Le Marche (pronounced Leh Markeh and quaintly known in English as The Marches) is in the east stretching between Abruzzo and Emilia Romagna. Put it this way, if Italy is a boot then we’re talking the back of the calf just under the bit where your knee creases.
Said , admittedly by people from Le Marche, to encapsulate the best of Italy in one region, this place has until recently been too off the beaten track for most visitors. But cheap flights to the airport at Ancona have now made it accessible, although you will really need a car to get around its innermost and most interesting parts.
You’ll probably have heard of Rimini, beloved summer hotspot of Italians who love to lie up close and personal on its packed beaches, exchanging gossip and parading swimwear. Well, Rimini is in Le Marche. But I’d advise against peak season (July and August) and going in spring or early summer to some of the more out of the way places and forget the beach altogether.
In early spring the weather heats up very quickly and you’ll get some lovely long warm days from March onwards, although locals would always swear nothing can be guaranteed until ‘dopo Pasqua’ (after Easter.) The countryside is bursting with life as spring is sprung, bulbs leap out of the ground, trees burst into blossom, birds sing – you get the idea.
In May, the countryside has its own incredible glittering light display, courtesy of the fireflies. Imagine sitting out in the garden of your holiday home late at night with a glass of wine watching the fairies twinkling around you … This month also brings fields of poppies while the Piano Grande in the Sibillini mountains has breathtaking displays of wild flowers. The Sibillini Mountains, popular for skiing in the winter, make a wonderful day out. The roads are practically empty and you can stop off for a delicious lunch at one of the many agriturismos. How does fresh mountain trout and homemade crepes filled with spinach and ricotta sound?
June is a month drenched in sunflowers. Its clear bright days are perfect for walking, photography, cycling and visiting the almost empty beaches or ancient cities steeped in history. Or doing nothing at all, of course.
Make your base the wonderfully named Caserma Carina (‘pretty barracks’ no less) and you can explore the heart of Le Marche from our attractive and well-priced luxury holiday apartments. Located in central Marche and within walking distance of the pretty medieval town of Mogliano we’ve been recommended in Alasdair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay and they don’t put just anyone in there, you know.
Are you convinced yet? Have I wrenched you away from Tuscany? Good! Le Marche is a magical place and deserves your undivided attention. You won’t regret it.