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Portonovo Getaway

torre di portonovo | le marche holliday rent villa for small group and team buildingAh, “la bella Italia”—full of historic architecture, delicious food, and beautiful beaches. Le Marche is a fascinating region, because it has each of these three things plus an incredible mountain landscape featuring the stunning Monte Conero, sitting majestically at 572 meters above sea level.

Nestled in these slopes is Portonovo, a picturesque bay offering a tranquil, yet entertaining spot for anyone looking to experience all that the Conero Riviera has to offer. In addition to relaxing on Portonovo’s stunning, rocky beaches, there is much to be explored in this coastal hideaway, especially when it comes to the sights.

 Nature lovers: rejoice! You’ll be right in the heartland of the Parco Del Conero (Conero National Park) full of stone caves and beautiful, saltwater lakes: Lago Grande and Lago Profondo. You’ll also be able to explore the trails of Anello di Portonovo (the ring of Portonovo), offering unparalleled panoramic views that you won’t soon forget.

 Of course, the area is also rich in history and architecture. A local gem is the ancient church, Santa Maria di Portonovo, once the only building in Portonovo bay for nearly 700 years, which dates back to 1034. Another interesting landmark is the Torre Clementina, originally built in 1716 to ward off pirates.torre di portonovo | le marche holliday rent villa for small group and team building

Seafood lovers will be thankful for the many restaurants offering local “moscioli” (wild mussels) that seem to just melt in your mouth. Portonovo is known for this classic dish, as the moscioli are collected from its very bay! While seafood is usually paired with white wine, be sure to try the Rosso Conero at some point during your visit. Consider it the more mature, older sister of the white Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, one of Le Marche’s famous wines.

So there you have it—a beautiful landscape, activities galore, and specialty dishes to top it off. When you’re looking for a break from sightseeing in the city and want to explore one of the more enchanting sides of Le Marche, check out Portonovo. Keep in mind that this charming spot is just a 20 minute drive from Ancona, the region’s capital city, making it a perfect day trip or weekend getaway.

Best of Both Worlds: Le Marche Cuisine

le marche holiday small group vacation italyItaly is known for its stunning architecture, rich landscape, and of course—its delicious food. While each region has its specialty, Le Marche stands out for its diverse cuisine, stemming from its strategic location next to the sea and in the mountains. For this reason, it’s able to offer its locals and guests the best of both worlds…and let’s not forget about the wine, which deserves a separate blog post in itself!

Historically, each area and town in Le Marche has its own stand-out dish. When visiting Ascoli Piceno, for example, be sure to taste the olive ascolanelocal, green olives that are pitted and then stuffed with a delicious mix of meat and cheese. Then, the bite-sized morsels are deep-fried to perfection. It’s not hard to believe that this classic antipasto dish has made its way abroad, becoming known as a staple Italian dish in North America and the United Kingdom.

What’s really interesting about Le Marche, though, is the fact that you can find both delicious and locally sourced meat and fish, all from the same region. In addition to the classic grigliata, featuring either a fresh array of grilled meats or fish, the region is home to unique dishes that you can’t really get anywhere else.

Regional Food_2First up is the classic brodetto di pesce”, found along the coast. Don’t let the basic translation of “fish soup” fool you—this tangy, hearty dish includes a wide variety of fish including mussels, clams, shrimp, and more. Historically, this was known as a “poor man’s dish”, as the entire fish (including the head) was used, and depended on what was caught that day.

If you’re more of a meat aficionado, Le Marche has something unique for you, too. Go beyond the classic grilled meats, with a tasty appetizer featuring lonza, a salt-cured pork, or ciauscolo, another pork-based delicacy that is usually spreadable. Staying close to its roots, ciauscolo must be made in the areas of Macerata, Ancona, and Ascoli Piceno in order to be considered authentic.

In addition to an exciting travel schedule full of sightseeing and experiences, make sure that you set aside enough time for yourself to experience all that Le Marche cuisine has to offer, tasting both the land and the sea!

Vacationing in (Villa) Style

loreto | le marche holiday small group vacationTraveling to Italy has been the topic of various famous films, ranging from the classic Under the Tuscan Sun to the famous book-turned-movie, Eat, Pray, Love.  Although these films were released in different decades, they both contain independent characters who choose to take a much-needed break in classic Italian style. And you know what else? Both of the characters skip the hotel accommodations and dare to be a little more authentic, by renting an apartment or staying in an enchanting villa.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many travelers have been making the shift from hotel lodgings to more independent types of accommodations in order to feel more like a local. Gone are the days of chunky travel dictionaries and guided tours of over 50 people. These days, it’s all about making a personal connection and striving to see authentic pieces of Italy just like a local would.

Alright, so where should you begin? The best place to start is by establishing a comfortable home-base that will give you the comforts of home, while also placing you in a strategic location for sightseeing. Our villas in Le Marche offer our guests both of these advantages, nestled in the charming hills just moments away from hiking experiences, local shops, and even hot air ballooning!

Villa-di-zio-9Not only does a villa give you ample space to relax after a full day of experiencing the area like a true local, but it gives you some time to yourself. What better way to experience your independence than in a different country, where new experiences are at your fingertips? What’s more, is our villas have been hand-picked by a team of experts, and you won’t have to rely on Google to discover hidden gems regarding restaurants and things to do.

Well, there you have it. It turns out that some of our favorite characters from films based in Italy had it right from the start. Ditch the old-fashioned route of checking-in and out of a hotel, and go directly for your local experience as an independent traveler!

Le Marche: Region by Car

typical undulating patchwork countryside of le Marche ,The Marches,Italy. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.A road trip vacation in Italy is always a great time, but with so many culturally unique and exciting regions to explore (Tuscany, Umbria, Campania, and Calabria, just to name a few) it’s not always easy to experience the wide breadth of Italian culture and history in a single trip. That’s not the case with the Marche region though. Described by locals as “all of Italy in one province,” Marche is commonly compared to Tuscany as having all the same travel-worthy attributes, but without any of the tourists and higher-priced amenities.

Nestled between the confluence of the Adriatic sea and the base of the Apennine mountain range on central Italy’s east coast, the Marche region embodies all of Italy’s grandeur, from sun-soaked white sand beaches and stunning cliffside vistas to ancient hilltop hamlets and untouched mountain wilderness. To fully experience the majesty of Le Marche, a road trip along the coast and through the interior of the region is an absolute must. Though public transportation is available in some coastal parts of the region, it’s largely unreliable for travelers attempting to explore the entirety of Le Marche and all of its splendor. Fortunately, the Marche region is interconnected by a well-maintained and easy to navigate road system throughout all the coastal and interior areas – basically begging to driven on a road trip.

With such an abundance of exciting culture, history, and nature to be explored in Le Marche, we’ve compiled some sightseeing tips, destination recommendations, and general insights for travelers planning to rent a vehicle in Italy and tour the Marche region by car:

Ancona
ancona_italycharmeThe Marche region capital city, Ancona – a major trading port with ferry access to Greece, Croatia, and Turkey – is a definite “must-see” destination when visiting the area. Though it’s medieval city center was mostly destroyed during World War II, many intriguing historic attractions still remain, most notably the Ancona Cathedral. This cathedral, built in 996 AD and completed in 1017 AD in a mixed Romanesque, Byzantine, and Gothic architectural styles, sits atop the Guasco hill overlooking the port. The Ancona Cathedral provides not only panoramic views of Ancona, but also sweeping views of coastal lands abutting the Adriatic Sea and the opportunity to freely explore the cathedral interior, crypts, and ancient Greek temple it was built upon. Elsewhere in Ancona numerous equally interesting attractions can be found, including the ancient Arch of Traiano, the Church of Santa Maria della Piazza, and of course the many idyllic white sand beaches adjacent to Mount Conero.

Ascoli Piceno
ascoli_piceno_italycharmeOnce you’ve had your fill of the exciting attractions and relaxing beach vibes of Ancona, a short 25km drive inland to the ancient city of Ascoli Piceno is highly recommended. Founded several centuries before Rome, Ascoli Piceno embodies Italy’s historic provenance. The area boasts over 10 churches and convents, 50 medieval towers, and a large variety of intriguing structural wonders, ranging from ornate palaces to ancient necropoles, built between the 1st and 19th centuries in varying architectural styles.

One of the most notable historic attractions found in Ascoli Piceno is the Sant’Emidio all Grotte – a Baroque church built in 1721, with a travertine facade, built into a limestone cliffside. For a small donation, visitors can enjoy a tour of the church, convent, and surrounding grottoes.

Another highly worthwhile attraction to visit while touring Ascoli Piceno by car is the Giardino Botanico, a local botanical garden rich with rare species of flora and fauna, and the perfect destination for a tranquil afternoon stroll after a hearty Italian meal.

Macerata
macerata_italycharmeLocated just north of Ascoli Piceno, around 90km by car, is Macerata – a definite “must-visit” destination on any Le Marche road trip. With a rich history dating back to pre-Roman times, the city of Macerata is full to the brim with historical exploratory opportunity, and is highly representative of the Marche region’s claim of being “all of Italy in one province.”

One particularly notable attraction in Macerata is the Macerata Cathedral – a Renaissance era church with the remains of a 15th century Gothic bell tower. The cathedral was designed by famed Italian architect, Cosimo Morelli, and in addition to his meticulously designed interior styling, numerous famous works of art can be found inside as well.

Elsewhere in the city numerous historically unique Palazzo’s can be toured, and multiple museums can be found featuring collections of 18th to 20th century Italian art, historic documents relating to the unification of Italy, and a small smattering of modern art offerings. Fans of Opera should note that each year during the months of July and August, the city of Macerata hosts the Sferisterio Opera Festival, held in a 2,500 seat neoclassical arena built in the early 1820’s.

Pesaro
pesaro_italycharmeThe Le Marche road trip concludes, coming full circle back to the Adriatic coast, in the city of Pesaro. Nestled against the Adriatic sea on one side, and held close on the other by mountainous foothills and the San Bartolo nature reserve. Not only does Pesaro embody the Marche region’s cultural and historic diversity, but also all of Italy’s many diverse landscapes and wilderness areas in one place.

Many exciting historical attractions can be found in Pesaro, including the 15th century Ducal Palace, and impressively large castle, Rocca Costanza. Many interesting museums are located in Pesaro as well, including the Oliveriani Museum and Library dedicated to archeological finds in the area as well as a Civic library, and the birthplace of Gioacchino Rossini – a museum dedicated to the famed classical composer’s life and work.

Of course, no trip to Pesaro would be complete without some outdoor adventures as well. Numerous idyllic white-sand beaches can be found on Pesaro’s Adriatic coastline, and the adjacent San Bartolo nature reserve park includes a scenic driving route offering panoramic views of the city, verdant wilderness, and sparkling ocean vistas.

Touring Italy on a Le Marche Road Trip
Part of what makes the Marche region of Italy such a great place to visit is the well-maintained road system that snakes through the region, providing drivers with unfettered access to “undiscovered” locations normally inaccessible by foot or public transport. With such a diverse landscape of historic and culturally-relevant monuments to explore, having the freedom to discover Le Marche at your own pace and schedule is definitely recommended to make the most of your vacation in Italy.

White Truffles in Le Marche

lemarchholiday_trufflesNovember is prime truffle time and truffles represent the greatest culinary treasure of the gastronomic area of Le Marche. Le Marche Holiday organises specific gastronomic tours in order to know all the secrets of this edible treasure. For those who like the adventure, it is possible to take part in a special truffle hunting (that lasts about 2 hours) with a professional truffle hunter, who finds these underground fungi with the help of his trained sniffer dogs.
IMG_0416You will get your shoes dirty following the dog and his master through the woods early in the morning and, if you are lucky enough, you will see the dog will be furiously digging and the truffle hunter will extract the truffle carefully with a special tool. He then proceeds to cover the hole in order to not damage the natural spores and to scrape back the earth from the truffle.
After that you are invited in the kitchen and with the help of a trained chef you can cook or simply taste the real traditional truffle dishes of this undiscovered region.

SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO KNOW
1) Most truffles rarely grow in the same spot twice and are embedded under the soil, close to roots of holm oaks, chestnut trees, poplars, pines or hazelnut trees.

2) Truffles can be stored for several days in a paper bag in the refrigerator, but the strength of their flavour decreases rapidly with time.

3) Since the times of the Romans truffles have been used in Europe as delicacies, medicines, and even aphrodisiacs.

4) Traditionally, pigs were used to hunt truffles but in Italy their use has been prohibited because of damage caused to the soil and dogs have replaced them as they are easier to control and train (today, the “Lagotto Romagnolo” is the official breed for truffle hunting in Italy.).

5) Most of truffle hunters are serious about keeping their truffle finds and locations secret.

IMG_52156) Truffles must be collected at the proper time otherwise they will have little taste. You can buy fresh white truffles in Le Marche between October and the end of December.

7) Truffle hunting can be arranged seasonally for white truffles from September to December.

8) During the last weekends of October Sant’Angelo in Vado in Le Marche hosts the Mostra Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco Pregiato, an excellent chance to taste white truffles and see the town at its best.

9) From the end of October to the first two weekends in November Acqualagna in Le Marche is transformed into Italy’s “truffle capital” as it hosts the annual Truffle Fair.

10) White truffles are perfect to enrich main courses and may be inserted into meats, under the skins of roasted fowl, in foie gras, pâtés, or stuffings, but they are generally served raw for adding flavour to omelettes, rice or fresh homemade pasta as they exalt their fragrance.

Have you ever been to Le Marche?

Casa-Roberta-20When people from all over the world think about Italy, they usually think of Tuscany, Rome, Naples, maybe Milan and its Fashion Week. They think about the great food and the great people.

There’s a place that’s as much as beautiful as Florence, its landscape as various as Tuscany’s, its people that always warm and welcoming. I’m talking about Le Marche Region.

With its great mountainside, the wonderful seaside, the gorgeous countryside, Le Marche has a lot to offer to the newcomer. If you’ll come to LeMarche you’ll be discovering new gems everyday, without the crowdedness of Rome or the slight feeling of deja-vu that you would expect from the gorgeous but extremely well known Tuscany countryside.

It’s always the right time to come to Le Marche. On our website you’ll find plenty of offers to rent a beautiful Villa at great prices for you and your family and/or group of friends. Our Activities and Days Out are just perfect to discover our Region in a funny and fulfilling way. And if you’re in the mood for a Tour, we’ll have you covered: just check out our great Slow Tours and come join us!