Le Marche Italy Travel Guide
Le Marche Italy nestles
among mountains and plains with blue flag beaches, castles, and towns
, and Ascoli Piceno
Marches, as they are known in English is one of Italy's most attractive
areas and the least visited.
is a pity as this is a wonderful area that in some ways I even prefer
to Tuscany as where Tuscany can be fairly closed in with the hills and
mountains, Le Marche is very much open countryside where your eyes are
drawn to the horizon of one rolling hill to the other.
One of the main reasons why Le Marche Italy is not visited very often
that traveling around is not as easy as Umbria
Beyond the narrow coastal plain and away from the major towns, the
roads are steep and twisting.
The treeless Mount Sibillini range in the south-west corner is
considered one of the most impressive stretches of the Apennines, and
could keep even the most die-hard walker busy for days.
But it is the small Medieval hill towns that are Le Marche's most
endearing feature. Urbino
are the more well known, but there are hundreds of lesser known
villages and towns worth exploring.
Level ground in the region is almost non exisitent as the hills and
mountains rise straight out of the sea throughout the region. The
mountains are fairly low, the highest being Monte Vettore, which is
almost 2,500 feet higher than the second highest.
The climate is better than that on the other side of the Appennines as
the situation of most of the settlements above sea level tends to give
lower than average temperatures in the summer, except right on the
A wide variety of vegetation can be seen in the region such as
chestnuts in the mountains, grapevines in the valleys and lower hills,
olive trees, cereals and grazing lands.
With regards to the animals in the area, where you will see wolves if
you are very lucky, or not so depending on the nature of your
encounter! - foxes, and even eagles can be seen soaring the thermals in
Train travel in Le Marche Italy can be slow, and destinations are
although one can reach Ascoli
by rail and there is an efficient bus service from
the coastal town of Pesaro
the other principal tourist city of the region.
Le Marche Countryside
Where is Le Marche in Italy?
Le Marche is a region of Central
Italy that shares its borders with Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany,
Umbria, Abruzzo and Lazio. (For more details see the map at the end of
When is the Best time to Visit Le Marche?
The best times to visit are spring, autumn, and even summer if you are
going to avoid the coastline. If you are wanting to visit in
the winter then head for the Sibillini mountains where you will find a
couple of ski resorts. (See Activities for kids below for details.)
The 4 Most Beautiful Towns in Le March
2) Ascoli Piceno
Le Marche Towns
Ancona, Le Marche Italy
The Arch of Trajan, Ancona
is the region's capital, and boasts the history of a port already well
established in Roman times, with an amphitheatre that could host 8000
spectators in the 1st century AD although today it is in ruins. And
there is the beautiful Arch
which was built in 115 AD.
far from the Arch is the magnificent Duomo or Cathedral that
built between the 12th century and 13th centuries and dedicated to San Ciriaco
Urbino, Le Marche Italy
The Ducal Palace in Urbino
is one of the pearls of Renaissance Italy and its palace is the home of
the Marches National Gallery which is one of Italy's most important.
The Palace is extensive and filled with ornate furniture, fine carpets
and some magnificent art work.
Among other works in the gallery one can see the Ritratto di
, known as La Muta
by Raffaelo, the Miracolo
dell' Ostia Profanata
by Paolo Uccello, the Veduta della
attributed either to Luciano Laurana or Piero
della Francesca, the Madonna di
, the Flagellation
by Piero della Francesca and the Last Supper
and the Resurrection
The province of Urbino also encompasses the city of Urbino with is
spectacular Ducal Palace
of Corpus Domini
and the 16th century Palazzo della
; and Gradara
with its Rocco (the fort) erected between the 13th and 15th
Pesaro, Le Marche Italy
Pesaro Town Square with the Ducal Palace on the right
Pesaro has a fine
historic center and is the birthplace of Rossini and Raphael. Visit the
Ducal Palace of Guido da
Montefeltro with its many paintings and beautiful
Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche
The Town Square of Ascoli Piceno
spent a week here one year I have to say that this is my favorite town
out of the 4. Ascoli Piceno has the stunning Piazza del Popolo, one of
the prettiest town squares in Italy.
Fermo, Le Marche Italy
Pedaso Beach, Fermo
If you are looking for
some interesting Roman architecture then head for Fermo. Here you will
find some fascinating underground Roman cisterns built between 40 - 50
A.D. There area about 30 underground chambers that were designed to
purify the water. Fermo also has some lovely beaches.
Medieval center has some fascinating little corners and important works
of art and architecture, including the 13th century cathedral with its
Amandola is one of the prettiest villages in the region
Le Marche Italy Beaches
Cupra Marittima in Le Marche
Le Marche has many fine
beaches. In fact, they have
28 blue flag
which is the assurance that these beaches are
clean and safe
for swimming. All along the Adriatic coast there are wide sandy beaches
that are sought out by the locals during the warmer months.
some places the coastline has definitely been overdeveloped and in
summer the locals head to the coast like lemmings and the traffic moves
at a snail pace over the weekends.
Good beaches in Le Marche can be found at Gabicce
, Cupra Marittima, San Benedetto
and Porto Potenza
there are the two fashionable seaside resorts of Numana
with the high
cliffs of Conero Riviera
windsurfing, fishing, sun bathing, swimming and other water sports can
be enjoyed along the length of the Le Marche coastline.
The beautiful Conero Riviera
Le Marche Italy Activities
is certainly lots to do in Le Marche Italy. With the spectacular and
foreboding looking Sibillini Mountains there are a host of activities
for your travel to Italy.
This range of mountains is an
excellent place for walking, rock climbing, bird watching, skiing,
cycling, horseriding and hiking. One sport that is very popular is
hang-gliding and if you are in the region look up and you are bound to
see a hang-glider or two taking off from Monti Sibillini.
Mount Sibillini covered with snow in winter
Le Marche Italy for Kids
40 kilometers west of Ancona along the s76, is Grotte de Frassasi
one of the most extensive
cave systems in Europe with underground lakes, stalagmites, stalactites
and crystal formations. The caves extend for 18 km. A 1.5 km
trail has been carefully carved out taking you to the many chambers.
give you some idea of the vastness of these caves, the Ancona Abyss is
almost 200 meters high, 180 meters wide and 120 meters long. It is so
large that it could easily accommodate Milan's cathedral. If you have
ever been to Milan and seen the duomo then you will know what I am
Certainly a great day out for the adults and
kids alike. Visiting caves is always a sure bet for pleasing your kids
in exchange for dragging them around one church or museum after the
There are several festivals that take place. There is the Carnival of Fermo
which is always a colorful affair. It is the oldest carnival in Italy
with large floats, street processions and a bonfire to end the carival.
Another festival that children will enjoy is the Torneo della
is a Medieval-style joust that takes place on the
first Sunday in August in Ascoli Piceno.
The Fano Carnival
Ski Le Marche
There are 4 skiing areas in Le Marche that have good facilities. As you
can see taking the kids here will not break the family bank! And the
best thing about skiing in Le Marche you don't have to waste your time
queing for ski lifts and chairs.
1) Sasso Tetto
where there are 7 button ski lifts
where there are 8 ski lifts
where there are 7 ski lifts, 4 chair lifts and 1 cable car
4) Monte Prata
where there are 4 ski lifts
is cheap here compared to Northern Italy. For example a 5 day
Sassotetto, excluding weekends will cost you Euros 46, and Euros 25 for
a 1 hour lesson.
For those of you are more adventurous and experts at skiing then you
may want to do the cross-country courses that the Sibillini mountains
have to offer. There are at Piani
Le Marche Italy Art Guide
Most of the artistic treasures are found nearly all outside of its
cities, and even some in particular can be found in remote places.
suce place is Offida
famous for its lacemaking, its singular triangular
piazza is dominated by the Palazzo
which is also home to the Archaelogical Museum
and the majestic Abbey
of Santa Maria della Rocco
Then there is Ripatransone
which also has an interesting Archaelogical Museum, a
cathedral worth visiting, the Corte
and if you take a trip into the historic
center of Ripatransone
where you will find the narrowest alley in all of Italy - Vicolo Stretto
it is only 43
centimenters wide! For those still in imperial measurements that is
only 19 inches!
is another interesting Le Marche town in Italy. It has a tiny town
center with an ancient fort built on an outcrop with pre-Romanesque
San Leo's Ancient Fort
a unique open-air theater that hold concerts and operas on a regular
basis, and particularly in the summer months.
della Santa Casa
or the House of the Virgin Mary. Legend has it that this 15th century
the home of Jesus's childhood. This is one of the most loved religious
shrine in the world.
Finally, there is the tiny hamlet of San Vittore delle Chiuse
named after a fine Romanesque church.
Slow Food Italy - Le Marche
Each town within Le Marche holds their own food festivals
you will also see people with their dogs truffle hunting or looking for
the prized porcini mushrooms.
are wine and olive oil tastings as well as homes that open their
kitchens to the public for cookery lessons where Marchigiani dishes are
prepared and shared.
Because the region has a long coast line fish appears on menus in
various forms. One of the dishes characteristic of Ancona is brodetto
a rich fish chowder containing as many as 9 types of Adriatic
Ascoli Piceno, inland, is famous for two dishes; olive ascolane
which I can vouche for and couldn't get enough of when we visited, and vincisgrassi
are large olives stuffed with chicken livers and other ingredients and
then rolled in breadcrumb and then deep fried. Great to eat with drinks
before your meal.
is a local version of lasgane, far richer than you are likely to find
anywhere else in Italy. This is a delicious lasagne with meat sauce,
chicken livers, and black truffles but surprisingly, no
Don't miss it!
Ascoli Piceno is also home of the licorice-flavored liqueur anisette
However, Le Marche is also a wine growing area and one of the best
drops is the Vernaccia
, a sparkling red wine. But then, perhaps I
am biased as I only drink red wine, however, the dry, white
is the best known wine in the region. Jesi is
the area you want to head off to for wine tasting.
I love about this region is the traditional way of living and being as
self-sufficient as possible. People still keep and slaughter their own
pigs to make cured hams and salami. Sheep's cheese is made and is often
flavored with thyme and matured in caves.
Truffles, black, white and grey are sold in the markets at Aqualunga in
the Pesaro area.
lot of the food in the Marches use stuffing to stuff all sorts of
things, not just olives. Pigeons and rabbits are stuffed, along with
artichokes and squid. The stuffing, especially when stuffing
pigeons and rabbits, is made with truffles, salami, raw ham and Marsala
wine among a few other ingredients.
The stuffed and baked artichokes are called Scarcilfuli a
and combine olive oil, wine, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs. Squid is
stuffed in the same way, but when they cook red mullet in Pesaro they
stuff it with raw ham and sage leaves.
But it is not just fish,
pigeons and rabbits that are on offer. The meat is of an excellent
quality here, and so good in fact that the meat consumption here is the
highest in Italy!
The mixed grilled meats cooked over hot embers on an open fire are
you have a sweet tooth there is a sweet ravioli from Ascoli Piceno
and Ancona. You can also find a rice pudding with candied
and chocolate chips called Bastrengo
that is made especially for Christmas.
Shopping in Le Marche Italy
Le Marche is well known for its leather products and so if you are
looking for leather bags
and more particularly shoes
then you will be able to indulge in some good retail therapy. Head for
Macerata and Fermo if you want to see the leatherwork on sale.
There area a number of other crafts that are practiced across the
region. Around Offida you can find lace makers making pillow lace
In Mogliano cane
and wicker work
and sold here.
There are also wrought
Goldsmiths can be found in Jesi, Fossombrone and
Coppersmiths are found in the Ascoli area, but particularly
at Force and Comunanza. Wrought iron workers can be
throughout the region.
Finally, if you want to buy some Majolica
head for Urbino, Urbania (formerly Casteldurante), Pesaro and
Ascoli Piceno where these sought out pottery items are produced.
Day Trips in Le Marche
Day Trip from Ascoli Piceno 1
If there is one town
that you have to see in Le Marche it is this one.
The historic part of town has remained unchanged for more than 500
the SS4 eastwards from Ascoli as far as Sant' Antonio where a minor
road runds off to the left up a tributary valley of the Tronto to the
village of Offida
has some remains of its fortified walls. The Palazzo del Comune, which
houses a museum is one of the finest in the Marches.
perhaps one of the main reasons why I like visiting Offida is because
you can often
see the women of the town in summer sitting at
doors of their cottages, or even sitting on stools outside
doors, making lace, one of the town's main sources of income
since the end of the 15th century.
There is even a bronze statue of a group of women lace
making that is situated at one of Offida's gates.
Every summer a lace fair
is held in
the Palazzo Comunale during the month of August. It is called the Il
Fusello d’ Oro (The Golden Spindle)
competition is built around a theme.
After leaving Offida go into the Tesino Valley and after
crossing the river follow it for 4.5 miles towards the sea until a side
road climbs up the steep hill towards Ripatransone
Part of the town is still typically medieval in appearance within the
old defensive walls and with its fine views in all directions it is a
town well worth visiting. In fact, it has been awarded an Orange Flag
by the Italian Touring Club as a symbol of excellence.
is built on top of a near impregnable hill which was very important
stronghold during the Middle Ages. Despite the general medieval
atmosphere most of the public buildings, with the exception of the Palazzo del Podesta
finished in 1304, are relatively modern.
Don't forget to look for the narrowest street in Italy while you are
here as mentioned earlier!
This town has a small population but it is a vibrant little town that
has a number of traditional events throughout the year.
Leaving Ripatransone and taking the gradual descent into Grottammare
8 miles away is a beautiful drive. Long stretches of coast is visible
along with the Sibillini mountains, the Maiella, the Gran Sasso d'
Italia and the Monte dell' Ascensione.
Grottammare is an old
medieval hill top town that stands high above the modern sprawling
suburbs lining the seashore. Although one of the most popular seaside
resorts in the Marche, the closeness of the hills to the sea has meant
that only a thin strip has been built up and although the beaches do
get crowded the are not nearly as bad as those further north.
Grottammare, Le Marche
Follow the coast for a
short distance down to San Benedetto del Tronto, and then turn inland,
up into the hills again towards Acquaviva
where the main occupations are making fishing nets and working with
straw. It is an interesting town with an irregular-shaped 15th century
fortress with its round keep and powerful corner towers with defensive
walls around the town.
From Acquaviva drop down to the SS4 in the Tronto Valley and head back
to Ascoli Piceno.
Day Trip from Ascoli Piceno 2
the road west traveling on the minor road signposted for Venerotto
which begins with a very steep hill to climb away from the city. Turn
left at Venarotta then right after 3 miles. From here the road climbs
steadingly for 6 miles up the side of Monte Teveraccio. At the top of
the climb is a little church with a minor road running off to the left
alongside it. Take this road and then follow the signs for Montemonaco
is the second highest town in Le Marche and so this is an excellent
little town to visit if you want to hike or do some walking. Two of the
best excursions from Montemonaco are those to the top of Mount Sibilla
and to the impressive ravine called
Gola dell Infernaccio
which separates Monte Sibilla and
ravine, which is well over 2 miles long is at times no more than 10
feet wide. Legend has it that Monte Sibilla was once the home of
Sibilla, priestess of Apollo. Whether this is true or not cannot be
established, but the cave a few feet below the summit, called Grotta
, has been used in the past by witches and
members of other cults.
Montemonaco 9 miles away is Amandola. There are a number of wonderful
churches, although none as important as the Abbazia dei Santi Rufino e
Vitale 5 miles away in the north-east. The abbey was rebuilt in the
12th or 13th century on the site of an earlier 6th century Benedictine
abbey and contains several fine 13th and 14th century frescoes
particularly in the crypt.
The most important base for those who like winter sports is Sarnano 7.5
miles to the north of Amandola and higher.
Make your way back to Ascoli Piceno.
Accommodation in Le Marche Italy
If you are looking for
campsites in Le Mache many sites have been
created along the coast and attract a large number of foreign tourists
particularly from Germany. Inland however, camping facilities are rare
and only the large towns have hotels for guests. However, with over
500 hotels to choose from
, no doubt you will find something
to suit your budget. However, when it comes
to slow travel there are many villas to rent for your Italian holidays
in the region.
Getting to Le Marche Italy
superhighway the A14 runs north-south along the coast,
linking the Marches to Bologna and Venice.
inland routes contect the coastal A14 to the larger towns in
Marches, inlcuding Urbino, Jesi, Macerata, and Ascoli Piceno. However,
inland secondary roads in mountain areas can be narrow and tortuous.
main rail line from Rome to Ancona passes through Narni, Terni, Spoleto
and Foligno. Branch lines link the central hub, Ancona, with the inland
towns of Fabriano and Ascoli Piceno.
The urban and suburban
bus system, in the Marche, is efficient and
reaches the areas not served by major road or rail links.
international airport is at Rimini, but it is a small one.
It may be better off flying into Rome, Florence or Bologna if your
country doesn't have access to this airport. Getting to the region
would then involve renting a car or relying on public transport.
Map for Le Marche Italy
courtesy of Italy
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