Country landscape in Marches (Italy) at summer: field of sunflowers
27th May 2016

Italy Uncovered: Why You Need to See Le Marche

Pronounced MAR-kay, this thumb-shaped region of eastern Italy is a beautiful and surprisingly affordable alternative to Tuscany. It’s got beaches  (180km of sparkling turquoise Adriatic coastline to its east), mountains (the Apennines border its west), plus oodles of hill towns filled with medieval architecture and renaissance treasures.

Le Marche is your next great road trip waiting to happen. Fly to Ancona, rent a car and get ready to be blown away by the region’s outstanding beauty. Here are just a few of the stops you won’t want to miss…

 

Lake Fiastra

lake fiastra

 

 

The Sibillini Mountains are part of the Apennine mountain range, which runs north to south along the border of Le Marche. A spectacular drive through the mountains from Sarnano will bring you to Lake Fiastra: a shimmering expanse of aquamarine water surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It’s completely breathtaking. In summer, you can rent pedalos, swim in the crystal water and sunbathe on the edge of the lake.

 

Ascoli Piceno

ascoli collage

 

Ascoli is home to one of the most beautiful squares in all of Italy, built entirely in white Travertine marble. Visit during the evening passeggiata for an aperitivo in the square at Meletti. The fin de siècle café serves an amazing (and free!) platter of cured meats and local cheeses with drinks. Also be sure to try the town’s mouthwatering specialty of olives all’ascolana – raw olives are stuffed with veal, breaded and deep-fried.

 

Flights to Ancona
 

Loreto

loreto marche

 

Loreto is a major place of pilgrimage, second only to Lourdes in Europe. Its origins are far older, dating back to the 13th century.  According to locals, the house in Nazareth where Jesus lived was transported by angels, first to Istria, and then to here. The town is totally dominated by its great basilica, which was designed by leading architects of the day.

 

Macerata

macerata collage

 

Macerata is a beautiful walled university city best known for its annual opera festival in July. The festival takes place in a neoclassical ‘stadium’ that was originally built for sports in the early 1800s. There are a number of baroque churches, beautiful piazzas, art galleries and boutique shops to explore.

 

Tolentino

 

A town worth visiting for its precious 14th century frescoes at the magnificent church of San Nicola and its excellent, cheap wine at Il Pollenza cantina. The winery, just outside of the town, produces some fantastic young wines which you can buy for under €2 per litre. Bargain.

 

Urbino

urbino collage

 

Urbino is the most famous town in Marche and featured in any guidebook to Italy. The elegant university hill town was the birthplace of painter Raphael; you can visit his childhood home and eat in a tavern where both he and Piero Della Francesca are said to have frequented. The most famous attraction in Urbino, however, is the Ducal Palace. Crammed with some of the most incredible works of the Renaissance, it’s a Marche must-visit.

 

Pesaro

 

 

Pesaro is the second largest city in Le Marche and is reached on the Via Flamania: an ancient route that connects Rimini with Rome. There are so many excellent seafood restaurants in this pretty seaside town. Be sure to try the local fish stew (brodetto), each osteria offers their own version of the traditional recipe.

Conero Riviera

conero

 

The Conero Riviera is one of the prettiest coastlines in Italy with its dramatic white cliffs, dense forests and beautiful pebble beaches. The picturesque cove of Portonovo has a couple of fantastic restaurants with tables right on the beach – order Spaghetti alla Vongole (spaghetti with clams) and enjoy fine dining with sand between your toes. While you’re there, try to pick up a bottle of Rosso Conero wine; it’s made in this small stretch of coast and rarely found outside of Italy.

 

Heading to Le Marche soon? Tag your photos with #ryanairstories for a chance to be featured in our Instagram feed. 

Hannah Frances

Hannah Frances

Hannah Frances is a travel writer and photographer based near Urbino, Italy and is founder of travel site Palette

4 Comments

  • Neal Fletcher

    Really insightful post, I’m going to Italy later this year, my itinerary is now sorted. Thank you 🙂

    30th May 2016 at 2:17 pm
  • Carolyn Kyprios

    Thank you for your blog about Marche. We live here now and love it! Our region has so much to offer. Something for everyone plus great food and wine. Let’s hope your blog encourages more visitors to come and discover the magic of Marche for themselves!

    31st May 2016 at 9:48 pm
  • Sarah and Mark

    We have lived full time in Le Marche for the last 9 years, since renovating our 300 year old farmhouse in 2001 . We now share our home with our guests – The Hideaway near Amandola . It really is a wonderful, unspoilt place and so few tourist have yet to discover the beauty of Marche. Please do come and see for yourself – the stunning Conero National Park, just south from Ancona and the wonderful wild mussels, which can be eaten straight on the beach. Portonovo is one of the very few places they still grow wild. From here, don’t forgot to explore inland and the Sibillini National Park. Hike all day in beautiful, peaceful surroundings – a photographer and artists delight. The many hill top towns and villages are just waiting to be discovered – Amandola, Sarnano and San Ginesio, to name just a few. And then there is Ascoli Piceno, older than Rome and with one of the most beautiful piazzas in the whole of Italy, the white travertine will dazzle you. Sit in the famous Meletti Cafe and watch the world go by. If you are looking for holiday accommodation whilst coming to stay in the area, marcheownersdirect are a group of like minded holiday home owners who have been living in this wonderful region and have years and years of experience and tips of where to visit and explore. Do come and discover Marche for yourself. You certainly won’t be disappointed!

    2nd June 2016 at 6:22 am
  • Bob and Ian

    What a nice blog post giving a few of the highlights of Le Marche. We moved here 10 years ago to host our guests and friends at Casal dei Fichi near Macerata. There is a wealth of things to see and do here in an area that is not yet overrun by tourists – even in high summer. Find the undiscovered places to unwind and know that you are visiting an area that is described as ‘All of Italy in one region’. We hope you enjoy Le Marche as much as we do!

    2nd June 2016 at 4:32 pm

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