Visit the Marche: what to see and what to do in the region

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Aina Martin
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wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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The Marche is a region of central Italy located on the east coast, made up of rolling hills and fertile plains at the base of the Apennine mountains. Bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the east, theUmbria Tuscany and Lazio to the west, theEmilia Romagna e San Marino to the north, theAbruzzo to the south.

The region includes five provinces: Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Macerata, Pesaro and Urbino and Fermo.


Located between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennines, this region is a mosaic of ancient villages scattered over hills, cities with architectural and artistic works of great value, natural parks and environmental reserves, wonderful beaches and impressive high cliffs. No less important are its favorable climate, the excellence of its tourist infrastructure as well as the quality of its gastronomy.


In the Marche there are more than 1.000 monuments of historical interest, around 100 cities with an exceptional artistic heritage, 33 fortified citadels, 106 castles and 15 fortresses. Not bad for a region that has only one and a half million inhabitants!

The region offers a coastal landscape so varied in shapes and colors, made from 180 kilometers of coastline, 26 seaside resorts facing the Adriatic Sea, defined by beautiful beaches, picturesque bays, marinas and 16 blue flag beaches.

Le Beach resorts they offer services able to satisfy the needs of both families and young people: they are designed to respect the territory and can be the perfect destination for a relaxing holiday.

Beach holidays in the Marche: best seaside destinations

The Marches boast 16 blue flags, which certify the criteria of sustainability and respect for the environment, in terms of tourism. The standards also include: modern purification systems, separate waste collection, limited traffic, large pedestrian areas, cycle paths, environmental education and information. Along the 180 kilometers of the coast it is possible to moor in 9 marinas.



The northern coast, the so-called "Riviera of the Hills“, Features cliffs and inlets that create an extraordinary landscape. The beaches are sandy and white, especially the long one a Gabicce Mare.

From here you can start a tour, among breathtaking views in the heart of Monte San Bartolo Regional Park, and reach other wonderful beaches, such as those of Pesaro and picturesque fishing villages, such as Casteldimezzo, Fiorenzuola di Focara and Santa Marina Alta.

Heading south, you find it Senigallia, a city of ancient origins famous for its Velvet Beach, and one of the best seaside resorts in the Marche thanks to the numerous accommodation facilities, bathing establishments and renowned restaurants.

Driving south we arrive at Ancona, located in one of the most beautiful stretches of the Adriatic coast, the Riviera del Conero, located in the homonymous regional park. This protected area features a series of bays, steep cliffs and hidden beaches. One site worth seeing is the so-called Due Sorelle beach, which takes its name from two large rocks that emerge from the water.

Further south, along the coast of Macerata, it is located Porto Recanati, also known as the “Salotto della Riviera”, a modern seaside resort that boasts 8 km of sandy beach mixed with pebbles and comfortable accommodation facilities.

Nearby is located Civitanova Marche, with a long beach, sandy in the north and rocky in the south, divided by the marina. The city offers the possibility to practice various sports, to frequent trendy places and to go shopping in the numerous points of sale in the area that carry the prestigious Made in Italy brands.


Porto Sant'Elpidio, a wonderful seaside village, today a lively seaside resort, marks the beginning of the so-called “Green Picena Riviera”: pebble and sandy beaches and clear waters, surrounded by green hills. This Riviera boasts authentic seaside villages and seaside resorts such as Porto San Giorgio, Lido of Fermo e Pedaso to the south.


In the extreme south of the coast is the famous "Riviera of the Palms", Between Cupra Marittima, Grottamare e San Benedetto del Tronto. Famous for its large beaches, its approximately 7000 green palm trees and the ancient medieval villages, veritable balconies overlooking the sea, the Riviera delle Palme is a perfect destination for families.

Along the coast you can practice different sports: windsurfing, water skiing, sailing, scuba diving, kitesurfing, swimming and beach volleyball. The sea, with its abundant fish wildlife, is the ideal place for scuba diving.

What to see in the Marche: best destinations

Ancona

Capital of the Marche, Ancona it is located on the promontory of Monte Conero and overlooks the sea. Founded by the Greeks, the city experienced a real leap in its development from the moment in which the emperor Trajan (late XNUMXst century AD) enlarged the small port, which had always been of great strategic importance for maritime trade in the Mediterranean Sea.

Ancona's reputation is mainly due to its status as a art City, with a historic center rich in historical and architectural beauties, as well as artistic and cultural excellence.


While strolling around the city, don't get lost Piazza del Plebiscito, center of Ancona's social life, with its palaces, restaurants and pubs open until late at night.

Other important places are:

  • the Mole Vanvitelliana, built by the famous architect Luigi Vanvitelli during the XNUMXth century
  • Church of Santa Maria della Piazza, built between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries in Romanesque style
  • the “Francesco Podesti” Civic Art Gallery, built in 1884
  • the Arch of Trajan
  • the remains of the Roman Amphitheater (XNUMXst century AD) with magnificent frescoes
  • the magnificent Cathedral of San Ciriaco.

Thanks to the particular elbow shape of its coast, Ancona is one of the few places where you can see both sunrise and sunset over the sea.


Finally, it should be noted that a large part of the territory of Ancona is included in the Conero Regional Park, a natural area characterized by large Mediterranean scrub forests, spectacular rocks overlooking the sea and dream beaches.

Discover all the available accommodations in Ancona

Pesaro 

Urbino and Pesaro are the two fascinating cities that are part of the "Riviera of the hills“, The vast hilly area of ​​central Italy that extends from the foot of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea.

Pesaro is an unmissable destination for all-round tourism lovers and deserves an in-depth visit, which can begin in Piazza del Popolo. Of particular interest are the Civic Museums, with the Pinacoteca and the Museum of Ceramics, the Rocca Constanza, an example of a XNUMXth century fortress and the Ducal Palace.

The city has ancient cultural traditions, a important historical and artistic heritage such as the Civic Museums, the Rossini House, the Oliverian Library, the mosaics of the Cathedral, theaters, churches and noble villas, but also very modern structures and proposals such as the Pescheria Visual Arts Center, the Library of San Giovanni and modern sculptures that you can meet while walking around the city.

Pesaro is known above all for its internationally renowned events such as the Rossini Opera Festival, the festival that annually brings together internationally renowned artists andInternational New Film Exhibition, at the end of June.

Find accommodation in Pesaro

Urbino

Urbino, Marche - Photo from Istock

Surrounded by a long wall and adorned with sandstone buildings, the city of Urbino offers an immense historical and artistic wealth. “Cradle of the Renaissance”, In the sixteenth century, the city became a privileged place for the high society of the area.

The historic center of Urbino has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The city is built on the top of a hill, around the Ducal Palace, one of the masterpieces of Italian Renaissance architecture that Duke Federico da Montefeltro had built.

Inside the building is the National Gallery of the Marche, the most important museum in the region with some masterpieces of art history, such as the works of Piero della Francesca and the famous artist Raphael, who was born here.

Also not to be missed the former Monastery of Santa Chiara, the Church of San Domenico, the Palazzo Boghi and the Mausoleum of the Dukes in the Church of San Bernardino.

Find accommodation in Urbino

gradara

Gradara, Marche -

Much smaller than Urbino, Gradara is one medieval town in the province of Pesaro and Urbino. Known above all for its beautiful Rocca, Gradara is among the most beautiful villages in Italy and was decorated with the Orange Flag of the Italian Touring Club.

The history of Gradara is closely linked to the vicissitudes of its castle, subject over the centuries to the dominion of the Malatesta, Sforza and Della Rovere families and to the love story of Paolo and Francesca, immortalized by the verses of Dante Alighieri in Canto V of Hell.

Its castle stands on a hill 142 meters above sea level and is one of the best preserved medieval structures in Italy, protected by two walls. A stone's throw from the imposing Rocca you can visit the Municipal Theatre, located inside the Rubini Vesin Palace.

Around the castle it is possible to walk the Path of lovers that surrounds the hill, from where you can admire the beautiful landscape where cultivated fields and woods are mixed.

Find accommodation in Gradara

Corinth

Corinaldo is one among the most beautiful villages in Italy which stands on the top of a hill on the left bank of the Nevola river. The main attraction of Corinaldo are undoubtedly his mighty walls: about a kilometer of fortifications dating back to 1367, considered among the best preserved in the Marche.

Il historical center of the city, with its typically medieval character, it is very suggestive, a succession of narrow streets and brick houses. The most characteristic glimpse is the Piaggia, one of the most beautiful stairways in Italy, which climbs directly up to Piazza del Terra, at the top of the hill.

Among the most valuable buildings of religious architecture the Baroque church of the Madonna Addolorata, the Sanctuary of Santa Maria Goretti, the church of the Suffragio and the seventeenth-century church of San Francesco stand out.

Among civil architecture buildings to visit there is the Palazzo Comunale and the Carlo Goldoni Theater of the nineteenth century, the Civic Art Collection "Claudio Ridolfi" and the Hall of costumes and popular traditions.

Find accommodation in Corinaldo

Frasassi Caves

Frasassi Caves, Marche -

Discovered at the end of 1971, the Frasassi Caves are wonderful underground karst caves and represent one of the largest known cave systems in Europe. Inside they host an impressive number of stalactites and stalagmites.

They are part of the Natural Park of the Red Gorge and Frasassi, and are visited every year by thousands of visitors from all over the world. The caves can be partially visited, with different routes divided according to the difficulty.

At the entrance to the Frasassi Caves you enter the monumental Abyss Ancona, a natural cavity probably among the largest in the world. 180 meters long, 120 meters wide and even 200 meters high, decorated with stalagmites and stalactites that form incredible natural sculptures. It is so large that the Duomo of Milan could easily be contained within it.

Find out how to visit the Frasassi Caves

Ascoli Piceno

Ascoli Piceno, Marche -

Ascoli Piceno is a city of art and culture. There are two focal points of ancient and modern Ascoli, Piazza del Popolo, site of the ancient forum, e Arringo Square which, with the Cathedral and the Bishop's Palace, represented the political heart of the city.

Piazza Arringo is also called "square of museums”Thanks to the numerous museums that are present in it: the Civic Art Gallery which contains numerous works of art, the Diocesan Museum and the State Archaeological Museum.

Its medieval historic center still retains fifty of the two hundred towers it originally had, in addition to the Romanesque and Gothic churches such as the church of S. Tommaso, that of S. Maria Intervineas and the Baptistery.

The city hosts several theaters built in the nineteenth century such as the Philharmonic, the Ventidio Basso, the S. Francesco di Paola auditorium. In addition, Ascoli Piceno is a perfect base for visiting the Sibillini National Park, Gran Sasso-Laga National Park and top of the Sibyl.

Find and book accommodation in Ascoli Piceno

What to do in the Marche

Relax on the beaches of the Marche

The Marche is a coastal region, with its eastern border along the Adriatic Sea, so there is no shortage of beaches for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing.

The other main attraction in terms of the Marche beaches is the Riviera del Conero, south of Ancona, with some absolutely breathtaking coasts. Many of the beaches are accessible on foot or can be reached by car. An exception is the beautiful Due Sorelle beach, accessible only by boat from Numana.

Le Marche offers 180 km of coastline with beautiful beaches of fine sand and tourist cities on the Adriatic Sea. As a summer resort, the following stand out:

  • Gabicce Mare, an extension of the Rimini Riviera, in Emilia Romagna;
  • Fano, with interesting remains of the ancient Roman colonization;
  • Senigallia, an important tourist center that offers over thirteen kilometers of beaches;
  • San Benedetto de Tronto, known for its fishing port and fine sandy beaches;
  • the aforementioned Pesaro,
  • and the capital, Ancona, with its paradisiacal beaches of Portonovo and Sirolo.

Visit its natural parks

The Marche has two national parks, i Monti Sibillini and Gran Sasso, four regional parks and numerous reserves and protected areas.

Just south of the capital is the Conero Regional Park, where the mountains overlook the sea with impressive cliffs.

The most famous mountains in the region are the Sibillini, where Mount Carrier is the highest, at 2.476 meters high. In Sibillini Mountains National Park, with 70.000 hectares, it is possible to practice mountain sports as well as observe nature and its curious reserve of exotic birds.

Take part in the Autumn Truffle Festival in Acqualagna

The Alba truffle festival in Piedmont in northern Italy it might be more famous, but the Marche Autumn Truffle Festival in Acqualagna has the same renowned white truffles and is certainly less crowded than the first and easier to explore. There are several outdoor stands with various suppliers of truffle products and whole white truffles for sale.

Play various sports

The mountains of the region offer numerous hiking, biking or horseback riding routes as well numerous trails for walks that allow you to discover and observe an environment of great natural beauty.

There are also many areas equipped forsport climbing and caving and in winter it is possible skiing on the Sibillini mountains. In its rivers and streams it is possible to practice canoeing and sport fishing, among other sports.

Any water sport it can be practiced on the coasts, such as windsurfing, surfing, swimming and diving. In addition, the region has several golf courses and spas.

Visit its sunflower fields

Not everyone knows that sunflower fields abound in the Marches, and any trip to the region at the right time of the year will inevitably pass through delightful yellow expanses.

Sunflowers typically bloom early summer, depending on the weather conditions of that year. If you love flowers, or sunflowers in particular, you can see beautiful fields all over the Marche.

Visit the canyon of the Lame Rosse

The Marche is home to a very impressive canyon. Called Lame Rosse they are gorges of incomparable beauty that the force of the water, the wind and the snow has carved out over the centuries. You can visit them with an easy excursion starting from Lago di Fiastra and rises gently for about 1h30. In summer, you can swim in the emerald green waters of the artificial lake.

Visit the historic center of Cupra Alta

Many villages along the Adriatic coast have two faces: the low seaside town and the historic village, perched on the hills, which overlooks the sea. Not to be missed the village of Cupra Alta, which turns out to be much nicer as long as you climb its steep alleys. Sea view and absolute peace guaranteed.

Explore the Marmitte dei Giganti Canyon

The Gola del Furlo is a spectacle of nature that offers breathtaking high heights and deep canyons. One of these is the Marmitte dei Giganti canyon

Is one spectacular river canyon located near Fossombrone, in the locality of San Lazzaro, characterized by high rocky walls, modeled by the millenary action of the Metauro river which has created an undulating gorge and a unique and wonderful landscape.

There are numerous trails leading from the beautiful Diocletian Bridge to the river, while others skirt the canyon and climb the mountain.

Walk to the Valadier temple

Valadier Temple -

It is a temple that stands at the entrance to a high mountain cave, near Genga and the Frasassi Caves. The cave served for hundreds of years as a refuge for the local population. In 1828 Pope Leo XII, a native of Genga, had the temple built right here, based on a project by the architect Giuseppe Valadier.

Next to the temple there is also an ancient herme dug out of the rocks: Santa Maria infra Saxa.

Visit the Sferisterio of Macerata

Macerata is home to a beautiful 19th-century semi-spherical open-air theater. This is the Sferisterio, one beautiful neoclassical arena surrounded by columns, a unique theatrical structure of its architectural genre. The place is highly regarded for its special acoustics.

Enter the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto 

Loreto is a small town in the Marche region, about 30 km from the capital Ancona. The Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto is one of the most visited Catholic Marian shrines in the world, a pilgrimage site that welcomes millions of people every year.

Take part in one of the traditional festivals of the Marche

There are many traditional festivals in the Marche. The best known is the Quintana of Ascoli Piceno, a historical reenactment of medieval origin with equestrian joust, and one of the best medieval festivals in Italy.

The Cavalcade of the Assumption in Fermo, on Palio of the Goose in Cagli or the Carnival of Fano, the oldest in Italy, and the National Epiphany Day, in Urbania are other events with great tradition in the Marche.

Discover the Osimo Caves

Under the hill town of Osimo lies a mysterious system of passages and chambers that connect the most important buildings of the city in a mystical labyrinth. The Caves, as they are called, were known to be used by the Templars for initiation into the order and for secret meetings.

The complex comprises 88 rooms in all, with nearly nine kilometers of corridors, many of them delineated by niches. There were water wells and carefully crafted inscriptions.

Other caves to explore are those of Camerano which over time have hosted Catholic massespagan ritesMasonic rituals but they also gave refuge to the population during the bombings of the 2nd World War.

Gradara, Marche - Photo from Istock
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