Macerata is composed of a natural scenery with a thousand facets: mountains, hills, valleys, woods and cultivated fields running all the way to the shores of the Adriatic.
Macerata is set on a hill at 1,030 ft above sea level, between the Potenza and Chienti Valleys. It is surrounded by a spectacular mosaic of cultivated fields, maintained as if they were gardens or parks.
The Province of Macerata extends for 1,724 from the Adriatic Sea in the east to the Provinces of Ancona in the north, Perugia to the west, and Ascoli Piceno in the south.
Also in Macerata are Recanati, birthplace of Giacomo Leopardi; Camerino, with its prestigious university; Tolentino, decidedly picturesqe and a regular tourist attraction; and the beaches of Civitanova Marche.
Culture has been the centerpiece of Macerata Province since the era of Father Matteo Ricci, who left Italy at 26 years old to travel to the Far East to open passage to China.
It only takes a walk along Corso Matteotti - Macerata's main thoroughfare, near Piazza della Libertà, with the Palazzo dei Priori and its statues and plaques - to discover Macerata’s 16th-Century architecture. Here stand the Renaissance-style Prefecture's Palace, St. Paul’s Church and the Teatro Rossi, built in the 18th Century. Other must-see features are the unique Sferisterio (a large court for handball games built around 1820), the 15th-Century Duomo, the Loggia dei Mercanti, Palazzo Compagnoni Marefoschi, Palazzo Buonaccorsi, Palazzo Ricci (home to the Contemporary Art Gallery), the Basilica of the Madonna della Misericordia and the Torre dell'Orologio (Clock Tower), with its stunning view.
A tour of the Province might begin in Montecassiano, with its Palazzo Comunale and the Church of the Assunta; then, after few miles, visitors will find the Romanesque Church of San Claudio al Chienti. Continue on to Morrovalle and the International Nativity Museum, with almost 500 scenes from all over the world.
Not be missed are Urbisaglia and its Archeological Park, the Medieval village and the Abbey of Chiaravalle di Fiastra, a peaceful oasis within a nature reserve.
Art and well-being come together in Sarnano, where the many monuments of the historic center are the backdrop for a relaxing stay at San Giacomo Terme (or thermal baths). And in Tolentino lies the Church of San Nicola, world-famous for its magnificent Cappellone, decorated with 14th-Century frescoes by Giotto and the Rimini school.
Potenza Picena is the location for the Villa Giardino Buonaccorsi, the only example of an 18th-Century Italian garden still in perfect condition. After, Civitanova Marche and Porto Recanati are worth a visit for those who love the sea.
The ancient village of Recanati deserves mention as the birthplace of Giacomo Leopardi and of 20th-Century tenor Beniamino Gigli. Recanati houses many 15th and 16th-Century monuments, while the Pinacoteca Comunale displays an invaluable collection of paintings by Lorenzo Lotto. Additionally, the traveler should not miss a tour of the places that inspired Giacomo Leopardi’s poems.
In the area surrounding Macerata is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta di Rambona, with its beautiful frescoes (the Church was established by Queen Ageltrude in the 8th Century).
Also known as "the balcony of the Marches," thanks to its spectacular views of the Conero and Sibillini Mountains, Cìngoli is a peaceful town with many Medieval churches.
Numerous trails for trekking, horseback riding and mountain biking wind through the Sibilline Mountains. The winds here enable the practice of paragliding and hang gliding, taught at the school above the San Liberato Monastery. Even off-slope skiing in the Azzurri Mountains is possible, a view Romantic poet Giacomo Leopardi enjoyed from his window in Recanati.
For those simply looking to relax, the area offers thermal spas in Sarnano and Tolentino.
Macerata, with its countless theatres and amazing productions, will not disappoint those keen on drama and opera. The theatrical season reaches its peak with the A. Perugini National Dramatic Art Review and the celebrated opera season held at the Sferisterio. Equally well-known is the Macerata Jazz Festival.
Speaking of music, the Recanati Music Festival is a coveted gig for young singer-songwriters.
Sarnano hosts the National Artistic Antiques Trade Fair; meanwhile, in August, historical re-enactments bring a Medieval atmosphere to its streets. Tolentino as well is the site for the re-enactment of the famous 1815 battle between the army of Gioacchino Murat and the Austrians. It also plays host to the International Biennale for Humorism in Art, with a display of the works at the International Humor Museum. Among the most unique events is the Disfida del Bracciale or the "bracelet challenge," a 19th-Century re-enactment held in Treia. The districts compete against each other, each representing a different social class: the nobles, the bourgeoisie, the farmers and the gypsies of the community that once lived nearby. Music and dance accompany the event.
Finally, the old amphitheatre in Urbisaglia is the splendid setting for works by Plautus, Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles.
It is easy to savor the charm of the ancient agricultural rituals by opting for a farm or agritourism vacation in one of many villas and country houses immersed in nature, enjoying the local cuisine.
A very rich first course is vincisgrassi, a kind of lasagne and meat sauce. The ciausculu is a lean, salame, finely minced and seasoned with garlic, pepper and parmigiana di gobbi (thistle).
A typical and tasty dish is the brodetto of Porto Recanati, a fish soup whose broth is obtained by pre-cooking cuttlefish with saffron.
Desserts include biscotti col mosto and the area’s crescia fogliata.
Among the D.O.C. wines are the Bianco dei Colli Maceratesi, the celebrated Verdicchio di Matelica, the Vernaccia di Serrapetrona and spumante.