About Marche

About Marche

A Rich Cultural Heritage


The region's medieval hilltop towns are awash with museums and art. The Marche town of Recanati was home to one of Italy's most celebrated poets, Giacomo Leopardi and Marche was also the birthplace of great masters such as Raphael and Bramante, giving lineage to its modern-day artistic vibrancy, with a number of outstanding twentieth century artists coming from the area.

Divided into four provinces, Marche's regional capital is Ancona, a port which came to prominence in the sixteenth century and is second in importance only to Venice on the Adriatic.

Other historically important places include the university towns of Urbino, Camerino and Macerata. Urbino boasts the Galleria nazionale delle Marche, probably the most important of Marche's 234 museums.

Macerata is home to the Sferisterio, which along with the Arena in Verona is one of Italy's most important outdoor opera venues, where in July and August people flock from around the globe to see performances of opera and classical music. The town also has fine examples of Renaissance, Baroque and eighteenth century architecture.

Camerino is a beautiful town in the heart of the Appenines. The historic university was extensively damaged by an earthquake in 1997 but has now been almost completely restored.

The town of Loreto is home to one of the most important shrines to the Virgin Mary in the world. Its owes its existence largely due to the thousands of pilgrims that come to see the house of the Madonna, which is said to have been transported there from Nazareth by celestial angels during the Crusades. More likely it was dismantled brick by brick and brought over by ship.

Uniquely, Ascoli Piceno, a town important since Etruscan times, has a beautiful central piazza made entirely of travertine marble, testimony to the town's rich and glorious past.

And the region is dotted with castles and fortresses, has at least eight spa towns specialised in the treatment of various ailments and is home to many different traditional crafts, notably in the town of Offida, where even today the ladies of the town can be seen making finely detailed traditional lace garments in the town's cobbled streets.

In fact many traditional crafts are still practised throughout the region and provide an important mainstay to the economy. They include production of handmade paper at Fabriano (the first of its kind in Europe), terracotta vases and pots, copper, iron and wool products, hat-making and the manufacture of musical instruments, notably violins in Ascoli Piceno.

Italy's Garden of Eden

Even today Marche remains a largely undiscovered gem in the heart of Italy, sandwiched between the stunning Apennine mountains on its western fringes and the beautiful Adriatic coast to the east.

Perhaps because Marche has historically been an isolated region, sheltered as it is from intrusion by its natural mountain borders to the north, south and west and by the Adriatic Sea, it is only slowly gaining rightful recognition.

The region gets comparatively little mention in the travel media, deferring to the wider fame of neighbouring Tuscany and Umbria. Yet it can justifiably claim to be Italy's very own Garden of Eden.

It boasts lush greenery (often a surprise to visitors) and an enchanting mixture of sunflower fields, abundant woodland, many rivers which wind their way down to a beautiful coastline, and stunning mountain scenery.

Bordering both Umbria and Tuscany, as well as Abruzzo, Lazio and Emilia-Romagna, the region has an identity all of its own.

Walkers, trekkers and nature lovers can also find their feet here, with regional and national parks offering an abundance of outdoor activities, including trekking, mountain biking, paragliding, nature trails, hunting and fishing and ski-ing.

Marche has two national parks, the Monti Sibillini National Park and the Gran Sasso Monti Della Laga National Park.
The Monti Sibillini National Park actively promotes and protects wildlife habitats and has played a key role in building a stable population of wolves and other creatures such as the golden eagle. Wild boar abound and with the help of active re-introduction programmes there are also now signs of the return of the Marsicana brown bear from its stronghold in neighbouring Abruzzo. There are even signs of the return of the secretive and shy lynx.

Rising 572m from the sea near Ancona, Monte Conero is one of Marche's best known landmarks. It is home to a regional park and is an excellent place to see birds such as the marsh harrier and long-legged buzzard, while its coastal waters offer beautiful coved beaches and are ideal for organised boat trips.

The other regional park by the sea is the Colle San Bartolo Regional Park near Gabicce, home to wetlands of national importance.

A myriad of fascinating caves form the central attraction of the inland park, Gola della Rossa Frasassi Regional Park, recognised as the most interesting limestone caves in Italy. Special tours lead you through a series of caves complete with small lakes, stalactites, huge stalagmites and onto the truly cavernous Abisso Ancona, a cave from ground to ceiling fully 240m high.

Sites & Sounds of Marche


Marche is an affluent zone with little crime and full of the warm welcome for which central and southern Italy is renowned - even the most basic attempt to speak Italian will guarantee you a warm and friendly reception.

Not surprisingly the Marche region is favoured by many Italian holiday-makers for the range of delights it offers, from the culinary wonders served up in its many restaurants to a richness of art and history which bears testimony to the region's glorious cultural past.

SHOPPING
On a more modern footing, Marche is the undisputed Italian capital of shoe-making, as a visit to any of the regular markets and shoe shops in the coastal towns of Civitanova-Marche, Porto San Giorgio and Porto Sant Elpidio will bear witness. For bargains for shoes look no further !

Quality leather goods, in particular bags and coats, are also a prominent part of the Marche economy.

During the summer months many towns hold their own outdoor antique markets. They stay open until at least midnight and are also a social occasion, combining wonderfully with that most Italian of pastimes, the passeggiata (stroll).
PLACES TO VISIT

There is a tremendous amount to see and do in Marche - from indoor and outdoor theatre and concerts, to horse racing, boat trips, hunting, trekking, mountain biking, riding, or simply strolling through the many historic piazzas, soaking up the atmosphere.

The area is rich in Roman and Etruscan archaeological sites and there is an abundance of fine art and architecture to absorb.

Marche boasts over 70 beautiful historic theatres, 25 of which are active, and 234 art galleries and museums. Historic towns are dotted across the region and numerous castles and fortresses also house their own museums.

And indoor and outdoor concerts, ranging from classical, jazz, to rock and pop are held in most towns.

For more information we recommend you take a look at www.le-marche.com or www.regione.marche.it but here are some of the more important galleries, museums and musical events:

Galleries and Museums
. Urbino - Galleria Nazionale delle Marche 
. Ancona - Museo Archeologico delle Marche 
. Ancona - Pinacoteca civica 
. Pesaro - Musei Civici 
. Fabriano - Pinacoteca Civica 
. Jesi - Pinacoteca Civica 
. San Severino Marche - Pinacoteca Civica 
. Fermo - Pinacoteca Civica 
. Ascoli Piceno - Pinacoteca Civica 
. Recanati - Museo Civico 
. Loreto - Museo della Santa Casa

Concerts and Music Festivals
. Pesaro The Rossini Opera Festival - August
. Macerata The open-air opera season in the magnificent Sferisterio arena - mid July to mid August 
. Fano - Fano Jazz by the Sea - July 
. Ancona - Klezmer Music Festival at the Mole Vanvitelliana - July 
. Urbino - Early Music Festival - July
. Jesi Opera season - end-September to November
. San Severino Marche - Blues Festival - July 
. Osimo - International Dance Festival - July 
. Senigallia - International Piano Competition - August-September
. Amandola - International Theatre Festival - end August to early September 
. Castelfidardo - International Accordion Festival - early October 
. Ancona - Ancona Jazz Festival - early November

Local Festivals

Festivals are part and parcel of the Marche fabric. Every town worth its salt throws a party of some description each year, from wine, beer, pizza or traditional food festas and sagras, to pagan festivals and carnivals. The majority take place during the summer.

Many religious feast days are also celebrated throughout the year and most towns have a patron saint whom they honour annually in suitable fashion. Normally local towns co-ordinate these public events, so you can go to all of them!

All festivals are family friendly affairs, where even the smallest of children can be seen running around into the small hours.

Below are just a handful of some of the better known annual events.
Event

Palio della Rana
(wheelbarrow race with frogs!)

Corsa alla Spada (sword chasing)

Settimana delle Osterie

Verdicchiuo in Festa

Musical Festival

Il Violina e le Selce
(modern music, dance & opera)

Palio dei Conti Oliva (medieval pageant)

Open-Air Opera

La Quintana
(medieval pageant/jousting)

Palio dell'Oca
(medieval pageant with a golden goose)

Wild Boar Chase

Festival of Amandola

Rossini Opera Festival

Torneo Cavallereresco di Castel Clementino
(medieval pageant/jousting)

Festa del Duca

Wine Fair

Ugly Competition

Jesi Opera Season

Grape Harvest Festival

Truffle Fairs
Place

Fermignano


Camerino

Polverigi

Montecarotto

Urbino

Fano


Pesaro

Macerata

Ascoli Piceno


Cagli


Mondavio

Amandola

Pesaro

Servigliano


Urbino

Offida

Piobbico

Jesi

Cupramaritima

Apecchio/Sant' Angelo in Vado/Acqualunga and Sant' Agata Feltria/Amandola
Period

1st Sunday after Easter


May

June

July

July

July- August

July


Mid-July to mid-August

1st Sunday in August


Mid August


Mid August

Mid August

Mid August

Mid August


3rd Sunday in August

September

September

End September - November

October

October - November

Simply Delicious

Italy's Marche region offers the visitor such a feast of culinary delights it really is difficult to know where to start. Food and wine is almost a religion in Marche, as well as it is in Italy. And to enjoy the vast range of traditional flavours on offer you are advised to take your time and do the job thoroughly.....Aaaaah.

Eating out means encountering a wonderful variety of Italian dishes, usually divided into three courses (antipasti, primo piatto and secondo piatto) followed by dessert, coffee and the choice of a mind-boggling array of "digestive" (and usually very potent) liqueurs. If done properly the whole thing can easily last two or three hours!

You will probably notice different names for restaurants apart from ristorante, such as osteria, trattoria, agriturismo and pizzeria, but rest assured that all serve up a range of great Italian flavours to savour. Pizzerias generally open only in the evening because they use large wood ovens, but pizza can be bought by the slice from take-aways at lunchtime as well.
Seafood is excellent along the Adriatic coast, while in the upland areas traditional cooking of local organic produce (especially lamb and suckling pig) is very much to the fore.

Local sheep cheeses produced predominantly in mountain areas include casciotta and pecorino. Wild boar is also often found on the menu in local restaurants and the tasty local salami is called ciaùscolo.

Highly prized white and black truffles are found in several areas of Marche and form an important part of many Italian dishes, while stuffed olives (olive all'ascolana) originate from the Ascoli Piceno area.

Lentils are grown on the huge expanse of the Piano Grande in the heart of the Appenines and are a staple part of the diet in that area, typically eaten with zamponi (stuffed pig's trotters).

Wine is highly prized in Marche and well known local labels include the red wines Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno, and the white Verdicchio. Vino cotto, a strong and sweet wine boiled down from normal strength wines is normally only found under the counter !
Marche Holiday Homes now offers a wine tasting and tour at the Umani Ronchi distillery in Osimo, central Marche.

Umani Ronchi owns 110 hectares of vinyards in Marche and Abruzzo and is a leading exponent of the wines of these two regions, such as Rosso Conero and Verdicchio. It is also at the forefront of experimentation with foreign grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot, producing wines from these and their more traditional grapes that have won international acclaim.
Many towns and villages in Italy's Marche region have their own food and wine events. Here is a small selection of them:

June 
. Pianello (near Cagli) - Sagra della Lumaca (snails) 
. Apiro (near Cingoli) - Sagra del formaggio pecorino (pecorino cheese)


July 
. Sefro (near Camerino) - Festa della Pizza 
. Matelica - Sagra della Rana (frogs) 
. Ostra Vetere (near Corinaldo) - Festa della trota (trout) 
. Montemarciano (near Senigallia) - Sagra del pesce (fish) 
. Castelplanio (near Jesi) - Sagra della crescia sul panaro (stuffed flat bread) - last Sunday of July 
. Ostra Vetere (near Corinaldo) - Sapori ed Aromi di Casa Nostra - local food and music

August 
. Monte Vidon Combatte (near Fermo) - Sagra delle quaglie (quails) 
. Sassoferrato - Sagra del Cinghiale (wild boar) 
. Cingoli - Sagra di prosciutto e melone 
. San Severino Marche - Sagra del cece (chick peas) 
. Staffolo (near Cingoli) - Festa del Verdicchio (verdicchio wine festival) 
. Fermo - Sagra delle vongole (shell fish) 
. Serra San Quirico (near Fabriano) - Sagra del coniglio in porchetta (roast rabbit with fennel) 
. Monteprandone (near San Benedetto del Tronto)- Sagra delle olive fritte (fried stuffed olives) 
. Pedaso - Sagra Nazionale delle cozze (mussels) 
. Massignano (near Ascoli Piceno) - Sagra delle frittelle (omelettes) 
. Venarotta (near Ascoli Piceno) - Sagra della vitella allo spiedo (spit-roast veal) 
. Loro Piceno - Sagra del Vin Cotto (a sweet "cooked" wine)

September 
. Apiro (near Cingoli) - Sagra della polenta 
. Montecassiano - Sagra del pesce (fish) 
. Cupramontana - grape festival in the heart of Verdicchio wine country in September. 
. Piandimileto (near Urbino) - Mushroom fair 
. Lapedona (near Fermo) - Sagra del Vino Cotto (the Marche version of Vin Santo) 
. Fermo - Sagra della Polenta 
. Arcevia - Sagra dell'uva (grape festival)

October 
. Acqualagna (near Cagli) - Fiera nazionale del tartufo (truffle fair) - last weekend in October and first two weekends in November in the town that calls itself the "truffle capital". 
. Acquasanta Terme (near Ascoli Piceno) - Festa d'autunno (autumn produce) 
. Montemonaco (near Amandola) - Sagra della Castagna (chestnut) 
. Castelsantengelo sul Nera (near Visso) - Sagra del Marrone Castellano (chestnut) 
. Sant'Agata Feltria - White Truffle fair 
. Sant'Angelo in Vado (near Urbino) - Mostra del tartufo bianco (white truffle show) 

November 
. Talamello (near San Leo) - Formaggio di Fossa cheese fair 
. Acqualagna (near Cagli) - truffle fair continued


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