Travellers who want the best of central Italy are now heading for Le Marche, the third region, alongside Tuscany and Umbria that portrays the charm of Central Italy.
It is pronounced “lay markay”, is plural (Le Marche) and is sometimes translated into English as “The Marches”.
The region lies on the eastern side of central Italy, between the Adriatic Sea and the high Apennine mountains, gently raising with mild hills from the Adraitc coast, up to the Central Appennini.
Why Le Marche?
Although the coast has been popular for many years, much of the inland remains almost unspoilt, preserving the culture of authentic Italy.
Although, the Adriatic coast has been a mecca for “sun n’ sand” holiday makers for decades, few venture far from the beaches. Inland, perhaps more than anywhere else in central Italy, you will find places where time really has stood still. Compared to its central Italian sisters, here culture comes in more easily digestible proportions and high quality, as it is in Urbino, an UNESCO heritage site.
Visiting Le Marche
The region is known for pleasing visitors who come to Le Marche looking for the taste of genuine Italy, untouched by mass tourism but welcoming to foreigners.
Whether you want to admire masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture, trek across wild uncharted mountains or hunt out the best of the catch in a Mediterranean fishing port, Le Marche has enough to keep you busy for years. And you will rarely have to jostle with hordes of other foreign tourists.
Many visitors who come to Le Marche are looking for a taste of the “real” Italy, unsullied by mass tourism, yet welcoming to foreigners – if that’s what you want, you won’t be disappointed.
When to go
While it can be hot between mid-July to mid-August, it is rarely overcrowded and up in the mountains the breezes are cooling.
May, June and September are the ideal months to tour Le Marche if you can’t take the heat; the landscape is clothed in spring green or the first tints of autumn, any rain tends towards brief showers rather than endless drizzle, and it’s usually possible to find a bed without booking.
The wettest seasons are mid-February to mid-April and mid-October to mid-December when days of grey mist and rain can set in up in the mountains. It can also be cold in midwinter, particularly when the bitter northerly tramontana winds blow.
What to visit
Mountain villages where the time has stood still, or small towns to discover by yourself, all immerse in the charming countryside, like Recanati, Cingoli, Jesi, Camerino, San Leo and Fermo. Interesting to visit and more popular are the bigger towns of Urbino, premises of the court of the Duke of Montefeltro in the 15th century, Ascoli Piceno with it’s beautiful main square, Ancona with it’s sea port and more hidden attractions, and Macerata with its annual open-air opera festival.
On the sea, Sirolo, near Monte Conero is small and delightful, while for busier areas look for San Benedetto del Tronto, Gabicce and Senigallia. If you like nature, don’t miss the Frasassi caves, the Furlo Gorge, the Monte Conero and the Sibillini Mountains…..
Many tourists visit Le Marche for its natural beauty and most of the spectacular inland mountain country remains unscathed by the worst excesses of the 21st Century.
You’ll find some of the most impressive mountain scenery to the south of the region amidst the Monti Sibillini, whose peaks are often covered with snow until the late spring.
The Frasassi caves are some of the most spectacular limestone caves you are every likely to visit, the longest in Europe.
Limestone again is the leading player at the Furlo Gorge, a dramatic natural pass through the mountains that has been in use since prehistoric times.
Most of Italy’s Adriatic coastline is stubbornly flat. Monte Conero, just south of Ancona, is a rare exception – a high limestone mountain that plunges into the sea and guards a handful of delightful little bathing resorts.
The best mountain views to be had in the north of the region, on the doorstep of Urbino, are around the giant Monte Catria. In spring the upland meadows are carpeted in alpine flowers.
People of Le Marche
They are kind, modest, gentle, genuine and a little bit more relaxed then people of northern Italy. That means many like, and have time, to enjoy a relaxing conversation, possibly in front of a traditional meal prepared by the home cook, just like mamma does.
Come to Le Marche, experience true authenticity, slow food and slow life. Relax, explore and enjoy…. you deserve it