Finding the Mona Lisa’s background on a road trip into the heart of Italian culture

Jul 12, 2018 178


“Even if I set out to make a film about a fillet of sole, it would be about me,” Federico Fellini once said. The Academy Award-winning director of La Dolce Vita(1960) and Amarcord(1973) devoted a great deal of his art to reviving memories from his childhood, which was spent in Rimini, an old Roman town in the southeastern part of Emilia-Romagna (the region has just been designated Best Destination in Europe 2018 by Lonely Planet), on Italy’s Adriatic coast.

La Marecchiese, a 50km stretch of bitumen more formally known as the SP258, heads inland from Rimini and doubles as a concentrated thread of Italy’s very essence: its art and culture; its food and wine; its landscape and poetry. We’re embarking on a two-day trip along La Marecchiese – with a detour or two – through ancient villages in which steep alleyways lead to castles perched on rocky hills that look down into the verdant Valmarecchia and Montefeltro valleys: a landscape so affecting, a recent study has found, Leonardo da Vinci used it as the backdrop to his most famous masterpiece.

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