Ecco Le Marche

I love picnics! I grew up having a very professional picnic basket, belonging to my grandparents, with all the bare necessities (although, I am not sure they were so bare) for a day in the nature. My family and I used to go picnic either on the mountains or by a lake. Very rarely we went to the seaside, but this was just because my family didn’t really like the sea. What are the ingredients of a nice picnic? Just some bread or focaccia, salami, cheese, some vegetables or fruit and a bottle of wine.

In our region, I think that picnic is really a thing, and that’s why some restaurants offer picnic baskets that you can then enjoy on the restaurant grounds or nearby.

So last Saturday Elke and Otto tried the “Camporella Bag” from the restaurant “Lo Smeraldo” on Lago di Cingoli (or Lago di Castreccioni) and really enjoyed it. But of course, before enjoying a proper picnic, you have to deserve it, so that’s why they first went on a hike at Castreccioni Lake.

They left the car in the parking lot of “Lo Smeraldo” above the “Baia di Popeye”, the Popeye Bay. There are also plenty of parking spaces right on the bay. Fun fact: Lo Smeraldo is the restaurant where I celebrated my First Communion, and we are really fond of it.

We chose a hike from the archive of the “Cupra in Camminata” group (the hiking group from Cupramontana, that you know already from our previous posts) and hiked it in a slightly modified form: First they walked around the Cape of Peninsula around the ruins of Castello Castreccioni. A very nice route with occasional views of the lake.

Then they followed the little-used Strada Provinciale 2 for a few kilometers towards Frontale in the southwest. Alternating left and right yellow corn fields and green fields with cattle plants or green manure. Quail seemed to love the green fields, but unfortunately they didn’t get to see the shy animals. They only heard their funny, chuckling calls over and over again.

Before the Agriturismo Santa Maria del Gallo they turned left, after about 500 meters turn left towards Moscosi.

In Moscosi they left the route described, which should lead directly back to the Baia di Popeye, and instead turned right to get closer to the lake and go back along the lake on a dirt road. The path was mowed and wide and led them through beautiful flower fields and meadows and occasional beautiful views of the lake.

Finally, at the “I Ponti” restaurant, which is known for its generous portions of meat and game (another beloved restaurant of our family, indeed I think my brother celebrated his First Communion there 😉 ), they came back onto the street, crossed the Moscosi bridge and reached the Baia di Popeye.

Now the yummy part began: The restaurant “Lo Smeraldo” was well crowded, that’s why Elke and Otto suggest to book the picnic basket in advance, as they did, so you won’t have to wait. They then examined the basket on a shady bench with a wonderful lake view:

Various salami slices, ham, coppa and cheese. In addition steamed green vegetables (called “erbe di campo ripassate”) and a huge portion of fragrant, still warm crescia (flatbread made from polenta dough). A bottle of chilled Verdicchio white wine, water and a piece of apricot cake for everyone. Plates, cutlery and cups were included, but to avoid the plastic, they had brought our own picnic cutlery and plates.

The Lago di Castreccioni, also called Lago di Cingoli:

The reservoir, which belongs to the Comune of Cingoli, was built in the 1980s to regulate the water level of the Musone River, to irrigate the fields in the area and to provide drinking water. A rich flora and fauna has developed around the lake, including some types of fish that have become at home in the lake.

In summer, the lake is a preferred destination for those who prefer calm bathing in fresh water to the midsummer hustle and bustle by the sea. Some shops and restaurants offer food and drinks and rent pedal boats without disturbing the calm atmosphere of the lake.

Useful information and links:

  • Here you can download the track of the “Cupra in camminata” group, which we followed – except for the last piece.
  • There are further hikes by the “cupra in camminata” hiking group (with tracks and photos).
  • Here is the link to the google-maps map of the lake.
  • Here is the link to the Ristorante “Lo smeraldo” – you should pre-order the picnic basket at least one day in advance.