seriously, on all fronts, this town has a special place in my heart.

I won’t bore you with the many spectacular items on the menu that evening at dinner, I will tell you it was the only meal that didn’t include any seafood, but every other food group pretty much showed up along with the stellar wines from the region. Not sure if it was the intense schedule, non-stop beauty, food and design overload shared with a special group of people, but the farewell dinner evening of the press tour ended as magically as the enchanting town we visited, punctuated with a glorious full moon hovering above the castle as we ate, drank and were all wishing our time nelle Marche wouldn’t end quite yet.  

We said our goodbyes that evening as most of the group was returning to Canada early the next morning. It is no surprise that this italo-phile couldn’t break away after only 72 hours in my favourite boot, so I stayed on a few more days and had a little holiday, visiting with some special friends in both Le Marche and Bologna…but that’s a whole other blog that most likely I will call: Carb Coma. 
A big thank you to Scavolini and Tricon House who invited me on this nothing-but-the-best, memorable press trip. Together they are working on some very innovative and interesting building projects coming soon to the GTA, which I will talk about in the months to come. In the meanwhile, this glimpse into two companies who have made and continue to make profound contributions to the world of design, enhancing the way we live, and making a more liveable Toronto, was a true privilege. The summer of 2018 started off with a bang I would say...and since I have been back, I can't stop smiling...and I have upped my workouts...obviously.