Pesaro & the EDT Ulisse Fest

Friday, 12 August 2022

EDT, the Italian publisher of Lonely Planet guides, puts on a travel weekend every year. In recent years it has been in Rimini on the Adriatic coast and this year moved a little further south to Pesaro.

▲ from the left my translator Diego, me, Paolo Nugari and the interviewer Paolo di Paolo

On the main stage in the Piazza del Popolo we discuss our 50 years in travel. In 1972 Maureen and I did the overland trip which led to the creation of Lonely Planet in the following year. That was also when Paolo started Avventure nel Mondo, his iconic Italian adventure travel company, and it was 1972 when Inter-Rail kicked off.

▲ The big event of the weekend was Goran Bregović and his Wedding & Funeral Band, now why have I never heard of them before? They’ve played the Albert Hall, they’ve played in New York, they’ve played in Australia and I guess describing them as a Balkan gypsy band might come close, but they were simply fabulous. The main square was packed – how many thousands? – and they were all absolutely dancing and rocking along. Until after midnight. Goran is seated and in white with a little guitar, a drummer, five brass wind instruments and check the girlie chorus over on the left.

◄ the girlie chorus!



◄ Golden Sphere Monument, Arnaldo Pomodoro

Pesaro had a similar seaside resort feel to Rimini and the Golden Sphere Monument on the waterfront is one of the attractions. If it felt familiar it was because he has a very similar sphere at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

Pesaro favourite son is the opera composer Gioachino Rossini and the Rossini Museum does a pretty good job of running through his life. There’s a nice opera viewing room with video recordings of notable performances of classic Rossini arias. And the story of noted stuff ups, the premier of Moses in Egypt when the Red Sea failed to part.

Or the premier of Barber of Seville when a rival theatre sent hecklers to disrupt the performance. The Rossini house is more of a second go at the Rossini story than any attempt to show where he lived in Pesaro, so not so interesting. From there I walked past the old fish market, now an art centre the Centro Arti Visive Pescheria, to the Benelli Museum,

◄ The Benelli Museum

I had absolutely no idea that this now defunct Italian motorcycle manufacturer was based in Pesaro and the museum fronts what would have been the extensive factory once upon a time. It’s rather sad seeing the photographs of the production line turning out literally thousands of motorcycles, plus examples of pioneering designs between the wars, low-cost transport in the tough years after World War II and finally hot designs like the six cylinder Benelli Sei. They have a quite amazing number of motorcycles on display, predominantly Benelli of course, but assorted other related Italian motorcycles and a scattering of other bikes as well.

I’m particularly taken by their ‘tower’ or ‘pyramid’ of gears for their long running gear-driven overhead camshaft engines between the wars and the rather wonderful supercharged, double-overhead camshaft, four-cylinder 250cc engine from 1939. It still looks quite modern today, they only made a handful and it was never raced, but they have an engine and a complete motorcycle on display. I certainly didn’t expect to be checking out motorcycle engineering in Pesaro.