Surprising and wonderful in its diversity, this region of central Italy, with its harmonious and winding shape, displays its beauty on all sides: cliffs and caves overlook unforgettable beaches, hills steeped in history, tradition and culture, against a backdrop of mountains with well-equipped facilities for ski lovers.
The region is in the main comprised of hills and mountains, embracing the Adriatic side of the Umbria-Marche Appennines, but with low-lying, sandy beaches. How could anyone forget the the long expanse of fine golden sands surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of San Benedetto del tronto, with its numerous lidos and pleasant walks along the shore, especially at sunset.
The Marche protects its natural environment through its National and Regional nature reserves, the oases of the WWF reserves; while the Monti Sibillini and Monti della Laga National Parks are a peerless spectacle for trekking enthusiasts. Don’t miss the Frasassi Caves, a must-see for tourists from all over Europe and of great interest to cavers because of the karst, that is dissolved limestone layers, landscape created by these awe-inspiring caves, some of which have been lived in since time began.
Orchards and vineyards as far as the eye can see cover the hills of Piceno and extend through the Esino Valley, surrounding farmhouses with the hospitality of times gone by where you can rediscover the simple taste of genuine food. Manor houses or old sharecroppers’ farms, now used as holiday farms, and tell tales of a way of life no longer seen.
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This region’s great past can be seen in its cities-of-art, enchanting piazzas resembling salons for people to meet and discuss the issues of the day, the medieval towns where time seems to stand still, the highways and elegant buildings.
Ascoli Piceno is one of Italy’s monumental cities, with its medieval historic centre and the Piazza del Popolo, adorned by arched open galleries, and the imposing bulk of the Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo with its crenellated tower. Visit the various workshops of local craftsmen, like those of violin-makers and ceramic-art, which attest to the skill and creativity of Ascoli’s inhabitants. On the first Sunday of August, the streets of the town act as a background to the memorable “Quintana”, where expert horsemen challenge each other at the Joust of the Saracen.
Ancona, an ancient port hub known as the “Gateway to the East”, takes care of its valuable monuments and welcoming beach. The Cathedral of San Ciriaco rises on the site of an ancient Greek acropolis and is considered as one of the most interesting medieval churches in the Marche.
The Marche too, with the historic centre of Urbino, is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and the Palazzo Ducale represents an engaging architectural and artistic example of the Italian Renaissance.
Another town to visit is Gradara with its fortress, a magnificent example of medieval military architecture and the place where, legend has it, Paolo and Francesca kissed, as written in the fifth canto of Dante’s Inferno. For religious tourism, the sanctuary of Maria di Loreto is an important stop, as it is considered one of the major pilgrimage destinations in the Catholic world.
If you love classical music, Pesaro in August hosts two weeks of complete immersion into the music of Gioacchino Rossini, who came from Pesaro. The Rossini Opera Festival has become an unmissable appointment for classical music lovers from all over the world, with the stunning setting of a town where there’s more on offer than culture alone.