Fratte Rosa: an Italian enchanting hilltop village

Last week we decided to go shopping for the Fall season in the Marche’s lagest clothing outlet in Sant’Ippolito. However, as soon as we got there we realized that we had picked the worst day of the year! Summer clothes on sale still around and lots of boxes filled with Fall/Winter clothes to be taken out and displayed. Empty shelves, cardboard boxes all around, dismantelment of the ‘old’ to make way for the ‘new’…  Not much to do apart from having an espresso at the bar and lingering on the typical local food sold there.

I caught a glimpse of tacconi, a special pasta made from a blend of wheat flour and a flour made from a variety of fava bean typical of the Fratte Rosa area. We had heard about the Fava di Fratte Rosa while dining at a restaurant a few days before, so I was very curious to know more about the village which is mostly famous for its ancient pottery tradition.

We headed to Fratte Rosa and, on our way to the village, we were amazed by the beauty of the landscape. Unfortunately I did not have my Canon with me, but still I took a few good pictures that I’m sharing with you. From up there the view is breathtaking: the three peaks of San Marino (the oldest republic in the world!), mount Catria and Nerone, the Adriatic sea. And then the ochre fields turned over after the crop (sunflowers, corn, wheat, sorghum), defined by scrubs of pine-trees, olive-trees, cypresses, oaks.

As soon as we arrived there, we found a parking place right in front of one of the oldest pottery workshops of the village, Terrecotte Gaudenzi, handmade terracotta since 1730.

I will devote another post to this magic workshop; for the time being I’m just posting a picture of the pig-shaped terracotta pot below (my mother has one and uses it to bake a gorgeous coniglio in porchetta– roast rabbit with wild fennel and lard).

We walked into the village through the entrance gate and we immediately felt in one of the most peaceful places on earth.

Apparently nobody was there but us. We could hear no voice, no sound at all.

I am so fond of ‘narrow streets of cobblestone’ (sanpietrini in Italian) even if I murdered more than a couple of heels walking on it!

I was luckily wearing heelless shoes on that day!

After taking some good pictures of the surroundings, we googled to learn more about the gorgeous village. We found out that Fratte Rosa lies in the valleys of the Metauro and Cesano at 419 m asl on a very clayed soil called lubachi. I’m quoting the Slowfood Foundation website here:

Over time, the interaction between the plants farmed and the clayey soil led to the selection of a very particular fava bean ecotype, which sprang from spontaneous crossings between field beans and fava beans. The local variety that emerged over time differed from the others due to its special sweetness and softness, even when fully ripe. It has a short pod, and the number of beans per pod is less than 5.

Seeds are sown between October and November. Fresh beans are harvested by hand, when the pod and seeds have reached a good consistency and a good weight. Usually around the end of April, early May. Dry beans are harvested in the first ten days of July.

We walked past this bakehouse where the sign said fava bean bread but when we tried to enter to buy one loaf we found out that it was closed. Too bad.

We asked two men – one sitting at a street table in front of a food shop/bar, the other one (the shop owner) standing nearby – if they knew when the bakery would open again. They said it is only open in the morning. We were a bit disappointed but then the man wearing a hat in the picture walked to us and said that he was a ‘vagabond’. I giggled and asked him if he meant he was a ‘globe-trotter’. No, he replied: ‘I’m the vagabond of the Nomadi song… I wrote that song’. Well, for us Italians Io vagabondo by the Nomadi group (1972) is one of the most sung songs on the bus during school trips, or at any party where one takes the guitar along and friends end up singing together.

I was amazed and could not believe it!!! I wonder if it’s true… I mean, I always believe what people tell me but some things he told me do not really tally with what I’m reading about the song as I’m doing some online research right now. Anyway, it was a nice meeting and it was nice talking to those kind men sitting in the street. I bet we were the first people walking by in hours… Besides they reminded me again of the song by Nomadi. I’m not an estimator of this group but still they make me go back to my childhood (each Italian family had a Nomadi LP around the house in the ’70s/’80s!)

This well, close to the shop and under the portico of the Palazzo Comunale (town hall), dates back to the Malatesta period (14th century).

The village of Fratte Rosa derives its origin from medieval times. Between 11th and 13th century it belonged to Ravignana, a small state ruled by the Monastery of Classe in Ravenna; it was later ruled by the Malatesta family, then by the Montefeltro and by Della Rovere families.

Just outside the village walls there is the 18th century church of Santa Maria in Castagneto.

We read that the Pottery Museum is hosted by the former convent of Santa Vittoria founded by Saint Francis in 1216 and is apparently worth a visit. We did not have much time so we skipped that (a good reason to go back!).We walked by a few Stations of the Cross made with terracotta hung on the house walls.

The restaurant La Graticola (from 1968) seems to be pretty good – at least this is what a local inhabitant told us. Unless the person we asked was the owner or a relation of the restaurant owner, I guess we can trust her. People around here are excellent cooks and are expert in genuine food!

I was captured by the curtain hung in front of the door of a beautiful, historic house. I thought that the cloth was just right: simple, a somewhat ‘rural’ pattern, chic in its own way. But the yellow clothspins just looked so sweet!

And look at the scenic view from the house to the hinterland!

Here is the old mail box…

… and here is a work by artist L. Sguanci (1980)…

…the ‘Segno del Fuoco’ (the ‘Sign of the Fire’).

Farewell Fratte Rosa. We’ll soon return to your narrow streets and quiet houses humming Io vagabondo by the Nomadi…
Poi una notte di settembre mi svegliai
Il vento sulla pelle, 
Sul mio corpo il chiarore delle stelle
Chissà dov’era casa mia 
E quel bambino che giocava in un cortile.
Then, one September’s night I woke up,
the wind on my skin,
on my body the lights of the stars.
Who knows where my home was
and that little kid who used to play in the courtyard.


  1. Amazing Simona– so much history and beauty in one quiet place. I was disappointed too, that the brad shop was closed! But it looks like such a lovely memorable day… thank you for posting the pictures… xoxox

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