Almost 20 years ago, the New York Times newspaper wrote a famous article entitled “Is Le Marche the Next Tuscany? At that time, for most tourists from abroad, the Marche was still an unknown region of Italy. Maybe they just knew a few towns along the coast, like Pesaro or the port city of Ancona. Others had heard of the Renaissance city of Urbino, but nothing else.
For the Italians, too, the Marches were perhaps just a transit region on the way south.
Marche is characterized by its rolling hills.
In fact, 70% of the region is made up of hills, on the tops of which the towns are located. Another characteristic of the landscape is the strong presence of agriculture, which dates back to the period of natural leases. When driving through, one can admire the hundreds of small farmsteads, bordered by oak trees, which characterize this region in such a picturesque way. But the Adriatic Sea is still omnipresent. Whether you are sitting on top of a hill or even in the mountains, you can see the sea, or at least smell it!
This tourist gem, largely spared from mass tourism, has all kinds of surprises in store: one of Italy’s most spectacular natural wonders, the Frasassi stalactite caves, a remarkable density of historic theaters and a truffle stronghold that bears comparison with Piedmont. Thanks to its location beyond the main Milan-Rome axis, it has been able to preserve much of Italy’s ancient charm. In some small villages in the hills, you’d think life had stopped here in the 1970s.
High time to discover this delightful region.
The Italian city of Urbino is located in the Marche region and has only about 15,000 inhabitants. It was founded in the 6th century and gained great fame, especially during the Renaissance. Thanks to its many magnificent churches and imposing architecture, Urbino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Those who spend their vacations in the city can take relaxing walks through the picturesque old town and enjoy its historical atmosphere. The city’s numerous small cafes and restaurants invite you to relax while enjoying the view of the impressive buildings and the idyllic countryside in the surrounding area. A visit to the Palazzo Ducale or a trip to one of the surrounding towns: a stay in Urbino will remain unforgettable for visitors for a long time.
The most beautiful building in the city is the Palazzo Ducale, built in the 15th century as the residence of the Duke of Urbino. Today, the palace houses the Galeria Nazionale delle Marche, which exhibits important works of art from the Renaissance. Also worth seeing is the Casa Santi in Urbino, the birthplace of the famous artist Raphael. It is also worth visiting the Duomo di Urbino, built at the end of the 18th century.
At a small bend in the Adriatic coast lie the city and province of Ancona. In this “elbow” (Greek: Ankon) is the lively port, which since the 2nd century BC has great importance for trade and passenger traffic of the Adriatic riparian. Here numerous cafes, bars and restaurants offer everything from breakfast to nightly cocktails. Fish specialties are best enjoyed at the casual Sot’Ajarchi (Via Marconi 93). Trattoria La Moretta, family-owned since 1897, offers regional delicacies.
Culture buffs visit the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Piazza, a 10th-century Romanesque church, and the Chiesa di San Francesco by Giorgio Orsini, built in the 15th-century Venetian Gothic style. The Duomo in Piazza di San Ciriaco delights with its mix of Lombard, Romanesque, Gothic and Byzantine elements. The Galleria Comunale Francesco Podesti Museum displays modern art as well as works by Titian and other old masters. In the Archaeological and Prehistoric Museum, the settlement history of the province of Ancona can be impressively traced.
14. Ascoli Piceno
In the southern Marche, set between immense mountain ranges and surrounded by the waters of the Tronto and Castellano rivers, the traveler comes across a place widely known for its evocative architecture: the provincial capital of Ascoli Piceno.
Originally settled by the Piceno tribe, Ascoli Piceno came under Roman influence in ancient times. Franks and Hohenstaufen ruled here over the centuries; in the Middle Ages the town repeatedly defended itself against the threatening Saracen invasion.
The bridges Ponte di Cecco and Ponte Romano di Solestà date back to Roman times. The heart of the medieval city is the atmospheric “Piazza del Popolo”. Paved with the ubiquitous light-colored travetine stone, which also adorns numerous buildings, it is considered one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. The piazza is also the site of some of the city’s most interesting buildings: the 13th century Palazzo del Popolo, the Gothic church of San Francesco, adjacent to it the “Loggia dei Mercanti” market hall and the famous “Caffè Meletti” coffee house.
If you visit Ascoli Piceno in August, you can expect a very special experience: the colorful horse show “Giostra della Quintana”. The city celebrates with this spectacle every year the victorious fight against the Saracens in the Middle Ages.
Situated in the middle of the Italian Marche, about 20 kilometers south of Ancona, you will find the small town of Loreto with about 13,000 souls. Not far from the foothills of the Gran Sasso mountains, one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Catholic world has developed here near the Adriatic coast. Quite a few people say that Loreto is probably the second most important place of pilgrimage in Italy after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The place of pilgrimage became famous because of the “Basilica of the Holy House”. This basilica is said to be the house where Mary, the mother of Jesus, grew up and received a message from the Archangel Gabriel that she would become pregnant with the baby Jesus. After the Crusaders lost the Holy Land, the house of the Holy Family is said to have been brought by angelic hands from Nazareth to Loreto.
The actual house of Mary was covered in the 16th century with a monumental marble covering on which the story of Mary is depicted in various representations and reliefs. Also in the 16th century, the basilica above the House of Mary was completed.
The city of Pesaro is located on the Adriatic Sea on the east coast of Italy. Vacationers can expect characteristic palaces, cozy squares and many inviting restaurants, cafes and bars. In addition, the beautiful beaches and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea are among the best reasons to choose a vacation in Pesaro.
A stroll through the bustling harbor, a walk through the picturesque old town or dreamy hours of sun on the coast: Pesaro is the ideal vacation spot for the whole family. Last but not least, visitors should definitely take a trip to the banks of the Foglia River, which flows through the city and has a lasting impact on its image.
Those who spend their vacations in Pesaro will also benefit from the many historical sights and the relaxing atmosphere of the city. The main attractions are the imposing 15th century Palazzo Ducale, the impressive Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta and the Rocca Costanza fortress. Apart from these, Pesaro is the birthplace of Gioachino Rossini, which is why guests can experience the composer’s birthplace, Casa Rossini, in addition to performances at the Teatro Rossini.
Fermo is one of the cities in Italy where the classic Italian life, the stream of tourists and the student life, known from all the major university cities around the world, mix and create a unique atmosphere from which it is difficult to get away. The aspect that Fermo can look back on a history that is as interesting as it is eventful makes a visit to the city even more interesting and appealing.
Fermo, as it exists today, is not a coastal town. In the history of the town there were times when Fermo was one town with the nearby Porto San Giorgio. The last witness of this period is the hamlet of Lido di Fermo, which today represents a small coastal town in its own right, where Fermo’s largest tourist traffic can be found.
Lothar I, emperor of the Carolingians, founded the school in Fermo in 835 AD, which still operates as a university and is one of the oldest of its kind in Italy. The Palazzo degli Studi, which was once a university campus and now houses the historic library, tells of the early days of the school in Fermo. In addition to the historic campus, several sacred buildings in Fermo are also worth visiting. For example, the cathedral, parts of which were built as early as the 5th century.
10. Conero Riviera
The entire area owes its name to Monte Conero (from the Greek “Komaros”, strawberry tree). Situated on a promontory, the 572 meter high mountain juts out into the sea, where it drops steeply into the water. A unique sight on the otherwise rather flat Adriatic coast between Venice and Gargano.
The Conero National Park is the heart of this multifaceted area. It encompasses the coastline as well as the mountainous hinterland and extends over an area of 5800 hectares: from Ancona in the north to behind Sirolo and Numana in the south. On the wooded slopes of the nature reserve thrive, among other things, cypresses, pines, broom, holm oaks – and of course the Komaros, the strawberry tree.
The Riviera del Conero is especially appreciated by bathing tourists for its crystal clear water. Touristically well developed beaches for the whole family can be found among others in the area around Numana, Porto Recanati or Porto Potenza Picena – beach promenade with cozy cafes and restaurants included. If you prefer a secluded spot by the water, you can head for the bay of Mezzavalle. It can only be reached on foot via a hiking trail and lies in the midst of unspoiled nature.
9. Furlo Gorge
At an altitude of 212 meters above sea level, the Candigliano River has carved a breathtaking gorge between the Pietralata and Paganuccio mountains. Since 2001, the Gola del Furlo has been part of the state nature reserve and is promoted to tourists as Italy’s own “Grand Canyon.”
In the central Italian province of Pesaro and Urbino in Marche region, the spectacular Furlo Gorge, also known as Furlo Pass or Gola del Furlo, is located on the famous ancient Roman road Via Flaminia. Here you can admire breathtaking views and take in a piece of history.
The breathtaking Furlo Gorge is a part of the state nature reserve. To facilitate travel on the Via Flaminia, the Roman Emperor Vespasian built a tunnel through one of its narrowest points and named it “Forulum,” which is Latin for “little hole.” Next to it lies a smaller tunnel from Etruscan times.
Over the centuries, battles between various warring parties have raged over the strategically important gorge, not excluding the Second World War.
For a century, the Candigliano River has been dammed by a dam 200 meters below the Furlo tunnel.
8. Monti Sibillini National Park
Central, in the middle of Italy, on the border of the regions of Umbria and Marche lies the 70000 hectare Monte Sibillini National Park.
Belonging to the Apennine mountain range, the almost 2500m high Sibillini Mountains of the National Park have an alpine character. In the National Park, founded in 1993, there are more than 20 peaks that exceed 2000 meters in altitude.
Two of the highest mountains, Monte Vettore (2476 m) and Monte Sibliia (2173 m), are well accessible and accordingly popular with hikers. On wide roads you can get very close to these peaks and in the north and west even cable cars, of small ski resorts lead up to 2000m.
The rugged rock faces, deep caves, beautiful mountain lakes and flowering valleys and plateaus of the Monti Sibillini are a true paradise for hikers and mountain bikers.
Varied vegetation, sometimes reminiscent of Iceland and sometimes of South America, characterizes the landscape: the lower levels of the national park, up to about 1700m, are mostly wooded, while the higher elevations are covered with grass throughout.
According to legend, the Apennine Sibyl, a figure from Roman mythology, lived in a grotto just below the Monte Sibilla peak. She is not one of the known ten Sibyls, but since she was in charge of agriculture and crafts, she has survived in the memory of the inhabitants of the area. In front of the entrance of this cave she predicted the future, which attracted many people seeking advice at that time.
Have you ever wondered, reading a book or looking at medieval books, how was paper made back then? Today, when millions of information come to us, including so many small values printed on paper, the question seems strange and trivial, but it will seem more logical to you after visiting the Museum of Paper and Filigran in Fabriano.
Don’t be afraid to hear the word museum. This is a special, living and interactive museum. You can observe (and also participate in) the entire process of paper processing, illustrated by the “paper masters”: from the arrival and storage of rags to distribution.
In the rooms you will be assaulted by the sounds of the machines used to smash the rags, and you will feel the smell coming out of the large tanks where they are filtered. You will be impressed by the patience and mastery of the hands of those who create the watermark.
Fabriano is not only the land of paper masters, but also of artistic beauties.
The small and beautiful old town, which you can walk entirely on foot, still preserves the medieval itinerary, the features and narrow streets, the contiguous buildings and the opening squares, so that you can see beautiful architectural details such as fountains, porches or enchantments noble palaces.
6. Frasassi Caves
Dripstone caves with stalagmites and stalactites have always exerted a fascination on people. In the municipality of Genga, just below the Natural Park of the Gola della Rossa, is the Grotte di Frasassi, a unique cave system that rainwater has carved into the rock.
The exciting world under the ground winds through a 1,500 meter long path, where you pass through spaces created by nature, deep chasms and lakes. Thanks to the artificial lighting, you almost feel like you’ve been transported to a fairy tale world full of magic.
In June 1948, three speleologists discovered the entrance to the Grotta del Fiume, then in 1966 they found a side branch in it more than a kilometer long. After further exciting explorations, they finally reached Grotta Grande del Vento in 1971, when they happened to notice a strong wind. Some time later, the explorers were able to penetrate into the gigantic Abisso Ancona grotto below.
The cave, which is one of the largest in the world, has a length of 180 meters, a width of 120 meters and a height of enormous 200 meters. Inside, numerous blocks are irregularly arranged, resulting from the earth movements and collapses of the last millennia.
Gradara (also known as Gradèra by the locals) is a municipality of almost 5,000 inhabitants located a few kilometers from the Adriatic coast in the Marche region, more precisely in the province of Pesaro and Urbino.
With its well-preserved castle Castello di Gradara and its impressive ramparts, it is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Other interesting sights in this epicenter of medieval beauty include the Museo Storico, the Teatro dell’Aria falconry and the nearby coastal park Parco Naturale Monte San Bartolo.
The main attraction of the small village is the fortress complex Castello di Gradara. It was built in the middle of the 12th century and is one of the most imposing and best preserved medieval structures in all of Italy.
The fortress sits picturesquely on a hill about 140 meters high and is surrounded by two rings of walls, the outer of which is almost 800 meters long. During a walk on the accessible fortress walls you have a great view of the Adriatic coast and the rolling hills of the Marche.
The castle is also particularly famous as the setting for the tragedy of Paolo Malatesta and Francesca di Rimini in Dante’s Inferno, the first part of his Divine Comedy.
4. Chiaravalle Abbey, Fiastra
The Abbadia di Fiastra, in the heart of the province of Macerata, is one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in Italy.
The foundation of the monastery dates back to 1142, when Gualtiero II, Marquis of Ancona, donated a large plot of land between the Chienti and Fiastra to the Cistercian Order. 12 monks came from Chiaravalle Abbey in Milan to supervise the construction of the complex, using waste materials from nearby Urbisaglia.
After reconquering the surrounding woodland, the Abbey of Fiastra acquired power and territories that stretched from Macerata to Numana, housing about 200 monks and controlling more than 30 churches and monasteries. From the 14th to the 15th century the monastery experienced an inexorable decline, also due to various misfortunes and plunders.
The Abbey of Fiastra was built by French architect-monks with elements of Romanesque and Gothic styles. Starting from the cloister, following a square plan, rises the Latin cruciform church with three naves and marked on the solar axis, regulated by the strict Cistercian forms, the chapter house, the auditorium, the scriptorium, the refectory and the basement. In the nineteenth century at the behest of Mr. To the south side of the cloister was added Sigismondo, his residence in neoclassical style.
In the green hills of the Conero, just a few kilometers from the coast, lies a town widely known for its cultural heritage; connoisseurs immediately associate its name with literature and painting, with architecture and music: Recanati, on the lower reaches of the Musone and Potenza rivers.
In the small streets of the old town there are many architectural gems to discover: splendid noble palaces, the historic town hall, the medieval tower Torre del Borgo, but also impressive sacred buildings. The church of San Domenico and the 14th century Cathedral of San Flaviano are among them; the latter houses the tomb of Pope Gregory XII, who died in Recanati in 1417.
Art lovers should not miss a visit to the city’s painting gallery in Villa Colloredo Mels. Here are exhibited, among others, important works by the painter Lorenzo Lotto, one of the most important Italian painters of the 16th century. In summer, the elegant building is also the venue for the popular opera festival “Villa inCanto”.
However, one artist in particular has left his mark on Recanati: the poet Giacomo Leopardi, who was born here in 1789. The life and work of the great poet are alive everywhere in the city.
Macerata is the capital of the province of the same name in the Italian Marche region. 43,000 inhabitants live in the beautiful old Italian city, which impresses from afar with its historic-looking panorama.
As in many cities of this region, in Macerata you can really breathe in the soul of Italy. The breath of history, the mentality of the people and the Mediterranean flair that makes Italy one of the favorite vacation destinations for many: here you can feel it all with every step.
Despite the beauty and authenticity of this city, Macerata is not very well known to many tourists. This is probably also due to the fact that Macerata is located somewhat inland. But exactly this circumstance leads among other things also to the fact that the beautiful old town is not flooded by tourists.
University town with a lot of flair and a penchant for fashion and culture.
Macerata is known for two things in Italy. First, Macerata is an old university town. So the old university palace is also one of the most beautiful sights in Macerata.
On the other hand, people know Macerata because the fashion industry is quite strong here. But also opera fans know Macerata. Because in the city there is a huge open-air opera stage called Sferisterio.
The Italian town of Fossombrone is located south-southwest of Pesaro and east of Urbino in the province of Pesaro and Urbino in the Marche region. Situated on a hillside dominated by the ruins of the 15th century fortress, the Italian town has features associated with ancient Rome. Particularly worth seeing is the bridge Ponte della Concordia.
The archaeological area where the ancient Forum Semproni stood bears witness to this glorious past. The numerous finds from the area are kept in the Archaeological Museum “A. Venarecci”. However, if you look around the upper part of the city, you will notice the remains of the Rocca Malatestiana. From the fortress you can enjoy a magnificent view.
Walking through the old town, you can visit Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop’s Palace), the Pinacoteca Civica (Municipal Art Gallery) founded in 1901, and the house where the painter Francesco Guerrieri is said to have lived. Finally, a visit to the Casa Museo e Quadreria Cesarini, a bourgeois residence from the early 20th century, is a must. Not far from the city you can visit the Marmitte dei Giganti, a beautiful gorge formed by the strong erosion of the water on the limestone rock.