Le Marche is quickly becoming one of our favourite regions in Italy, and after spending a wonderful three days there last year – we thought we’d take you through our ideal way of spending the week in Le Marche.
The best starting point is the central, hilly area stretching from North to South, halfway from the coastline to the East and the Apennine chain to the West – you’ll have an ideal base to explore everything this region has to offer (and, of course, we have plenty of villas ready and waiting).
We begin our tour in the Northern province of the region, easily reachable from Le Marche’s International Airport in Falconara. For the first day we suggest you visit the art town of Pesaro, which boasts several places of interest: Piazza del Popolo, the birthplace of the world-famous composer Gioacchino Rossini, the imposing Rocca Costanza and Palazzo Mosca, home of the Musei Civici.
Arguably Italy’s most bike-friendly town, live like a local and rent a bike and go on a tour along Viale Trieste. During the summer, it’s the beating heart of Pesaro – you’ll find beaches and the numerous bars, cafés and restaurants along the sandy coastline. However, if you are looking for a quieter and more romantic place, just head towards the Northern part of the town and discover the beautiful Natural Park Monte San Bartolo and its picturesque villages overlooking the blue Adriatic Sea… at the end of it you will reach the summer resort of Gabicce and the famous village of Gradara.
It is time to discover more of the inland part of the province with a day trip to Urbino, one of the region’s natural gems and the medieval village of Mondavio. “The Cradle of the Renaissance”, also known as “The Ideal City”, is an absolute must-see.
Since 1998 the small hilltop town of Urbino, one of Europe’s greatest centres of culture during the Renaissance, has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Walking through its narrow streets and alleys will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time, and you’ll be able to enjoy the breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside from Parco della Resistenza. The imposing Ducal Palace is now home of an internationally-renowned art gallery, and you can also visit Raphael’s birthplace and the Oratorio di San Giovanni. Spend the afternoon at the majestic Furlo Gorge, an incredible place for all nature and trekking lovers – from the top of Mount Pietralata you can admire the entire valley to the coastline.
At the end of your day trip we suggest you a visit of the hilltop village of Mondavio with its incredibly well-preserved historic centre and the imposing Rocca and town walls.
Leave the province of Pesaro-Urbino and head towards Ancona, the region’s capital. The city “where the sun rises and sets on the sea” is famous for its port but also boasts several places of interest like the Mole Vanvitelliana, the Trajan Arch dating back to the 1st century and the Cathedral of San Ciriaco. After the tour of the city centre take a break and relax in one of the beaches – the most distinctive one is Spiaggia del Passetto, a beautiful spot with the traditional fishermen’s caves and their colourful wooden doors. However, for nature lovers looking for some wild beaches we suggest the stunning white-sand beaches of the Natural Park Monte Conero, just few kilometres away from Ancona. The area is perfect also for some trekking in the numerous trails amidst the lush Mediterranean forest, and exploring the picturesque seaside villages of Sirolo and Numana.
The inland part of this province is a charming, hilly area with several villages and medieval towns surrounded by cultivated fields and vineyards. Rent a car and discover the places where some of Le Marche’s best wines are produced – among these is the top-quality white wine Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. Jesi is a medieval art town, where visitors have the chance to admire Lorenzo Lotto’s paintings in the Pinacoteca Civica as well as the baroque theatre dedicated to the famous composer Pergolesi; the town also makes an ideal stop for lunch.
Heading more towards the inland part you will then notice that the hilly landscape slowly changes till the Regional Natural Park Gola della Rossa e di Frasassi – its high mountains and the gorge are truly astounding. The Frasassi Caves – Europe’s most complex and biggest cave system – are a must-see, and open to the public.
Just one hour away from Ancona is Macerata, one of the most picturesque towns of the region. Home to one of Italy’s oldest universities, Macerata is a place full of art and history that is certainly worth a visit. Among the main attractions of the town are the Palazzo Buonaccorsi, a beautifully decorated palace dating back to the 18th century that now hosts an important art gallery, and the Sferisterio, the majestic neoclassic arena where the world-famous Macerata Opera Festival takes place. Walk through the charming town centre and stop in the beautiful Piazza della Libertà and go up the Torre Civica, the ancient tower of the town, to enjoy an amazing view. Before reaching Macerata, we suggest you a stop in Recanati, the hilltop village where Italy’s most famous poet, Giacomo Leopardi, was born. Here you can visit the house where he grew up and the places that inspired his most famous verses, like the “Hill of the Infinite”.
After a hectic week exploring, Saturday is definitely a day for relaxing, so spend the day in one of the beautiful beaches of the Riviera della Palme in the Southern part of the region.
Here you will find the small seaside town of Grottammare with its picturesque historic centre and just few kilometres away the famous summer resort of San Benedetto del Tronto, the main town of the Riviera. A vibrant city centre enriched with modern art sculptures and a long, sandy coastline with famous palm trees and gardens make San Benedetto the perfect place for a relaxing summer day. However, if you are more into natural trails and mountainous landscapes we suggest you a day at Lake Fiastra in the National Park Monti Sibillini. Surrounded by the high Apennine mountains this beautiful lake is the right place for enjoying some quietness, but the area offers a great variety of activities as well, including paragliding, boat tours, an adventure park for children and adults as well as bike tours and accompanying trails.
For your last day it’s worth visiting Fermo and Ascoli Piceno, two of Le Marche’s main centres that will take you back in time with their alleys, Renaissance palaces and historic re-enactments.
Fermo is a hilltop town famous for the complex system of Roman cisterns, a hidden world beneath the city that proves the ancient origin of this centre. Founded during the Roman empire, Fermo has later become an important medieval and Renaissance town and today visitors can admire monuments and imposing palaces, the beautiful Piazza del Popolo with its Palazzo dei Priori and Piazzale Girfalco with its breath-taking panorama. In August you will also have the chance to see the famous Cavalcata dell’Assunta, Italy’s oldest historic re-enactment. Another great festival that you cannot miss is the Quintana in Ascoli Piceno with its parades, flag wavers and the historical joust… you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time!
Ascoli Piceno is the perfect location for that: this elegant town with its imposing palaces in travertine stone and the scenic Piazza del Popolo with the famous dome of Chiesa di San Francesco is one of Le Marche’s must-see.
Feeling inspired? Check out our villas in Marche >