Marche (translated as The Marches) lies on the eastern side of central Italy between the Apennines Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. It is bordered by the regions of Emilia Romagna to the north, Umbria to the west and Lazio and Abruzzo to the south. The region is an amazing combination of beautiful rolling countryside, mountain ranges, ancient hilltop villages, stunning coastline and beautiful cities. Marche offers the traveller a wealth of culture, art, crafts, excellent local cuisine and beautiful scenery and being fairly undiscovered you will rarely be faced with the crowds now associated with the tourist sites of Tuscany and Umbria.
The list of villages, towns and cities worth exploring is endless, each offering its own unique atmosphere, charm and attractions. Urbino (a world heritage site) has one of the most interesting and well-preserved historical centres in Italy. Home to Raphael, Urbino is famous throughout the world as one of the principal centres of the Italian Renaissance. The Palazzo Ducale houses the principal museums and is well worth a visit. Southern Marche will delight you with Ascoli Piceno, a beautiful city built of travertine marble with 2 grand piazzas filled with Romanesque architecture offering a wealth of museums, art galleries, churches and libraries. Magical around Christmas with an open-air ice skating rink in Piazza Arringo.
Marche's coastline offers some stunning scenery and in particular Monte Conero
with its high cliffs (offering 18 walks) and small beaches tucked away in corners of natural beauty. Even closer for our guests is Porto San Giorgo, a pretty medieval fishing town with safe, sandy beaches, a lovely marina and established restaurants catering for families and couples alike. During July the locals hold the traditional Festa del Pesce (Fish Festival), where the fish is cooked in huge frying pans.
Lakes, waterfalls, deep gorges, woodlands and ancient monasteries are just some of the delights of this National Park
. Whatever the season the scenery is stunning whether you choose to travel by car, cycle, on foot or even skiis! To break up your journey stop off at one of the many excellent restaurants offering delicious mountain cuisine.
One of the most complex karst systems in Italy. The caves offer an underground world of lakes, beautiful transparent alabaster formations, vaulted caverns and stalactites suspended like daggers. Guided tours are available throughout the year. Visit www.frasassi.com
for more information.
Macerata Opera Festival
Held every summer during July and August in the magnificent Sferisterio open air theatre, second only to Verona. Tickets are easily booked online at www.sferisterio.it
Abbadia di Fiastra and Urbs Salvia
, less than a 10 minute drive away was founded by Cistercian monks in 1142. Open to the public with shops, bars and restaurants, the abbey is set in acres of grounds offering walking, cycling and horseriding. Minutes away is the archaeological area of Urbs Salvia - the best preserved Roman remains in Marche dating back to the second century.
For those wishing to take part in more energetic activities the region offers skiing, walking, tennis, horse riding, fishing, yachting, recreational sailing, hot air ballooning, twin engine go-carting and quad biking. There is a water park within an hours drive and a zoo at Ancona.We hope you have been tempted by our introduction to this stunning area. There are endless examples we could write about, but for more detailed information on the region, please visit Marche Voyager www.le-marche.com