Places, experiences and events for your perfect holidayLittle is known of Italy’s secret gem Le Marche, so here’s an introduction to just some of what you’ll be able to enjoy during your holiday with us. I haven’t included food and drink as this topic deserves a complete Blog just to itself so watch out for my next piece!
Seaside and sport
The Adriatic coastline of Le Marche which stretches some 180km boasts long stretches of fine sand beaches and rocky shoreline. The region has one of the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in Italy where you’ll find a variety of water sports available. One of our favourite beaches when Grace was little was Porto San Giorgio where you’ll find plenty of great seafood restaurants with private concession facilities and children’s play equipment. You can walk out for a long way without the sea level dropping – perfect for toddlers and the adults get to enjoy a delicious fresh fish lunch as well!
If you like hidden coves then head to the Monte Conero Regional Natural Park where some beaches are only accessible by boat and the scenery is stunning. There’s also a great selection of restaurants to enjoy some freshly caught fish delights.
We were recently introduced to the beach at Cupra Marittima by some regular guests which was a great find – much quieter even in the height of season and has a wonderful woodland backdrop.
Civitanova Marche just 30 minutes away from us has a wonderful atmosphere in the evening with an endless stretch of good seafood restaurants, some stylish bars and some very chic shopping streets. Although the long stretch of beach is typically filled with rows of parasols, if you just fancy an afternoon lazing by the sea followed by an evening of people watching and nightlife, this is definitely well worth a visit.
National parks and outdoor activities
Around 90,000 hectares of Marche is covered by parks and protected areas where you’ll find a web of well-marked trails perfect for hikers, horse riding and mountain bike enthusiasts. Caserma Carina is situated in the heart of Marche, giving easy access to 2 of the main national parks:
The Sibillini National Park which forms part of the Apennine mountain range offers a vast variety of flora and fauna, ancient villages, hidden lakes and rivers where you can experience rafting and canoeing. Cycle hire is available and guided walks for all levels http://www.sibillini.net/en/index.php .
The Monte Conero Regional Natural Park sits perched high above the sea just south of Ancona city. As well as an area of natural beauty it also hosts some beautiful towns such as Sirolo, Numana and Portonovo. The views down the coastline are spectacular and you’ll find plenty of trails suitable for both walking and cycling.
Cities of Art
Starting from the north, Pesaro is a lively seaside town with sandy beaches and historic centre. The Ducal Palace is well worth visiting and the City Museums. It also hosts the annual Rossini Opera Festival during August, dedicated to Gioachino Rossini, one of the greatest Italian opera composers.
The capital of the Renaissance and birthplace of Raphael, Urbino has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for over 20 years. Only 2 hours away and well worth a slightly earlier get-up during your holiday many of our guests visit this beautiful city, especially the Ducal Palace which is home to The National Gallery of Marche – one of the most impressive exhibitions of Renaissance Art in Italy https://www.palazzoducaleurbino.it/
So many of our guests fly into Ancona but it’s easy to forget that the capital city of our region is home to an extensive harbour and port worth visiting simply to admire the variety of commercial ships, sailing boats and luxurious yachts. The oldest part of the city hosts the Romanesque cathedral of San Ciriaco built in the XI century with a series of intricate red marble lions standing guard in the entrance and some of the best views of Ancona from its elevated position. The National Archaeological Museum spread over several floors contains a vast collection of artifacts and finds that have been excavated from the surrounding Marche region of Italy.
Macerata, just 20 minutes away and birthplace of Jesuit Matteo Ricci, still boasts its XVI century bastions and myriad of streets that rise to the Piazza della Libertà. The city’s great Sferisterio arena hosts the annual Macerata Opera Festival, second largest to Verona https://www.sferisterio.it/en . In the Palazzo Buonaccorsi you’ll find a very interesting Carriage museum and art gallery displayed in the beautiful palace rooms.
Romanesque and gothic architecture distinguish the beautiful southern city of Ascoli Piceno, steeped in history and art. The famous Piazza del Popolo is known as the “Living Room of Italy” and sits in the heart of the historic centre where you’ll find the historic Caffè Meletti, the Church of St. Francis (13th-16th Centuries), and the Loggia dei Mercanti. A few blocks away, the Piazza Arringo was the administrative and religious centre of the city, surrounded by the Cathedral, the baptistery, the Bishop’s residence, and the Palace of the Commune which incorporates the Pinacoteca Civica or Municipal Art Museum.
Forts and Castles
Some of the region’s most ancient buildings can be found in the province of Macerata- Camerino has an imposing system of fortifications which include the Rocca d’Aiello and the Rocca da Varano and at Castelraimondo the majestic Castello di Lanciano is a perfectly preserved example of fortified architecture. All of the towns and villages around Macerata are worth visiting: Caldarola with its Castello Pallotta (currently closed); the medieval centre of San Severino; the Castello della Rancia at Tolentino where you’ll find an interesting archaeology museum http://www.tolentinomusei.it/en/castle-of-la-rancia ; the Rocca di Urbisaglia, a military fortress dating from the early 1500s; the enchanting town of Sarnano with its perfectly preserved medieval hamlet.
The sacred roads of faith and spirituality
The history of the many valleys which crease Le Marche is marked by the stories of numerous saints and inspired by the heritage of great humanity and spirituality.
The town of Loreto is famous as the seat of The Shrine of the Holy House (Basilica della Santa Casa), one of the oldest and most important Marian pilgrimage sites of the Catholic religion. The Shrine is home to the Holy House of Nazareth where, according to tradition, the Virgin Mary was born and raised. Pilgrims from all over the world flock here to pray in front of the statue of the Black Madonna. The Museum of the Holy House is located in the Palazzo Apostolico and preserves paintings, sculptures and ceramics donated to the Sanctuary over many centuries.
The Basilica di San Nicola in Tolentino is one of the most important sanctuaries in all of central Italy. The interior of the church is rectangular with a single nave and a polygonal apse. The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament sits to the left of the alter under a cupola and the Cappellone di San Nicola contains a fresco dating from the 1300s. There is a museum inside the Basilica which houses numerous paintings and sculptures, precious ceramics and permanent nativity scenes http://www.sannicoladatolentino.it/ .
Fonte Avellana Monastery (Monastero di Fonte Avellana) on the slopes of Monte Catria south of Frontone on the Marche/Umbria border is a Catholic monastery founded in 979 by a group of hermits. Most of the buildings were built in the 12th century and it was an important centre of learning in the Middle Ages. Dante visited and described it in his Divine Comedy. The most interesting part of the monastery is the scriptorium where they produced illuminated medieval manuscripts. The beautiful room was designed to optimise the use of natural light. You also visit the Dante Alighieri Library, the church, and the crypt. This area is also great for walkers so you can enjoy exploring this beautiful area on one of the many trails. http://www.fonteavellana.it/
The Abbazia di Fiastra, just 10 minutes by car from Caserma Carina is one of the best preserved Cistercian Monasteries in Italy. It’s part of a National Reserve which covers some 1800 hectares of land with trails for walkers and cyclists (bike rental is available at the Abbey). There’s a very interesting museum displaying many of the ancient Roman relics excavated from the nearby archaeological site of Urbs Salvia, 2 good restaurants, a rustic agriturismo with a children’s play area and lots of animals, picnic area and tourist information office http://www.abbadiafiastra.net/en/
Marche for families
Marche has lots to do outdoors during your holiday. At Felceto di Matelica you can visit the Dragon Stone Park and see sixteen full-sized model dinosaurs set in reproductions of their natural habitats https://www.lepietredeldrago.it/ .
There are three waterparks in the province of Macerata: the Malibu Acquapark at Porto Recanati https://www.malibubeach.it/it.html , the Acquaparco VerdeAzzurro near Cingoli https://www.verdeazzurrovacanzemarche.it/en/ and the Parco Eldorado at Apiro http://www.parcoeldorado.com/en/contacts-water-park-eldorado-apiro-macerata.html . The Adventure Park of Lake Cingoli has treetop courses, itineraries through artificial canyons, tunnels and rivers. Just outside of Ancona is Falconara Zoo, home to many species of animals with a restaurant and picnic area https://www.parcozoofalconara.com/en/ .
At the Adventure Park of Lake Fiastra you can try your hand at a variety of activities including forest zip lines, tandem paragliding, archery and rafting https://www.asgaia.it/en/adventure-park-lake-fiastra
Experience the thrill of exploring a series of tunnels that stretch out for some 9km under the city of Osimo www.osimosotterranea.it
A day out for all age groups is a guided tour of the Frasassi Cave network. Extremely well organised and open all year round, this network is one of the largest in Europe and not to be missed. www.frasassi.com
Horse riding at the local Abbey can be easily arranged for all levels along with bike hire for exploring the vast grounds.
For younger children there’s are some well-equipped play parks along the coast of Porto Sant’Elidio and a very well kept play park called Epilandia where you’ll find enclosed trampolines, soft play area, inflatable slide and small go-kart track – one of our daughter’s favourite places when she was younger. For teenagers there’s a full sized nationally used go-Kart track just 20 minutes away near Corridonia http://www.cogiskart.com/ENG/indexENG.php
Made in Marche – quality shopping
Many of the most famous Made in Italy products are crafted right here in Marche. Why not treat yourself and a group of friends to a long weekend pre-Christmas and spend some fun time hunting for fashion in the many designer Outlet stores – there’s a wide selection of clothing and footwear outlets in Marche as some of the most internationally famous brand names were born here; Prada, Hugo Boss and Tod’s, just to name a few. Just 15 minutes away in Montappone, you’ll enter the hat manufacturing capital of Italy with many Outlet stores and a very nice museum http://museodelcappellomontappone.it/ .
Marche is particularly famous for its leather craftsmanship and in fact nearly 90% of Italian leather shoes are produced here. During your stay let us take you to a local leather workshop where you’ll be able to treat yourself to a beautifully made handbag at a fraction of the retail price.
Festivals and events
Italy is world famous for its many local festivals and Marche certainly has something for every age and interest. I couldn’t possibly list every festival and event but here’s a good example of what’s waiting for you throughout the year and for more detailed information visit: https://www.marcheinfesta.com
Macerata Opera Festival July/August www.sferisterio.it
Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro August www.rossinioperafestival.it
Festival Musica Antica, Urbino July www.fima-online.org
Festival Armonie della Sera (classical music festival held in various locations during July/August) www.armoniedellasera.it
Sant’Elpidio Jazz Festival June/July www.jazzdimarca.it
Ancona Jazz Festival July www.anconajazz.com
San Severino Marche Blues Festival July/August www.sanseverinoblues.com
Nearly every town in Marche holds its own local festival but here’s some of the larger events:
Palio di San Giovanni Battista, Fabriano August www.fabrianopalio.it
Palio de Castelli, San Severino Marche June www.paliodeicastelli.org
Cingoli 1848 July www.cingoli1848.it
Torneo Cavalleresco Castel Clementino, Servigliano August www.torneocavalleresco.it
Quintana di Ascoli July/August www.quintanadiascoli.it
Medievalia, San Ginesio August https://www.facebook.com/paliosanginesio/
Palio del Grappolo d’Oro, Potenza Picena September
An example of events in the beautiful ancient town of Mogliano, within walking distance from us:
19 April – Good Friday Procession and re-enactment
1 May – Magnalonga – guided walk through the countryside with delicious food and drink stops
3 May – Santa Croce Festival – foods stands and music
30 May – Ascension procession by local children
1 June – Infiorata – a whole street is decorated with flowers in the centre of town
2 June – Ascension Festival with morning market
June/July – Hip Hop and classical dance show performed by local children in the main piazza
1st weekend in July – 1744 Festival with traditional dress, food, music and re-enactments
July – specialised food evening in the main piazza Garibaldi
August – Traditional festival at Santa Croce with food and music
August – International Folklore festival with dancers from all over the world
August – specialised food evening in the main piazza Garibaldi
Late August/early September – Beer Festival in the local park with food stands and music
September – Il Paese dei Balocchi – Sunday afternoon fun for children with creative activities, and games
October 31 – Halloween Festival with horror course though the old town, music and food