MARCHE

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On the central-east side of Italy lies Le Marche (The Marches). The region is known for its varied landscape. Wedged between the verdant Apennine mountains, and rolling hills that descend towards the crystal-clear blue Adriatic, there are an abundance of sites to see while enjoying a slower-paced, relaxing travel experience.

Marche is Italy’s land of infinite discovery.  A region that some would say is becoming the ‘new Tuscany,’ travelers can expect hot summers, and cold windy winters. While it can be hot between mid-July to mid-August, it is rarely overcrowded, and the mountains provide refuge from the hot coast. If you’re looking for a cooler travel experience, May, June, and September are the ideal months to consider.

As a region that is slowly becoming the next hot tourist spot, Le Marche is a gem to discover. Here, out-of-towners will find everything essential of an Italian vacation. Summing up the whole of Italy, Le Marche offers sea, mountains, history, art, local traditions, spirituality, nature, the best Italian cuisine, and of course, wine.

Ancona

 

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

Walking and Trekking: Le Marche, similar to the landscapes of Monti Sibillini National Park, the Gran Sasso, and the Monti della Laga National Parks, offers astonishing landscapes with exquisite bouquets of flora and fauna. Here you can enjoy bird watching, catching glimpses of rare birds like golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and eagle owls, while trekking enthusiasts can take long walks through the woods and forests.

Mountain Sports: Breathe in some of the crisp mountain air while overlooking the patch-work countryside of Le Marche. Hit the slopes at ski resors like Sassotetto and Ussita e Bolognola.

Sailing, Windsurfing, and Water Sports: Looking to sail or windsurf, but you’ve never had the chance to try either? Don’t worry. Sailing and windsurfing schools in Civitanova Marche and Porto Sant’Elpidio offer lessons for those who want to try something new. Or, looking to raise the adrenaline to the next level? Take to the air with hang gliding. Don’t worry, most vacationers are new to this extreme sport, and Marche’s flying clubs will take great care of you with lessons for beginners.

PLACES TO VISIT

Arriving in Le Marche there are so many options of things to do, making it difficult to choose which to do first. Thankfully, many of the hilltop medieval villages offer a one stop solution. Many fiestas and outdoor parties are held in the summer and autumn months by local artists. Or check out the larger provincial towns such as Urbino, Macerata, and Ascoli Piceno.  Here, like any other city, you will find a wonderful mixture of impressive architecture ranging from Romanesque, Gothic, and Medieval to Renaissance, to museums, innumerable churches, abbeys, monasteries, and sanctuaries adorned with ancient frescoes, painting, panels, statues, and sculptures of the Renaissance period.

MUST SEES

Urbino’s Ducal Palace: Palazzo Ducale (The Duke’s Palace) is a Renaissance building in the Italian city of Urbino. One of the most important monuments in Italy, it is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, and houses two masterpieces,  the Ideal City painting by Piero della Francesca and Raphael’s The Silent One. 

Loreto: Located on the coast of Le Marche is Loreta, home to one of the most important religious monuments in Italy, the Basilica della Santa Casa (Shrine of the Holy House). As tradition would have it, the Basilica della Santa Casa contains the house in which the Virgin Mary lived.

Macerata: Consisting of two towns adjoined by an elevator, Macerata is famous for its annual outdoor opera festival, Sferisterio Opera Festival. Other major sights to see include the 12th century Cathedral, the Renaissance Loggia dei Mercanti located in the central Piazza della Libertà, Palazzo Ricci and its museum and art gallery, and finally, Palazzo Buonaccorsi.

Grotte di Frasassi: Grotte di Frasassi is one of Italy’s largest and most famous complexes of caves (karst phenomena). Out of the approximated 22 miles of cave, only 8 miles have been excavated, and a little less than half a mile are open to the public. Explore the largest single cavern in Europe, Grotta Grande del Vento and see the orange pipes and water well. 

Roman Temple of Monte Rinaldo: The perfect example of Roman architecture is a small village Monte Rinaldo. Dating back to 260 B.C. this impressive and unique temple is well-preserved and definite must see if you’re in the area.

Castello di Gradara: Atop the village of Gradara an imposing medieval fortress overshadows the area.  Boasting over 800 meters this famous castle provides one of the most picturesque landmarks along the Adriatic coastal strip, and a popular destination for many thousands of tourists staying in the nearby resorts.

Urbino

Urbino

FOOD SPECIALTIES

Vincisgrassi:  Vincigrassi is a type of lasagna said to have been made for the Austrian general once stationed the Le Marche, Prince Windischgratz. This classic Italian recipe is baked to perfection with parma ham, mushrooms, tomatoes, and cream.  Vincigrassi remains one of the most traditional and delicious Italian pasta dishes handed down from the picturesque hill-town of Macerata.

Ciauscolo: Dried, cured salami from Le Marche, in the province of Macerata, Ciauscolo is made of very finely ground pork and a substantial amount of fat. The meat is flavored simply with garlic, salt, and pepper. Due to its high fat content, Ciauscolo can be spread onto bread rather than sliced. A variant in some parts of Marche is called ciauscolo di fegato, mazzafegato or fegatino, in which pork liver is substituted for part of the fat. In this deviation of the classic recipe, orange zest, fennel fronds, or flowers are included in the spices.

Olive all’Ascolana: Typically served as antipasti, these stuffed and fried olives are sometimes eaten as a first course. This highly popular recipe is made of green olives, usually of the Ascolana strain, which are large, green and mild, then stuff with pork meat, and deep-fried.

Porchetta: Roast pork that can be found throughout Italy, Porchetta is flavored with fennel and fennel seeds, sliced and usually eaten with a hunk of bread.

SPECIAL EVENTS

La Quintana: If you’re looking for an authentic adventure back to the Middle Ages, La Quintana is the event to see. On the first Sunday of August, come out and enjoy the jousting tournament, and watch the six districts tilt their lances to hit the target. The day also includes a massive procession with around 1,400 town’s people dressed in 15th Century costumes with plenty of sideshows and open-air eating places.

Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo:  If you’re a true gastronome, or just love truffles, this is the event for you. Fiera celebrates the White Truffle Alba during this medival festival. It’s a place where you can really get to know the Truffle by submerging yourself into a unique, exhilarating atmosphere. Every Truffle on sale is verified by a Commission, and a group of experts remains on hand as a consumer information service.

Sagra dei Maccheroncini di Campofilone: Venture down to the small village of Campofilone on the first weekend in August and enjoy a festival where pasta, pasta, and more pasta is on the menu at this hearty summer food festival. The local maccheroncini (macaroni) is the star of this show. Not the typical macaroni you’d find in a box of Mac n’ Cheese, this long, spaghetti like pasta will be served with enticing ingredients like fresh fish, wine, garlic, meat sauces, and other Le Marche delicacies from both land and sea.

Sferisterio Opera Festival: Every summer in the magnificent Sferisterio arena in Macerata enjoy the premiere open-air opera festival.

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