When you think of a holiday in Italy, you may soon think of Lake Garda, Tuscany and Sicily. They are all wonderful of course, but there is much more to discover in Italy! One of those hidden gems is the region of Le Marche, or: The Marches. Here you will discover why this region is highly recommended.
Unknown makes unloved' certainly doesn't apply to Le Marche. This Italian region may be a little less known to the general public, but that says nothing about its beauty. Its location between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennines ensures that you have the best of both worlds: long sandy and pebble beaches, but also cosy mountain villages with an amazing view.
There are also plenty of beautiful cities to visit. You have Ancona (the capital) and below that the area Monte Conero, known for its good wines. Other recommendations are Urbino, Pesaro, Fano, Macerata, Ascoli Piceno and Fermo, where you will find beautiful large squares, cosy bars and restaurants, historical buildings and many museums. Very nice to discover!
Le Marche is the only Italian region written in the plural form, this probably is due to its high variety of views, its gorgeous coastal line, the mountains inland and the rolling hills in between, or maybe because of the many dialects that are spoken.. who knows....
Le Marche is situated in central Italy. On the east its border is the Adriatic coast and in the west it connects with Tuscany and Umbria. Le Marche has rolling hills which you normally only see in paintings. The hills connect the flat coastline with the mountains in the west. A strip of only 50 km.
The region is very authentic Italian mainly undiscovered by the many tourist, however that is changing in the last years.
Most of the tourists are Italians who go to the beach to have their holiday. Inland from the sea, in the many villages on the top of the hills and the old middle aged towns it remains quiete even in summer.
The coastal line stretches out for 180km as a chain of sand beaches, rocks, cliffs and bays. The two nature reserves (Conero, south of Ancona and Monte San Bartelo, north of Pesaro) have some of the most idyllic bays. In many of the places along the beach you will find the Bandiera Blu, this is the blue flag indicating that the sea water is checked on its quality and purity. It also indicates that these places have undertaken steps to protect the environment.
The hills start immediately after the flat coastal line and encompass about 70% of the region. The hills contain a rich variety of flowers and animals. You will find vineyards, olive trees, sunflower / grain fields and forests. On the hill tops you will find some of the most beautiful old towns. The landscape has some of the most beautiful views and is ideally equipped for hiking, horseback riding and cycling. You can also enjoy car, motor or scooter trips.
The Monte Sibillini, is a chain of mountains crossing 5 rivers. This area is part of the Apennines and includes the Monte Vettore (2476m) as its highest mountain, but its name comes from the Monte Sibilla (2175m). The beautiful rough richness of the landscape is very tempting to hike or do some serious mountaineering. This area is very popular for skiing during winter time.
A Holiday in Le Marche means enjoying the hospitality of the local people, beautiful nature, nicely renovated old towns and silence. The mix of lovely food, a day at the beach and some trips into nature and culture make this part of Italy to an ideal holiday location.
Fano is a beautiful city. Still almost completely walled in with the Roman gate of Emperor Augustus as entrance. The city consists of many nice streets and a beautiful square. At the end of July there is a jazz festival which mostly takes place by the sea. The 'passeggiata' is a nice boulevard where in the evening many families can be found to eat an ice cream or have a drink on a terrace. On the coast there are several beaches that are mainly visited by the locals.
Urbino is one of the jewels of Le Marche, 45min. drive from La Giravolta. Urbino shouldn't be missed when visiting Le Marche This small town, situated in the northern hills of the Le Marche region, was transformed in the fifteenth century from a fortified, medieval town into a dazzling, perfect Renaissance town that really exceeded all expectations. Since 1998, this Renaissance jewel has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the only place in Le Marche. There are many cultural highlights of which the 'Palazzo ducale' is the most important. Also worth a visit is the house where the great painter and architect Raffaello Sanzio, also known as Raphael, was born in 1483. In the house there is a museum. In the summer there are many festivals and activities in Urbino, including the 'Festa dell'Aquilone', or kite festival.
Senigallia is a port town about 40 minutes from La Giravolta. In Senigallia you will find 'La spiaggia di velluto' or 'the velvet beach'. The lovely 13 km long sandy beach is paradise for every beach lover. Also because you can walk at least eighty to a hundred metres into the sea before you reach your waist in the clear, clean water, which makes the beach very suitable for small children. Also fun for children in Senigallia is the castle Rocca Roveresca. There are several rooms to visit such as the dining room, kitchen, forge, barn, torture room, guns and outside there are some defensive guns lined up. The ticket also gives access to the small theatre opposite the castle. The castle is not that big and can be seen in 45-60 minutes. At the castle the annual Summer Jamboree Festival takes place, where American 40's and 50's music and culture is central.
Fossombrone is about 15 minutes drive from La Giravolta. A nice town with a regional function. There is a large market on Mondays and a good shopping street, the parade. Above the city is a large fortress and a nature reserve (Monte Cesane) where you can make good walks (well signposted routes). A little further on the 'gola di Furlo' is a gorge through which the roman access road to Rome used to run. You can still see the remains of it.
A real pearl of the Marche region is the beautiful village of Mondavio. This originally old castle town is characterized by its beautiful location and the fact that elements of the old fortress are still so well preserved. The beautiful authentic appearance of the village is more than enough to visit. Mondavio is a fine example of a fortified town that also looks as if the ravages of time have lost the village out of sight for centuries. This makes Mondavio very worth visiting when you stay in the Marche region. The characteristic fortress dates from the fifteenth century and is definitely worth a visit. Another hidden gem of Mondavio is the beautiful theatre which is certainly a pleasant surprise inside. Note the beautiful balconies and the beautiful paintings that decorate the walls of the theatre and especially the ceiling. Within the walls of the castle, space was of course limited and this has resulted in a beautiful cosy village centre of small houses flanking the narrow streets. This makes you feel as if you are walking into an Italian village that has been a model for authentic Italian tourist services.
Parco Naturale Regionale Gola della Rossa e di Frasassi
About an hour's drive from La Giravolta is the Gola della Rossa e di Frasassi Natural Park, 'the green heart of Le Marche'. The park is famous for its caves and magical underworld, but also for its beautiful medieval villages and churches. Cavers consider the limestone caves at Frasassi to be the most beautiful in Europe. It was only after 1970 that a group of speleologists discovered this labyrinth of caves, crystal clear lakes, gorges, cracks and rock formations almost 19 km long. In 1974 the complex was opened to the public. There are spaces as large as cathedrals filled with magnificent formations of stalagmites and stalactites. All you can hear is the uninterrupted dripping of water that has formed this natural wonder over thousands of years. Everywhere you look it glistens before your eyes. The colourful crystal deposits are truly beautiful. At the nearby car park you can buy tickets. Access to the caves is only by bus and accompanied. There are several guided tours, from over 1 to 3 hours.
Ancona is the capital of Le Marche and is about an hour's drive from La Giravolta. Picturesque, that is probably the best way to describe Ancona. This port city is built against the slope of the Monte Conero. The harbour town proudly overlooks the Adriatic Sea and has been increasingly discovered by tourists in recent years. One of the reasons for this is the good ferry connections with Croatia or Greece. Since Roman times, the port has grown into an important trading centre. It was the emperors Caesar and Trajanus who fortified the city and developed it into a naval base. The old town is full of ancient monuments from several years of a long rich history. Special is the Mole Vanvitelliana, also known as the Lazzaretto of Ancona, a pentagon-shaped building from the 18th century. Originally it was used as a depot, a military hospital and as a quarantine. Today it houses the Omero Tactile Museum and hosts performances and festivals. A large part of the territory around Ancona falls within the Regional Park of the Conero. This beautiful area has vast forests, cliffs overlooking the sea, unspoilt nature and several beautiful beaches. Most beautiful cliffs can be found in Numana and Sirolo. About 20 kilometres south of Ancona is the town of Loreto. Since the 14th century it has been the most important place of pilgrimage in Italy after Rome.
Pesaro is the northernmost town of Le Marche and is situated by the sea, about 35 minutes drive from La Giravolta. Together with Urbino it forms the capital of the province of Pesaro e Urbino. In August the famous Rossini opera festival takes place here. Of course an old centre with squares, beautiful streets and many shops. Situated at the foot of the Monte San Bartolo natural park through which runs the beautiful road towards Gabbice Mare (the strada panoramica). Along the way you will find several beautiful villages and you can descend to several beautiful bays by the sea. Pesaro also has long beaches. Nice thing about Pesaro is that the historical centre connects to the boulevard. A visit to the centuries old city can be combined with a dip in the sea. Worth mentioning is the national park to the north of the city, a beautiful area for walks or bike rides. There are even walking routes that lead you to a number of secluded beaches. Pesaro is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Italy, because of a new cycle path that runs like a ring around the city.
Suasa Archaeological Park
Castelleone di Suasa is known for its archaeological park. Beneath the medieval castle lie the remains of the Roman municipality of Suasa from a few centuries before Christ. In 1987, an archaeological programme of excavations was started that led to the discovery of an ancient basalt street, the trading forum and one of the largest amphitheatres in Le Marche. The archaeological park is only a few minutes' drive from La Giravolta.