If you need to relax and get away from the city stress, I can suggest you the ideal destination for a weekend or even for longer holidays! It is called Smerillo, a small medieval village with a few hundred inhabitants in Le Marche region, in the province of Fermo. It rises on a rocky spur at 806 meters above sea level, halfway between the Sibillini Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by a charming pristine wooded area. Stunning views, hospitality and silence are the characteristics that distinguish this lovely place.
The Old Town and the Medieval Fortress
In ancient times Smerillo was a castle and today you can still admire the ruins of the walls, the well-preserved and restored northern gate, and the keep. The fortress overlooks the village and was built in the Middle Ages as a dwelling for the noble families of the city.
The historic center has simple but well-kept stone buildings and is characterized by silent streets offering unexpected views. Smerillo is very appreciated by poets, that’s why it is known as ‘The Small Town of the Poets‘.
There are so many churches to visit, let’s start from the Church of the Saints Peter and Paul, the two patrons of the town. It is the main church of Smerillo and overlooks the square of the same name. It has a single central nave and preserves a wooden Crucifix to which local people are devoted. In the street Dante Alighieri stands the Church of St. Catherine of Romanesque style. Inside there are fifteenth and sixteenth-century votive frescoes, two canvases depicting St. Anthony and St. Catherine and behind the altar, in an open niche on the wall there is the sculptural woodwork with the Madonna of Loreto. At about 3 km from Smerillo, in the hamlet of Ceresola there’s the church St. Nicholas, whereas in San Martino al Faggio you can visit the Church of San Vincenzo Ferreri, where interesting canvases are preserved.
In the former elementary school of Smerillo which is located in the heart of the historic centre, there is the MACS – Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Natural Science and the Art Gallery & Museum of Children’s Art.
The Museum of Natural Science is on the first floor and presents two different collections: one dedicated to the local fossils of the lower Middle Pliocene and other geological eras from various regions of Italy; one dedicated to minerals from around the world.
The MACS was opened in 2012 and hosts over 100 works, mostly by local artists of Le Marche region.
The Art Gallery & Museum of Children’s Art was opened in 1999 as a place dedicated to the youngest. It has a collection of drawings and other forms of expression such as thoughts, poems, photographs, etc. Peace is the central theme and there’s also an Experimental Educational Laboratory.
Excursions and Orienteering in the wood of Smerillo
As I said, Smerillo is perfect for nature lovers and walkers.
There are different accessible itineraries, from the simplest tracks that do not require much effort to the more difficult ones. Some of them lead to country roads and sunny meadows, others to the thick wood of Smerillo, a protected flora area of Le Marche along the western slopes of Falcone Mount which reaches an altitude of almost 900 meters. There you can find springs, even of warm and sulfurous water, which gather in lovely ponds. It is definitely the perfect place for orienteering, a sport that is also a game, where compass, map, and good spirit of observation are needed! In Smerillo there is the CEA, an Environmental Education Center that provides the material for this type of experience and also has a vast space for teaching activities.
Fessa di Smerillo
The Fessa is a Canyon of shingled origins that opened in the western side of Monte Falcone around 3.5 million years ago. Right here, many fossil remains have been found and then preserved in the Museum of Fossils and Minerals. It is possible to walk through the narrow passage only one person at a time, then you will get to a path starting from the viewpoint of Smerillo down to the ancient access road of the village and going up in the opposite side. This is an itinerary for all seasons, it has no particular difficulty and lasts about 40 minutes, with a height difference of 70 metres. Another opportunity to explore the extraordinary wood of Smerillo!
Here are some tips about major events in Smerillo! In July there is the festival ‘Words of the Mountain’ (Le parole della montagna), a kermesse dedicated to art, philosophy, poetry, cinema and literature. In August the 15th there is the now-famous outdoor cinema show, whereas during the 2nd Sunday of September local people celebrates St. Nicholas Day. On the 3rd Sunday of October people meet at the main square for the Chestnut Festival, with stands full of typical sweets and specialties based on chestnuts, such as jam, ice cream, caciù (handmade ravioli typical of Le Marche), and chestnut skewers with honey and chocolate. There are also the classic roasted chestnuts accompanied by a glass of good local wine.
Surely it has less to do with nature, but shopping lovers would find it interesting to know that in this area there are many outlets of famous brands, especially of footwear. Maybe you can leave this tip to the end of your stay, before coming back to daily life 😉 I would definitely suggest a stop in Montegranaro, Sant’Elpidio a Mare or Porto San Giorgio. In the area of Macerata, the most famous city for shopping is Civitanova Marche.
The culinary tradition is typical of the area of Fermo, charachterised by genuine products and rich dishes! You can start with handmade pasta like vincisgrassi and then continue with fried meat coated with breadcrumbs and ascolana olives. Make sure you do not miss the ciauscolo, the cheese caciotta del fermano and a glass of cooked wine (vino cotto).