If you search for what Tuscany once was, this green slice of Italy animated by farmers and sheep herders, where modest innkeepers attuned to the wonders around them have begun to hone their skills at restoring and refueling the weary traveler with regional food their mothers have crafted from what was nearby, you have found what you are looking for in Le Marche.
Nature lovers will have a field day exploring the village of Borgo Pace and the surrounding area. This is where the Meta and Auro torrents meet to form the Metauro River. This, the Massa Trabaria, is where the Romans got the big tree trunks to form the beams for their great basilicas and palazzi. We're smack in the heart of the Metauro river valley, my favorite part of Le Marche.
La Diligenza Inn was once a 19th century carriage stop which provided a place of rest and restoration as well as a change of horses before the carriage headed up the Bocca Trabaria Pass to Sansepolcro and the Tiber Valley. The current owners have a passion for maintaining the hospitality of these times, and enhancing it for the traveler's modern expectations.
When you enter La Diligenza you're presented with not a single, imposing dining room, but a rabbit warren of cozy little rooms, including the perfect space for our group, "grandmother Melania’s little privè dining room" which featured a roaring fire in the 18th century fireplace on a drizzly late October evening.
Hospitality begins with the staff, and our waitress knew exactly the ratio of friendliness to formality to apply to our meal. There was no idiotic "Hi, I'm Amy, and I'll be your server and friend today." There was no hiding the wine bottle and doling the contents out only when the wait staff came into the room. Perfect.
And the meal was spectacular.
The kitchen's expertise came to the forefront with the tagliatelle al ragù, served as you see to the right. Yes, the Marche is tagliatelle country. Everyone has it. Ragù you know, because you've become familiar with those gut-wrenching bottles of tomatoey glop flecked with some sort of meat, machine-ground to a pulp you're supposed to ruin your perfectly good pasta with.
This is not that ragù. This is the essence of meat, the flavor of an entire slow-cooked roast condensed to a few tablespoons of deliciousness lovingly enveloping the house-made tagliatelle.
And while we're on the subject of meat, the tagliata con funghi, a sliced steak covered in fresh porcini (this is mushroom and truffle country!) was devoid of visible fat and yet fork tender, a characteristic of grass-fed beef.
And of course there were vegetables. A platter of vegetables, roasted and dusted with bread crumbs.
And the pacing of the meal? Superb.
But...it's not only about the meals. La Diligenza is still an inn, and the period rooms are spacious and come with a lot of amenities:
There are also suites and a couple of apartments available. Someday, I really, really want to stay in one and explore the area. There is no lack of things to do here.
The website, linked below, is very comprehensive and should tell you all you need to know about the inn's services and amenities.
Piazza del Pino, 9
Borgo Pace - PU
Related: Recommended Self Catering in Italy.
Disclaimer: food was provided by La Diligenza to journalists for the purposes of review.