Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The town of Treia, Macerata

Treia, Macerata
photo credit: gillpoll
Treia (see map) is a quintessential hill town in the heart of Le Marche filled with Romanesque, Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture. We were fortunate to be invited to dinner by Dan and Maria, a lovely American couple who run a gorgeous B&B there ‘Villa Trina’. It is easy to see why they chose to live there. It is surrounded by the most beautiful countryside and has stunning panoramic views from the Apennine Mountains to the west and the Adriatic to the east. There is much to see and do in the local area. The town itself has:
  • A medieval cathedral (one of the largest in the region) - Cattedrale di SS Annunziata
  • Torre dell’Onglavina - the remains of a castle on a rocky spur
  • Thirteenth century Palazzo Pretorio
  • A large piazza with a horseshoe-shaped balustrade offering breathtaking views
  • A Civic Museum
  • The Church and convent of S. Filippo
  • The Georgic Academy
  • The 17th-century Town Hall with a collection of Renaissance and classical paintings
  • The Museo Civico Archeologico also includes Egyptian religious statues of the Roman period.
  • Santuario del SS. Crocifisso, a  large early 20th-century church complex

Santuario del SS Crocifisso
(courtesy of Pro Loco Marche)
  Turreted boundary walls and gates maintain the medieval aspect of the elegant, charming town of Treia perched high on a hill, untouched by mass tourism. For its beautifully preserved historical center it is included among the Borghi più belli d'Italia.

Unusual Ball Game in Treia

In July we saw posters around the town for ‘Disfida del Bracciale’. Our friend Stefano explained that Treia is famous for hosting a traditional ball game dating from Renaissance times called The Challenge of the Armlet (also known as Pallone col bracciale).

Pallone col Bracciale (Wikipedia)
He said that it was similar to tennis but instead of racquets, the players use a device called a ‘bracciale’- a sort of wooden cylindrical spiked glove worn over the hand and forearm. A hard leather ball is pounded back and forth between two teams of three, with a high wall (between 14 and 20m) on one side, permitting deflection back into the field of play. The court is very long - around 90m. Scores are the same as in tennis – 15, 30, 40, game – and the first team to win six games is the victor. The Challenge is preceded by costume processions and ceremonies, evoking the times of Carlo Didimi, the greatest player of pallone. Each year the challenge is held on the first Sunday of August, following ten days of festivities that start on the Friday before the second last Sunday in July. This unique festival ends with a magnificent fireworks display.

Typical Local Dishes of Treia

The “calcione” is one of the most famous typical products of Treia. Each year in mid-May the Sagra Del Calcione e Del Raviolo is held in Piazza della Repubblica. Calcione is made from flour and eggs, lightly sweetened, turned and folded into a half moon shape and filled with eggs, pecorino, sugar and oil. Il Raviolo is filled with ricotta cheese, eggs and nutmeg and served with ragù di carne and parmigiano. There are two versions, one is fried and the other is baked in the oven. They are served with the excellent local wine Vernaccia di Serrapetrona. In May Treia also hosts the Sagra dell’Oca (Festival of the Goose). Typical of the area are also:

• Ciauscolo - a delectable, spreadable salami.
• Porchetta with grilled polenta.
• Coniglio alla cacciatora (rabbit stew hunter-style).
• Scroccafusi (Castagnole marchigiane)  – a pastry of flour, eggs, sugar, aniseed and lemon zest.
• Cicerchiata - balls of fried sweet dough joined into ring shapes by warm honey.

Piazza della Repubblica, Treia
photo credit: e. ciaralli
 Treia is also an ideal place from which to explore other towns in Italy, with Perugia, Bologna, Florence, Assisi, Pescara, Siena and Rome all day-trip possibilities. Closer still are the university town of Macerata, just a 15 minute drive away and the Thermal Baths in Tolentino, just 18km (11 miles) to the south. I would recommend hiring a car for getting around this area as it is not served by railway and buses are infrequent, but this ensures its tranquillity.


  1. Carissima Nora,
    Thank you very much for revelation of one more beautiful hill-town in Le Marche.
    It looks splendid indeed. And I’d like to taste the “calcione”. I’ll share your charming post with Facebook and Twitter.
    Tante belle cose a tutti.

  2. Grazie mille Tatiana! I look forward to discovering more hill towns in Le Marche and Abruzzo with you in August.