For some reason (no-one I spoke to knew why as the Martin is a patron saint of soldiers and horses), San Martino is a festival in this part of Italy that is celebrated predominantly with food. As the saint's day was on a Sunday this year it meant that the whole weekend would see the town of Grottammare transformed into a huge market place. You could buy just about anything here, from a goldfish to a fetching pair of super-pippos (long johns), but predominantly it was food.
When we woke on the Saturday morning, when thankfully the sun was making an appearance, the smell of foods being prepared wafted into the apartment. You could buy chicken, pork, sausages, olives and onions that had been marinated in wonderful herbs and spices and surprisingly bottles of Heinz Tomato Ketchup!
But it was to Fermo that we were making our way knowing that the stalls would still be waiting for us upon our return. Lo and behold in the centre of Fermo there was also a food market and it wasn't just local foods.
award winning salami and sun-dried tomatoes were just some of the items on offer from around Italy. One stall was purely oranges from Sicily.
Whilst the stalls were there all day, and there was a small flurry of activity at lunchtime, it was after the sun had set that the market came alive. Then women haggled over prices and weights whilst taking advantage of the tasters of olives that lined some of the stalls.
The sam could be said of Grottammare where the streets were filled with people in the early evening and I must have eaten enough olives and pickled onions to sink a battleship as I picked my way past stall after stall of produce. The prices were not cheap though. A kilo of marinted olives was getting to set me back on average 15 euros...I stuck to the freebies.
The Sunday, the most popular day, was rain drenched. The stall holders battled against the elements until the early afternoon when many started to pack up. I was a little concerned for the stall-holder below whose dried beans and lentils were in danger of becoming re-hydrated and whose polenta flour was almost dough.
Still I had had the chance to taste, see and smell the flavours of Italy in those two days of sun and rain. From the comfort of the apartment, prosecco in hand, on the Sunday evening I watched as the San Martino festival drew to a close for another a year.