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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.

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Sferisterio theatre in Macerata In Italy


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.


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 1st 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.


Recanati: the Infinite City Recanati is the birthplace of the greatest Italian poet of the 19th century, Giacomo Leopardi. Here, everything refers to him and his poetic inspiration: the palace where he was born that preserves his “sweaty papers”, Silvia's house, the hill of L'Infinito. The splendid views of the countryside, the elegance of the village, and the remarkable works of art that are housed there make Recanati an essential stop on any trip to the Marche region. A stone's throw from the sea of Porto Recanati and the Conero Riviera. In the village of the poet Giacomo Leopardi The “native wild village” of Leopardi (1798-1837) will enchant you with its favourable position on a very scenic hill, but also with its beautiful palaces and the beautiful walkway along the walls, on which you can stroll and enjoy the view of the sea. A visit to Leopardi's birthplace, a palace still inhabited by his descendants, is very interesting: you can see the rooms where he grew up, the elegant library with rare volumes of his “mad and desperate study”, his room overlooking the more modest home of Silvia, the young daughter of his coachman with whom he was enamoured. In the village there is the place that inspired the poet with his best-known poem, L’Infinito: it is the kitchen garden of the monastery of Santo Stefano, on top of a hill a few steps from Leopardi's house, reopened to the public in 2019 thanks to the FAI. You will also find the square from Il sabato del villaggio and the tower from Il passero solitario, of St Augustine. Leopardi is credited with the presence in Recanati of the World Poetry Centre, housed in the convent of Santo Stefano, and the Centro Studi Leopardiani created in 1937 to stimulate research and reflection on the poet's work, which is celebrated on 21 March, World Poetry Day, and in June with a festival dedicated to him. Also worth seeing in Recanati are the Cathedral of San Flaviano, the civic museum of Villa Colloredo Mels, an art gallery exhibiting four important works by Lorenzo Lotto, and the Museum of Emigration from the Marche, which documents, with stories and testimonies, the diaspora of the 700,000 who left the region in search of fortune. Another illustrious citizen of Recanati was Beniamino Gigli, one of the most acclaimed opera tenors of the 20th century. In the Persiani Theatre, inside the Sala dei Trenta, at the level of the third tier of boxes, his dressing room has been reconstructed in his memory, and the Beniamino Gigli Museum houses stage costumes. Porto Recanati As cosy is the atmosphere in Recanati, as lively and cheerful is that of Porto Recanati on the coast. During the day, wide beaches of fine gravel, mostly with facilities, offer all kinds of services: there is one close to the village and a more secluded one, the Pineta, which borders on the green. In the evening, Porto Recanati comes alive in the area around the Svevo castle (actually 15th century), which hosts concerts and evening shows in its courtyard named after Beniamino Gigli. The castle tower can be climbed to see the panorama of the coast. Its rooms house a picture gallery with an important collection of 17th-century paintings (from Luca Giordano to Rosso Fiorentino) and a nucleus of Macchiaioli painters (from Giovanni Fattori to Silvestro Lega). Also on display are archaeological finds from the excavations of the old Potentia, the Roman colony founded in 184 BC in the hamlet of Santa Maria, where the remains of a Roman domus with a mosaic floor and frescoed walls are visible. Find out more


Numana: between the blue sea and the Rosso Conero Numana is a colourful fishing village on the Conero Riviera with large, easily accessible beaches. This village is in the Marche region and in its lively historic centre there is a fascinating Antiquarium museum, which documents the very ancient origins of the Picentes settlements on this coast. Excursions by boat or canoe can be organised from the little port of Numana, while the green hills invite you to discover the hinterland along the Rosso Conero wine route with its thousand scents. What to see in Numana A stroll through Numana invites you to discover a pleasant historic centre that runs along the Costarella, a gentle flight of steps that connects the village on the slope to the beaches and the sea. At the top of the promontory, above the harbour, you will see the Arco di Torre, what remains of the bell tower of a church or watch tower destroyed in an earthquake in 1930, next to which is a bronze monument dedicated to fishermen. The belvedere is where you will want to go on summer days to enjoy the breeze that is always blowing there and the view of the coast. Not to be missed is a visit to the Antiquarium, a small museum documenting a major archaeological discovery: the trousseau of the Tomb of the Queen of Sirolo (6th century B.C.) found in Sirolo in the I Pini archaeological area. In the Sanctuary of the Crucifix, you can admire a cedar wood crucifix, a Byzantine work from the 13th century. Also of interest is the Town Hall, housed in a building dating from 1773, which was the summer residence of the bishops of Ancona. For beaches, you can choose between the two bays close to the cliff (the Spiaggiola and the Spiaggia dei Frati), or the large beach south of the harbour that extends to the hamlet of Marcelli, with bathing facilities and toilets for families. Numana’s turtle cove For several years, the municipality of Numana has been collaborating with the Riccione Cetacea Foundation to ensure the rescue, care and rehabilitation of sea turtles. A “turtle cove” has been created in Numana: once the turtles have recovered from injuries or accidents, they are placed in a fenced-off area in the sea near the harbour. Here they continue to be observed and monitored by marine biologists and volunteers to assess if and when they are finally fit to return to the sea. The moment of releasing them into the wild is always filled with emotion. The Rosso Conero wine route Numana is surrounded by vineyards which make good starting points for exploring the Rosso Conero wine route. This winds its way from Ancona to Osimo, between the towns of Numana, Sirolo, Camerano, Offagna and Castelfidardo, between the cliffs and the countryside. Here, some twenty wineries produce Rosso Conero DOC and Rosso Conero Riserva DOCG, wines made from Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes that are influenced by the presence of the sea, the limestone soil of the promontory and the micro-climate of the coast. Full-bodied and fragrant, Rosso Conero wine is ideally paired with meat dishes. Find out more:


Sirolo is a balcony town overlooking the Conero Riviera. Just set back from the coastline, its centre slopes gently towards the Adriatic Sea from which a green strip of pine forests and Mediterranean maquis separates it. The mediaeval village offers striking views, archaeological treasures and a memorable panoramic balcony, while the beaches are among the most beautiful in Le Marche. What to see in Sirolo The historical centre of Sirolo developed around the structure of an 11th-century castle, of which a defensive stronghold can still be discerned in the bell tower and the city walls. Its alleyways lead to the square of the Church of St Nicholas, from which there is a belvedere overlooking the coast. Below the cliff on which Sirolo rises, there are several beaches, accessible from the sea or by walking along paths through the Mediterranean maquis: the most famous is the beach of the two sisters, so called because of the two stacks that enclose it at one end. Equally beautiful are the beaches of San Michele and Sassi neri, partly equipped and partly free, which can be reached on foot from the Parco della Repubblica, and the Urbani beach, the largest, which can be reached from Via Bosco. In summer, the beaches are connected to the centre by shuttles. Many other coves and inlets dotted along the coastline, however, are only accessible by sea. After a day at the beach, towards evening, you can take a walk in the archaeological area The Pineson the site of a necropolis of the Picenian civilisation where the Tomb of the Queen of Sirolo with a chariot, a buggy and numerous ornamental objects. The exhibits are on display in the Antiquarium Statale in Numana, but its reconstruction can be seen in the visitor centre of the Conero park, located in the centre of Sirolo. The Conero Promontory Park The Monte Conero Regional Park protects the only rocky bastion on the Adriatic coast between Trieste and the Gargano. It was set up at the end of the 1980s thanks to the efforts of local citizens' committees and environmental associations to put a stop to speculation in an area of great natural and scenic value, a thin strip of land where many different landscapes coexist in just a few kilometres: the countryside, woods, cliffs and the sea. Today, it is possible to visit the Conero Park on foot, on horseback or by mountain bike along some 20 trails with the sea on the horizon: you can cross the promontory (8 kilometres) or follow shorter paths to discover the rock engravings (700 metres), the ring of Roman caves and the hidden quarry (2.3 kilometres), the brackish lakes of Portonuovo (2.3 kilometres) or to see the stacks of the Two Sisters Beach (5.4 kilometres) from the cliff top. The underground city of Camerano Eight kilometres from Sirolo, don't miss the Camerano caves. They are called caves, but in reality it is an underground city excavated by man, no one knows exactly when or why, formed by a complex of tunnels that occupy the underground of the city between Piazza Roma and Via San Francesco in the area known as Rupe del Sassone, traditionally called the devil's holes. A plausible hypothesis is that these are the remains of an ancient underground aqueduct later extended in the Middle Ages and also used as a place of worship, as suggested by the ornamental motifs and religious symbols found there. During the bombing of World War II in July 1944, more than 2,000 locals took refuge there for 18 days. Today they are one of the most fascinating places to visit on the Conero. Find out more

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.


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