Le Marche, a plunge into the history, art and architecture of a region with the scent of the sea and redolent of traditions and hospitality
A great variety of landscapes and an infinite range of colours that make the area's natural beauty incomparable, plus an artistic heritage that fears no comparison: this is how the Marches, with an area of no more than 10,000 square kilometres, will captivate you forever.
Ancona: sentinel on the Adriatic Sea At the northern end of the Conero promontory, the city of Ancona stands on a natural harbour dominating a wide stretch of the Adriatic coast. Its historical centre, a few metres from the ferry embarkation point, holds art treasures, beautiful buildings and that liveliness that only port cities possess. To be discovered on foot, from the port to the Duomo, to the Cardeto park and the Passetto beach, where Ancona's inhabitants go to enjoy the sea, Ancona is a city that knows how to amaze. A stroll through historical sights and the sea view Upon arrival in Ancona, by car or from the station, one of the first monuments to attract attention is the pentagonal building at the entrance to the old port, the so-called Mole Vanvitelliana, named after its architect Luigi Vanvitelli, built as a lazaret for quarantine of people and goods coming from overseas, now converted to a space for cultural events. Continuing towards the maritime station, one can see the 15th-century Palazzo Benincasa and the Loggia dei Mercanti, the most important secular building in flamboyant Venetian Gothic style. Entering the historical centre, along Viale Mazzini, you can see the Renaissance Fontana del Calamo or Tredici Cannelle, with its bronze masks. Heading up towards the acropolis, after visiting the Mercato delle erbe (Herb Market), Art Nouveau structure in iron and cast iron, you will see the beautiful Church of Gesù, also by Vanvitelli, overlooking the sea. Next, the Roman Amphitheatre, rediscovered in the 19th century, and the Cathedral of St Ciriaco, Roman-Gothic basilica built on the remains of a temple dedicated to Venus and an early Christian basilica: spectacularly dominating the city and port. If you walk down towards the old harbour you can see the Arch of Trajan from the 2nd century AD and the Clementine Arch, an 18th-century work by Vanvitelli. To the south, Cardeto Park a green area on the hill of the same name where you can walk with the sea on the horizon: inside you will find the old lighthouse and the suggestive monumental Jewish cemetery, among the largest in Europe. Must-see museums in Ancona The National Archaeological Museum of Marche exhibits the largest collection of artefacts in the entire region from the Palaeolithic to the Classical period, where visiting the 16th-century Palazzo Ferretti with its rich decorations and splendid views of the port and bay of Ancona is possible. Ancona's history is reconstructed in the City Museum with documents, exhibits, models, educational panels, maps and videos. The Pinacoteca Comunale in Palazzo Bosdari exhibits masterpieces such as Titian's Gozzi Altarpiece, his first autograph work, Lorenzo Lotto's Sacred Conversation, and works by Sebastiano Del Piombo. A unique experience is offered by the Omero Tactile Museum, housed in the Mole Vanvitelliana, offering the rare opportunity to learn about art through touch, thanks to life-size plaster casts of sculptures, models of famous monuments and archaeological finds. Ancona’s beaches The best-loved and most popular beach for the people of Ancona is Passetto, a tongue of sand under the green promontory, which has the peculiarity of including more than 500 “caves” dug into the rock from the 19th century until the 1960s by locals. The reason? To store small boats and fishing gear. Each “cave” is enclosed, like a garage, with salvaged material of various kinds and colours: a picturesque ensemble. Less frequented, because access is difficult, is the Scalaccia beach at Pietralacroce. It is reached by steps, not always easy. Once there, however, the effort will be amply rewarded. Also beautiful and wild is the Mezzavalle beach, continuation of the Portonovo bay, of sand and gravel: reached by two steep paths to be tackled with suitable boots. What to eat in Ancona Among the most typical dishes of Ancona cuisine is stockfish or dried codfish cooked with potatoes, tomatoes and herbs. If you are wondering why cod – a fish from northern Europe – the answer lies in the frequency of trade contacts between Ancona and northern European countries. Here, as in many other towns in the Marche, we eat brodetto which is a typical fish soup, and the wild mosciolo of Portonovo, a type of mussel that lives on the Conero coast, recognised as a Slow Food presidium.Discover
Where culture and history meet the sea The province of Pesaro and Urbino in the Marche region is one of Italy's historical provinces. Overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Pesaro is a typical seaside town but what makes it special is not only its seven kilometres of beach on equipped and free coastline. Its historical centre guards an important artistic heritage. Not to be missed are the mosaics of the Cathedral and a tour of the places of Rossini's memory; indeed, Gioacchino Rossini was born in Pesaro in 1792. Two cultural events bring tourists and enthusiasts to the city: the Rossini Opera Festival and the Mostra Internazionale del Nuovo Cinema. Wandering around the alleys, buildings and squares of Urbino, it is easy to see why its historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start your tour at the Ducal Palace, which is more of a fortified city than a palace. Here, one of the iconic paintings of Italian art, Piero della Francesca's Ideal City, is preserved. If you are an art lover, don't miss the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche. Capital city but also small villages, Gradara and its fortress, and unspoilt nature such as that of the Sasso Simone and Simoncello Park: the province of Pesaro-Urbino holds great treasures. From Fano to Montefeltro, from Gabicce to the San Bartolo Riviera. Finally, for lovers of outdoor sports, 20 km from Urbino, the Marmitte dei Giganti offer a real show. Book a canoe tour to enjoy the beauty of the gorge from the inside. Combined with a trek inside the Furlo Gorge State Nature Reserve, the views are breathtaking.Discover
As the capital of the province of the same name in Marche, Macerata is a member of the Association of Cities of Art and Culture and boasts one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in 1290. What to visit One of the city's most representative monuments is the Arena Sferisterio designed by Ireneo Aleandri, a splendid example of neoclassical architecture that hosts the prestigious Macerata Opera Festival every summer. The 18th-century Palazzo Buonaccorsi stands in the heart of the city, now home to the ancient and modern art collections and the coach museum. Aeneid Hall is the sumptuous 18th-century gallery, a civic room in Palazzo Buonaccorsi: the paintings celebrate the exploits of Aeneas, and the vault is frescoed with the mythological Wedding of Bacchus and Ariadne before the Olympian gods. The 64-metre Civica Tower houses a reconstruction of an astronomical clock with automata similar to the one in Venice, built in 1569 by the Ranieri brothers of Reggio Emilia. An extraordinarily complex machine governs the clock’s different functions: the operation of the carillon, the strokes that mark the hours, the bird that rings the small bell by striking it with its beak, the carousel with the angel and Three Wise Men, the movement of the hand on the hour dial, the movements of the disks of the celestial bodies and the Dragon. The splendid polychrome dial not only shows the hours, but also the apparent motions of the sky, Sun and Moon and the circuits of the five planets known at the time when the Ranieri brothers completed their feat. The latter function makes this device unique among Renaissance tower clocks and can be admired at 12pm and 6pm. The 18th-century Lauro Rossi Theatre and Palazzo Ricci, which houses a collection of 20th-century Italian art, are also worth visiting in Macerata. The main religious architectural sites include the Duomo, built on the site of an earlier church in 1771-1790 according to a design by Cosimo Morelli; the nearby Basilica della Misericordia, rich in stucco and precious marble; and the Church of Santa Maria delle Vergini, a Bramante-style temple housing an 'Epiphany' by Tintoretto. The typical dish of Macerata is vincisgrassi, a sort of baked lasagna made with sheets of egg pasta, meat sauce, béchamel and cheese.Discover
Cities of art by the sea Fermo is located between the stunning peaks of the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, perched on a hill overlooking the surrounding green countryside. It is the ideal place to enjoy moments of total relaxation along the shores of Lido di Fermo and Marina Palmense. The historic centre spreads out between Corso Cefalonia and Corso Cavour, the two main roads leading to Piazza del Popolo, bordered by 16th-century brick porticoes. Among the most famous buildings is undoubtedly Palazzo dei Priori, home to the Como Art Museum and the famous World Map Room. Be sure to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Villa Vitali, home to the city’s science museums. Since 2008, the Villa’s gardens have hosted an open-air theatre and a nature walk, with plants and flowers from around the world. Near Fermo is the beautiful village of Torre di Palme, where you can enjoy a gentle walk through the nearby Cugnolo forest and Grotta degli Amanti nature preserve. Another unmissable destination is the Lago di Fiastra reservoir, where you can swim in its crystal-clear waters. From there, you can embark on an hour-long route to the Lame Rosse, a unique, reddish-coloured limestone formation. We also recommend visiting Amandola, which hosts the annual Diamanti a Tavola, the fair dedicated to the prized white truffle of the Sibillini Mountains. Near the San Ruffino Lake, don’t miss the splendid Abbey of San Ruffino with its unique underground burial chambers.Discover
Just a stone's throw from the sea and made of travertine, the Marche town shines with golden light. In this timeless place, art, architecture and food and wine are the embodiment of Italian excellence at its finest. All this is Ascoli Piceno, a medieval city of a thousand surprises that is bound to win everyone over.Discover
What to see in Marche
An enchanting region of beaches, caves and mountains
Le Marche, a plunge into the history, art and architecture of a region with the scent of the sea and redolent of traditions and hospitality. A great variety of landscapes and an infinite range of colours that make the area's natural beauty incomparable, plus an artistic heritage that fears no comparison: this is how the Marches, with an area of no more than 10,000 square kilometres, will captivate you forever.