An Introduction to Marche, Italy
Le Marche is a Central Italian region bordered by the sparkling Adriatic Sea on the east and the Republic of San Marino to the north.
This region has it all: endless green hills, charming Medieval villages, and Renaissance towns, miles of gorgeous beaches, and the mountain peaks of the Apennines.
So whether you prefer a cultural vacation or an outdoorsy one, in Le Marche you will find plenty of things to do and spots to fall in love with!
Things to See & Do in Marche
Urbino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Renaissance artworks and it is one of the most beautiful towns in the region. Don’t miss the Palazzo Ducale, Le Marche National Gallery, and the house where the famous painter Raphael was born and raised!
Recanati is another perfect town to discover for an immersive cultural experience. This town was the birthplace of Giacomo Leopardi, one of Italy’s greatest poets. Every corner of Recanti remembers its famous citizen, from Palazzo Leopardi, the home of Leopardi’s family, to the lookout point of the Colle dell’Infinito.
Loreto is an unmissable town in Le Marche! One of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in Italy and the world, the must-see spot is The Holy House, where the Archangel Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary.
A city built almost entirely of travertine, a white limestone typical of the area, Ascoli Piceno has fantastic Renaissance squares to visit and stop in for a traditional aperitivo.
Elected Italy’s Most Beautiful Village in 2018, Gradara is a lovely Medieval town where you can visit a castle, an underground cave and tunnel systems, and a falconry center.
Last but not least is the capital city of the region, Ancona. Located on the Conero Riviera, Ancona has many things to see, like the Cathedral of Saint Ciriaco, the ruins of a Roman amphitheater, and the unique Museo Omero, the only tactile museum in Europe!
The Conero Riviera is also among the best places in the region for a beach vacation. Here you will find more than 20 kilometers of coastline with crystal-clear waters and Mount Conero in the background. Along the Conero Riviera, the beaches are pebbly, so if you prefer to relax on soft sand, you need to go more north, like in the towns of Senigallia and Fano, or more south, as in San Benedetto del Tronto or Grottammare.
Le Marche is also famous for its hills and mountains. The Sibillini Mountains National Park is perfect for an adventurous holiday. Here you will find the red canyons of the Lame Rosse and the lovely Fiastra Lake. Besides hiking and horseback riding opportunities, the Sibillini Mountains make for a perfect winter destination!
Another fantastic place to enjoy unspoiled nature is the Furlo Gorge Nature Reserve, where you can walk splendid mountain paths and explore the breathtaking Frasassi Caves.
Secret Gems of Marche
A secret gem in the region is the magical Valadier Temple.
The temple is an octagonal shrine built in neoclassical style by Pope Leo XII following the design of the architect Giuseppe Valadier. What’s so special about the temple is that it is nestled between the rocky walls of the mountain, and it unfolds to the visitor’s eyes only after a short (but intense) hike. The temple’s white travertine it appears almost candid in the dark-ish cave, and inside the temple, you will find the statue of the Virgin and Child in white Carrara marble made by the one and only Antonio Canova.
Food & Drink of Marche
Le Marche cuisine is as varied as its territory.
Along the coast, you will find many seafood dishes. Make sure to try Moscioli, wild mussels exclusively found in a specific area of the Conero. There are several ways to taste this delicacy, one of the best being with a rich tomato sauce and spaghetti.
Another typical pasta is Maccheroncini di Campofilone, a fresh egg-pasta, usually eaten with Ragù Marchigiano, a tomato sauce with minced beef, pork, and chicken, and finished off with pecorino cheese.
Vincisgrassi is another traditional pasta dish, from the town of Recanati, which is the regional version of lasagne.
The region is also famous for the many appetizers that also make for fantastic finger foods!
The cured meat called Ciauscolo, the Crescia di Urbino, a tortilla-like flat bread eaten with sautéed seasonal veggies and local cheese, and Cremini, an aniseed-flavored custard coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried, are among the must-tries! Another unmissable appetizer? The Olive all’Ascolana, whole green olives filled with meat and then fried.
Truffles from Acqualagna are another food you should absolutely eat while in Le Marche!