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The Marche

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Discovering the Marche is a multi-sensorial exploration that brings into play all five of the senses, thanks to the delights to be found in the five provinces  of the Marche, each very distinct from the other, and yet also quite similar, with every burgh, every hidden corner of the Marches offering visitors unfailingly new and surprising emotions.

The sense of sight is swept away by a wide variety of intriguing landscapes a number of different coastal settings; the expanse of hills with its unmistakable profile and masterful mix of natural colours and the works of man, in the form of the centuries-old villages, the sanctuaries, the castles and the abbeys; the Apennine mountains, with their forests, valleys and peaks, all still echoing with the legend of the Sybil, are waiting to be discovered. Visitors lingering in the towns and hamlets can discover the large number of museums and churches preserved like so many gems, as well as a wealth of works by artists such as Crivelli, Piero della Francesca, Raphael, Bellini, Titian and Lotto, just to mention the most famous, though the works of lesser known artists, as well as examples of folk art, combine with the masterpieces to tell the story of a territory whose past is filled with proud towns and prestigious lordships.

The sense of touch is stimulated by the vast array of top-quality crafts products, including paper and parchment, handmade lace and traditionally manufactured pottery and tiles.

The sense of hearing can delight in the immortal music of our composers Rossini, Pergolesi and Spontini, played during the “ROF, Rossini Opera Festival” and the “Pergolesi Spontini” Festival and during the numerous local opera seasons held in theatres and other sites of the Region, with the best known example being the season at the Sphaeristerium Stadium in Macerata. Also to be enjoyed is the sound of the verses of the verses of Leopardi, a beacon from the past for all the modern and contemporary poets of the Marche.

The sense of smell is stimulated by endless scents, each of which calls forth sensations of pleasure, wellbeing and joyful living. The Marche is a land of aromas: the sea breeze, the odour of freshly caught fish, the vast fields of lavender and juniper in Conero, the bouquets of wines that tell the history of the hills and the wide selection of grapes in their vineyards, the intense aroma of the truffles of Acqualagna and the mountain zones, the delicate scents of the salamis and other cured meats of Carpegna, Fabriano and Visso, plus the traditional local cheeses.

The sense of taste is coddled by a treasure trove of traditional products and wines. The culinary offerings of the Marche include traditional peasant fare and seafood, often reinterpreted for modern  tastes, but without losing sight of the genuine, natural values we treasure, as well as the emphasis on quality. In fact, the tastes and pleasures of fine dining extend beyond special occasions, filling the entire lifestyle of the Marche with a delicious but uncomplicated gusto that revolves around a respect for tradition.

What the five senses take in during a visit to the Marche leaves behind a wellbeing both physical and emotional, with a stay in the region proving the perfect way to refresh both body and soul.


Living by the Sea - Hill Towns between Nature and Culture
From Gabicce Mare to San Benedetto del Tronto the coastal landscape of the Marche is ever-changing in shape and colour. The white cliffs plunging down to the sea, the deep green of the rolling hills on which ancient  villages rise and the ochre-coloured beaches are amazing. The urban landscape of the numerous little towns on the sea varies just as the  scenery does. 

Where the terrain allows it, the settlements are laid out in different ways, often with a double function, both defensive and commercial. The historical borough of Mondolfo, with its extension on the coast of Marotta, is a typical example of “two cities in one”, representing the blending of two cultures, from land and sea. A different model, from sea to town,  can be seen in Montemarciano, founded by the coastal inhabitants following a fire in the fifth century. It is therefore often possible to distinguish among the coastal boroughs the “upper village”, well-protected  by the walls of a castle perched high on a hill, which was the original settlement  and the “marina”, the flat land along the shore which was usually developed at a later date for commercial and residential purposes. This kind of composite pattern is typical of the medieval “castra” of Gabicce Monte (the ancient “Castellum Ligabitii”), Casteldimezzo and Fiorenzuola di Focara in the province of Pesaro and Urbino, like those of Falconara Alta north of Ancona and south of Sirolo and Numana. Recanati, Potenza Picena and Sant’Elpidio a Mare on the other hand are important little towns, a fair distance from the sea, with “marine” which grew from simple  mooring facilities along the coast into ports: Porto Recanati, Porto Potenza Picena and Porto Sant’Elpidio.

Civitanova Alta  is a fascinating fortified borough overlooking the sea, while nearby Porto San Giorgio, the ancient “Navale Firmanorum”, is divided into two parts with the Castle and its surrounding district above and the “marina” below, beyond the main road. Nearby is the splendid castle of Torre di Palme, perched on a cliff with a sheer drop to the sea. Other Picentes centres follow: Cupra  Marittima and Marano, Grottammare and Grottammare Alta and San Benedetto del Tronto with its panoramic terrace dominated by the Torre dei Gualtieri. As a defence against such terrible enemies as pirates, corsairs, Turks and Saracens, about 60 watchtowers were built along the coast of the Marche in the eighteenth century. They were placed at intervals of 3 km and used smoke signals during the day and fires at night to raise the alarm. Of  this complex system of communication there remain the beautiful Torre di Montignano, south of Senigallia, the Torre di Portonovo, in the bay of the same name south of Ancona and the so-called Torre Guelfa at the mouth of the Tronto at Porto d’Ascoli. The Torre di Sant’Andrea at Cupra Marittima, the Torre del Castello at Grottammare and the Torre dei Gualtieri at San Benedetto del Tronto were also part of the whole system
Living in Nature - Parks and protected Areas, between Nature and Culture

Parks and Protected Areas, between Nature and Culture

In the Marche there are  12 protected areas: 2 national parks (Monti Sibillini and Gran Sasso  plus Monti della Laga), 4 regional parks (Monte Conero, Sasso Simone e Simoncello, Monte San Bartolo and Gola della Rossa plus Frasassi), 6 nature reserves (Abbadia di Fiastra, Montagna di Torricchio, Ripa Bianca, Sentina,  Gola del Furlo and Monte San Vicino plus Monte Canfaito), more  than 100 protected plant and flower areas and  15 state forests.

Protected Areas
In the Marche more than 90,000 hectares of the territory, almost 10% of the region, are protected as parks and nature reserves, 15 state forests and more than 100 protected plant and flower areas.

Among the National Parks, that of the Monti Sibillini (50,000 hectares has high mountains which are mostly over 2,000 m and reach 2,476 m with  Monte Vettore, and the legendary Monte Sibilla (2,173 m) not far away. To the  south  the  Monti Sibillini meet the National Park of the  Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga (, which is characterized by  marly sandstone rocks, dense woodlands and wonderful waterfalls like the Volpara and the Selvagrande. The Regional Park of Sasso Simone and  Simoncello (, in the heart of  Montefeltro, has beautiful  walking country with incredibly tall  beech trees, real living “patriarchs” of nature,  while in the Nature Reserve of Gola del Furlo (, the rocky walls seem almost alpine and the rocky landscape is quite spectacular. In the Park of  Monte San Bartolo (, between Gabicce Mare and Pesaro, the cliffs create a wild landscape. In the province of Ancona, the Regional Park of Monte Conero ( has some enchanting spots with beautiful walking routes winding through the magical Mediterranean maquis.
In the Gola della Rossa plus Frasassi Regional Park ( the river Sentino has carved its course creating a complex system of underground caves known as the Grotte di Frasassi. Here you can marvel at the little lakes, carved stalactites and gigantic stalagmites crowned by the majestic Abisso Ancona which is over 240 metres high. Near Jesi, on the River Esino, is the  Nature Reserve of  Ripa Bianca ( with a typical fluvial landscape, which is home to the biggest flock of herons in the Marche.
In the province of  Macerata, the Nature Reserve of Abbadia di Fiastra ( preserves an agrarian landscape which  over the years has not lost its typically mediaeval landmarks, including  historical Selva and the monumental abbey built by Cistercian monks in  1142, taking the ancient stones from the Roman city of  Urbs Salvia.
The Nature Reserve of Torricchio ( preserves a typical landscape of the upper hills of the Marche and was designated a      Biogenetic Reserve by the Council of Europe. Recently reserves  have been created including the Sentina Nature Reserve (  in San Benedetto del Tronto, north of the mouth of the River Tronto, an interesting wetlands area of great importance from a biological point of view and for birdlife. There is also the Monte San Vicino plus Monte Canfaito Nature Reserve which covers 1,500 hectares of land with protected plant and flower areas and biotypes of geological and landscape interest.

Discover the Marche and its Museums with the ‘Marche Museum Card’

The dissemination of fine arts is so widespread that the Marche truly deserves the definition of   "open-air museum": 500 squares, more than 1,000 significant monuments, more than 100 art cities, 33 strongholds, 106 castles, 15 fortresses, 170 towers, numerous historical homes with gardens, many of which provide  accommodation, thousands of churches of which 200 are Romanesque, 90 well-preserved abbeys, 183 sanctuaries, 34 archaeological sites, over 70 picturesque historical theatres. There is the highest density in Italy of museums, art galleries and museum collections, about  400 out of 239 municipalities and an impressive 315 libraries, including the ancient Hermitage of Fonte Avellana (Province PU), the Oliveriana in Pesaro, or the one in Palazzo Leopardi in Recanati (Province MC), not to mention the National Gallery of the Marche in Urbino, a UNESCO Heritage City.

The Marche Museum Card allows you to visit museums and archaeological sites, providing free access to each without restriction during opening hours. The Marche Museum Card also provides discounts and special offers for events and exhibitions and other benefits in the area of tourism and culture. The updated list of stipulated agreements and their characteristics can be consulted in the "Strutture Convenzionate”,  Agreed Facilities section, or by calling the freephone number 800 439392 (Italy only).

Quality Brands - "Blue Flag" - “Orange Flag” - “The most beautiful villages of ItaIy”
A “Blue Flag” means  not only that the sea is clean  in that area, but also  that many other criteria have been met. These criteria include  the presence of water treatment plants, the recycling of  urban waste, the organisation of environmental initiatives such as limited traffic in urban areas, extensive pedestrian areas, cycling lanes, courses on environmental education for young people and care of the urban environment. In  2011 a total of 16 “Blue Flags” were assigned to the region of the Marche: Gabicce Mare, Pesaro, Fano, Mondolfo (loc. Marotta), Senigallia, Ancona (loc. Portonovo), Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati, Potenza Picena (loc. Porto), Civitanova Marche, Porto Sant’Elpidio, Porto San Giorgio, Cupra Marittima, Grottammare and San Benedetto del Tronto. Among the tourist ports mentioned are the Marina dei Cesari in Fano, the tourist port of Numana, the marina  of Porto San Giorgio, Tiziano, the tourist port of San Benedetto del Tronto and Marina Dorica of Ancona.

The “Orange Flag” is a quality award for tourism and the environment conferred by the Italian Touring Club. It is awarded  to small municipalities inland which offer outstanding services and hospitality. The towns with this award have fulfilled strict criteria for the evaluation of  the protection of both the cultural and environmental heritage, hospitality, access to information, the availability and  efficiency of public  transport,  accommodation, catering and  the support of local operators, wine and  food quality, cultural entertainment and  street furniture.  17 “Orange Flags”  fly in the region of the  Marche: Acquaviva Picena, Camerino, Corinaldo, Gradara, Mondavio, Montecassiano, Montelupone, Monterubbiano, Ostra, Ripatransone, San Ginesio, Staffolo, Urbisaglia, Genga, Mercatello sul Metauro, Pievebovigliana and Sarnano.

To be part of the club of “The most beautiful villages of ItaIy” there are several structural requirements, such as the architectural harmony of the urban area, the quality of both  private and public buildings and general standards with regard to the quality of life in the town in terms of activities and public services. In the Marche 18 villages have been  admitted to this club: Cingoli, Corinaldo (European Destination of Excellence in 2008 and officially nominated “The most beautiful village of Italy” in 2007), Esanatoglia, Gradara, Grottammare, Matelica, Montecassiano, Montecosaro, Montefabbri, Montefiore dell’Aso, Mon-telupone, Moresco, Offagna, Offida, San Ginesio, Sarnano, Treia and Visso.

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