A Region Close to our Hearts
The first in a series of travel articles on a Region of Italy that is very close to our hearts, Le Marche. As a family we have visited, lived and studied in Le Marche for different periods for more than 50 years. It is a place where we have family, friends and lasting relationships with so many of the very talented small business owners, restaurateurs and artisans. We would like to share with you all that is great about this beautiful region and hopefully give you a fantastic insight into a place that we call our home when we are in Italy.
For most of us, central Italy embodies a certain type of perfect idyll: great Italian art and architecture set against a sunny rural backdrop of olive, vine and cypress. But there is much more to the area than just the great cities of Florence and Siena, and the famous Tuscan countryside that lies between them. Travellers are heading for Le Marche, the easternmost region that makes up central Italy.
Le Marche Region, ‘the new gateway to central Italy’, is rapidly becoming the new holiday destination for travellers looking for a taste of real Italy. Few areas in Europe offer such an alluring and unspoilt rural setting together with a magnificent coastline and ancient historic towns.
Whether you want to admire Renaissance masterpieces and architecture, stroll through some of the best kept Medieval towns in Italy, hunt out the best of the catch in an Adriatic fishing port, or lounge on a beach, Le Marche has enough to keep you busy for years. And you will rarely have to jostle with hordes of other foreign tourists.
Jewel of the Renaissance
Of Le Marche’s principal towns, Urbino is perhaps the most interesting for the traveller. This jewel of the Renaissance remains little changed from the glory days when Duke Federico of Montefeltro set up his celebrated court here in the second half of the 15th Century.
The provincial capital of Ascoli Piceno lies at the southern end of Le Marche. This beguiling old town is well worth an overnight stay. Its marble paved main square is easily one of the most beautiful in Italy.
The Home of Rossini
On the edge of the Adriatic stands Pesaro, justly proud of its famous son, composer Gioacchino Rossini, born in the city in 1792. Naturally, the city is a centre of musical appreciation with concert seasons throughout the year. It is a city steeped in history, where the new and the old live in perfect harmony. This is the city we call home when we are in Italy. Visitors are tempted by its busy port, boutiques, markets as well as its majolica ceramic workshops. An elegant and beautiful city that exudes the relaxed feel of daily life in an Italian provincial capital.
Worth visiting is also Macerata and the capital of the Region: Ancona. Perhaps most alluring for the traveller are the countless Medieval hamlets dotting the beautiful collage like countryside. Not to be missed are Gradara, Jesi, Recanati, Loreto, Urbania and Fermo.
Slow Food Reins Supreme
Cooking in Le Marche is deeply rooted in peasant tradition and not surprisingly the best food is still to be had in local homes rather than in restaurants. Here home cooking rather than the professional chef rules and even the smartest trattoria will seek to produce food just like Nonna used to make. Not surprisingly, slow food reins supreme in Le Marche, with quality artisan seasonal produce sourced locally from small family owned plots of land many of which are farmed organically or bio dynamically. Some examples of exceptional produce include Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Cartoceto, lentils from the Sibilini Mountains and Prosciutto from Carpegna. Not to mention the artisan cheeses such as Casciotta di Urbino and the locally sourced seafood from coastal towns and ports along the Adriatic.
The food, of course, is accompanied with some of the best Italian whites produced in all of Italy. Le Marche’s pride is Verdicchio made from the local grape with the same name. Other notable wines are Bianchello del Metauro and Rosso Conero as well as their own expressions of Sangiovese and Montepulciano made famous by some of their neighbours.
Do join us and our team of local experts to explore this magnificent part of Italy. As Le Marche travel specialists we have a number of small group tours that visit the region and we also devise tailor-made travel itineraries for the curious traveller wanting a more curated experience.