Flying into Le Marche over the sparkling Adriatic sea and approaching the Italian coast, the sight of numerous hilltop villages in the gentle countryside below is breathtaking in its beauty. The landscape of Le Marche is characterised by a flat coastal plain in the east rising through gently rolling countryside covered with many small hilltop towns and villages, over to the dramatic snow capped Apennine mountains in the west. The countryside below ranges from undulating fields and numerous small olive groves, to vine glad hillsides and dramatic ravines. The five principle towns of Le Marche are Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Macerata, Pesaro and Urbino. Then there are the smaller but no less interesting towns such as Camerino, Fabriano, Fermo, Jesi, Loreto, Offida, Recanti, Sarnano, Tolentino and Urbania. The coastal towns include Civitanova, Falconara, Fano, Grottamare, Porto Recanti, Porto san Giorgio and San Benedetto.
The port of Ancona is the administrative capital of Le Marche. Over the centuries it has become a large and important port, which today includes frequent ferry services to Greece and other destinations all over the Mediterranean. The Romans first used the natural anchorage around the year 115 AD and the city has a varied and interesting history. Ascoli Piceno is the large city for the south of Le Marche, and is famous for the beautiful, Piazza del Popolo which is considered on of the most elegant provincila squares in all of Italy.The annual medieval tournament, the Quintana is held in the Piazza and is a truly memorable experience! Macerata is situated in central Le Marche. The annual open-air opera festival held in July and August in the 7,000 seat Sferisterio arena is now world famous. The city is also famous for hosting many works by some of Le Marche’s famous painters including Carlo Crivelli’s, Madonna and Child. The thriving fishing port of Pesaro is the capital of Le Marche’s most northern province. The city was noted for its fine ceramic workshops and in the Musei Civici one can find one of Italy’s finest collections of pottery. Gioachino Rossini was also born here and there is an annual Rossini opera festival held in August. Urbino has some of the most important Italian art and Architecture to be found in Le Marche. In the 15th century the Duke of Montefeltro collected in Urbino some of Italy’s most gifted painters and poets in the beautiful Ducal Renaissance palace. The Palazzo Ducale today houses the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche that includes Piero della Francesca’s Flagellation of Christ in its collection.
Villages holiday in Italy
The walled hilltop villages of Le Marche are now becoming popular both with visitors and also Italians from other parts of Italy, who are keen to return to where their forbears lived for centuries working the land. The villages all over Le Marche had experienced a slow decline in their populations after World War II as the young moved into nearby cities or emigrated to get a better life. Now because of the interest by both foreign visitors and property buyers, the villages are undergoing a transformation, as money is spent on the renovation and rebuilding of their historic centres and also on the many derelict properties in the surrounding countryside. Below are descriptions of the small towns and villages we know in our area of southern Le Marche. We will be adding more villages as we explore them and fully document all they have to offer.
Altidona is a quiet historic small village close to Fermo and Porto san Giorgio in southern Le Marche. It is only 3km from the Adriatic coast and often overlooked by visitors who tend to head for Pedaso, which is much larger and on the coast slightly further south.It is also often confused with Lapedona which is a slightly larger village very close by and slightly further inland.The population of the area of the Comune of Altidona which also covers the surrounding countryside is just over 3,000 and Altidona also belongs to the Union of the Comuni Valdaso.The area was originally settled by the Piceni tribe and over the centuries the area has seen many different settlers and these have left many important historic sites, museums and churches. In the beautiful parish church hangs a painting by the famous Italian artist, Vincenzo Pagani and this is well worth a visit.In the village there are several small bars and a lovely small restaurant which serves the local pasta dishes famous in this area. From the walls there are panoramic views over the surrounding countryside and also views of the Adriatic sea to the east.
The town of Amandola set near the Sibillini mountains has long been popular with British buyers and it is still a place where many foreigners wish to live in Le Marche. Amandola is located five hundred and fifty metres above sea level and offers panoramic views of the mountains to the west and is also close to the world famous Sibillini National park with its beautiful flora and fauna and breathtaking scenery.With a population of around four thousand the town can offer many attractions to the newcomer and visitor alike and has a full range of shops and hotels.The town also has the famous Bar Belli which is located under the beautiful porticoed area in the main piazza and where many of the foreign visitors can be found in the summer months relaxing in the sun. In the first week of September there are many cultural events going on all over the town during the annual International music festival and in the winter many of the ski resorts in the Sibillini mountains are just a short car journey away.
The beautiful town of Arcevia stands on a prominent ridge in the Apennine foothills of central Le Marche. Arcevia has been here since before Roman times and has always been a busy and vibrant place to live and work in. In the surrounding area there are the ten world famous historic castles which are all long associated with Arcevian influence in this part of Le Marche.The castles were all built between the 12th and 16th Centuries in the different architectural styles of each period. In Arcevia town, centrally placed is the Piazza Garibaldi within which is the imposing Comune building topped by it’s 14th Century tower. Also in the church of San Medardo can be found two 16th Century masterpieces by Luca Signorelli and an alterpiece by Giovani della Robbia. Arcevia today is a centre for exploring the Apennine mountains which are found only 12km away to the west. The world famous Frasassi Caves are only 15km away and there are many footpaths and trails for walkers and hikers to explore the mountains.In the town there are the beautiful G Leopardi gardens as well as a swimming pool and a large range of Leisure facilities. There are also many types of locally produced wines available, amongst them the famous white wine, DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and a small amount of Rosso Piceno which is normally produced in southern Le Marche.There are many festivals and food Sagras throughout the year with the large Wine festival in September along with the festa of the chestnuts and wines in close by Piticchio. In the summer months there are also many plays, exhibitions and concerts mostly held in the open air or in the Piazza Garibaldi and the Giacomo Leopardi gardens.
Ascoli Piceno is the main provincial City of the most southern province of Le Marche, which is also named after it. The city was founded by the Piceni tribe long before the Roman empire came into being and in 268BC it became an independent city free from the Empire. Later in 91BC it took part along with other central Italian cities in a revolt against Roman rule but was eventually reconquered and nearly totally destroyed in 89BC. Its inhabitants then became Roman citizens until the eventual destruction of the Roman empire many centuries later. Over the centuries it was conquered by many tribes both from Italy and the north of Europe, including the Franks and Ostrogoths and eventually in 1860 it was annexed into the new Unified Italian Kingdom until the Italian Republic was established. The architecture of the City is famous throughout Italy and some say thet the central Piazza del Popolo is known as one of the most beautiful in the whole of Italy. The buildings in the centre of the city are built from a grey coloured marble called Travertino which is quarried from the surrounding Moutains.At one time there were reckoned to have been over 200 towers in the city but even today there are still over 50 mainly mediaeval towers to be seen. There are numerous beautiful churches to be visited and one of the most famous is the Cathedral of Sant’Emidio housing an alterpiece by the famous Italian artist Carlo Crivelli who lived and worked in Ascoli Piceno. Today the city is a vibrant and busy centre for the province and has many beautiful shops, restaurants and bars. There is a wonderful museum in the historic centre which has many artefacts showing the various periods in the Ascoli’s long history. There is also a very famous café/bar in the Piazza del Popolo where visitors can take time out over a long pot of tea or fabulous cups of expresso along with a glass of the local sparkling water. Ascoli Piceno should be top of the agenda of any visit to Le Marche and it will remain in the memories of an Italian visit for ever
Being just a couple of kilometres from the Adriatic means that Campofilone has always been popular with Italian tourists as shown by the array of luxury villas and apartments in the area outside the walls of the old medieval village. Campofilone today is a beautiful and popular village and the main gate in the medieval walls are approached along a tree-lined avenue. The village is in the heart of a very fertile agricultural area that has allowed its inhabitants to flourish throughout its long history. At the centre of the village is the Piazza del Comune that replaced the old Abbey of St Bartolomeo which was originally built there in the 11th century. Campofilone is now world famous for its exquisite, thin egg pasta, Maccheroncini. This type of very fine egg pasta is thought to date back to the 15th century and is even mentioned in Benedictine documents from that time. The recipe was a close guarded secret and was handed down over the centuries from mother to daughter in the village and surrounding area. In August every year the village attracts thousands of visitors to its world famous festival of Maccheroncini, where the pasta can be tasted with a wide variety of sauces and different ingredients.
Carassai is a hilltop village of 1,300 inhabitants, near the Adriatic coast in the Ascoli Piceno province of southern Le Marche. It is now undergoing a period of rebuilding after many years of slow decline in its fortunes, and the historic centre is being slowly and painstakingly restored to its former glory. There are two ancient castles, the old medieval castle and the second castle built in the 15th Century. Near to the new castle can be found the 14th and 15th century fortified walls, now called the Military trenches or Military walks. Only 4km from Carassai is the impressive and fully preserved castle, the Rocca Monte Varmine. It has an impressive stone tower and walls and even the archer slits are still intact. In fact it is hard to find such a historically intact castle in the whole of Le Marche and it is believed that the first hand firing weapons were used here. Carassai is now closely associated with the production of Rosso Piceno and Falerio wines and also fine Olive oils.
Cingoli is a hilltop village in central Le Marche with a population of around 4,500 inhabitants.The village is in a high position on a hill and is famous for always being the last place in the area to lose the sun at night.It has also earned the name of ” Balcony of the Marche”, because of the panoramic views to be had from the village and especially from the Church of San Francesco.The Corso Garibaldi along to the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, once the forum of Roman Cingulum and still the heart of this stone-built town.To one side stands a fine 16th Century Renaissance town hall with a much earlier clock tower. Inside is the smart, newly arranged Museo Archeologico with many interesting Bronze Age exhibits.The library also houses the town’s Pinacoteca, or art gallery, with another of the region’s many collections of paintings by Lotto, and especially the painting of the Madonna of the Rosario, painted in 1538. Cingoli’s brief moment of glory came with the one-year papacy of its son, Pius VIII, in 1829; it was he who ordered a new facade for the late Baroque Cathedral on the main piazza, never finished due to his early death. Behind the town hall is the quiet Via del Podesta, this being famous as Cingoli’s most atmospheric street.
Civitanova is beautiful Adriatic resort centrally placed in the Macerata province of Le Marche and lies on the entrance of the Chienti river.The resort is made up of two distinct parts, Civitanova Marche and 4km inland Civitanova Alta and has a total population of around 39,000 people. Civitanova was originally built upon the ruins of the Roman town of Cluana and later was called Castello di San Marone.There are many famous historic churches and buildings in both places, including a 5th century baptismal font in the Church of S Paolo Apostolo and the beautiful theatre Annibal Caro.It is a centre for many concerts, art exhibitions and music festivals throughout the year and there is a large shopping street, the Corso Umberto Primo, in the more modern centre. This has a large variety of shops, bars and restaurants, but is famous in the region for it’s clothes and shoe shops. There is a large weekly market which is based in the central Piazza, but also overflows and takes up all the surrounding streets. Today Civitanova is mainly a tourist resort and has wide sandy beaches covered in brightly coloured umbrella’s and Lettino’s in the summer. But there is still a thriving fishing industry to be found down in the large dock area. Civitanova is also famous for it’s many upmarket shoe and leather factories and outlets. It also caters for a wide variety of sporting activities, such as golf, horse riding and sailing. The cuisine typical to Civitanova is a large variety of sea food dishes, but also dishes such as brodetto, a flour based dish dressed with octopus and chard sauce.
Corinaldo is a beautifully preserved Medieval town in the Ancona Province of Le Marche. It is just inland from the Adriatic seaside resorts of Senigallia and Marotta to the east and the surrounding countryside is covered in olive trees and the famous Verdicchio vineyards.It features the best preserved town or village walls in the whole of Le Marche at 912 metres in length. Their maximum height is 18 metres and they enclose the entire historic centre of the Town. The current walls date back to 1367 and were enlarged between 1484 and 1490 by the architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini.The walls along with the many churches, palaces and other ancient historic buildings make Corinaldo a fascinating place to visit.Corinaldo does not have a famous Piazza, but instead has a massive stairway with one hundred steps , called the Piaggia and the surrounding houses converge on it in a herringbone pattern. Also in the centre of the town is is the lovely neo classical Town hall andd the oldest house in the town, dating from the 13th Century.
Cossignano is a small but beautiful hilltop village about 10km inland from Cupra Marittima in southern Le Marche.The village has maintained its ancient historic centre and is a wonderful example of a typical rural Italian village. It has a small but interesting central Piazza with a wonderful old church, comune offices and a lovely French style bar. Just off the Piazza are several small artisan shops and in the village outskirts there is a more recently built area with many small shops including restaurants, bars and food shops.The origins of Cossignano are very old, dating from the 7th century BC Piceni settlement Which has been found in the area. In Roman times the important road connecting Asculum (Ascoli) and Firmum (Fermo) crossed the area and nearby the present day village, where possibly the Cossinii tribe had a settlement, so that from the name praedium cossinianum the modern name of Cossignano is derived. In the year 1039 the name of the town is mentioned in document about a donation from the Duchy of Spoleto to the large monastery of Farfa. The village is well worth a visit as well as to the larger and more famous town of Ripatransone close nearby to the west.
The origins of the town of Falerone in southern Le Marche have been lost in the mists of time but it is more than likely to have been established as a colony by Caesar Augustus after one of his many triumphs. The town is well preserved and with many outstanding buildings featuring very beautiful architecture. I think Falerone epitomises a typical unspoilt small Italian town and is a friendly and welcoming place to visit and to stay either on holiday or as a resident. The town is reached by going up the Strada del Pozzo or Road to the well and there are also remains of a well preserved Roman theatre in the historic part of Falerone. The theatre was built around AD43 of concrete construction faced off with ancient brickwork and it was only uncovered in the late nineteenth century. Close to the theatre there is also the less well preserved remains of a small amphitheatre and between the two structures there is an ancient water reservoir which is still connected to the remains of the Roman baths. The countryside around Falerone is some of the most beautiful in all of Le Marche with gently rolling hills and fields covered in vineyards and olive groves.
Fano in the northern Le Marche province of Pesaro/Urbino is a large coastal town of ancient origins dating back to 49BC. It was associated with Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus built an arch to the entrance of the town in 2 AD. Unfortunately over the years the town has been caught up in various wars and has suffered much damage, some dating back to the Napoleonic wars but a lot of bombing and destruction was caused to the old town both in the first and second world wars because of its strategic importance.The railway now runs between the old town and the modern resort that has grown up along two stretches of sandy beach. To the southeast runs the Spiaggia Sassonia, a long strand of pebbly beach with a wide promenade and to the northwest runs the shorter Spiaggia Lido, with its sandy beaches and colourful umbrelloni and deck chairs.Today the town is a vibrant centre for the arts and in July the famous Fano jazz festival is held and also the Fano dei Cesari festival of the arts is held in the same month. The church of Santa Maria Nuova, just off the main square on Via de Pili, holds two treasures by the Umbrian painter Perugino, the Annunciation and the Madonna with Saints and it is probable that the young Raphael helped the Umbrian master with the painting of the Annunciation. In the centre of Fano there is now a large selection of shops, restaurants and bars and large numbers of Italians from the surrounding area come to Fano for its elegant streets and plentiful shopping.
Fermo is a a historic and beautiful town located in southern Le Marche, previously in the province of Ascoli Piceno, but in 2009 it will be in its own province of Fermano. The city is 319 metres above sea level and is only 2km from the Adriatic coast and its old port of Porto san Giorgio.The ancient Firmum Picenum was founded in 264BC and was the local headquarters of the Roman powers. In 1199 it became a free City and remained independent until 1550 when it was annexed to the Papal States.Today Fermo has a population of over 35,000 and is a busy and prosperous town with a full range of shops, restaurants, galleries and museums. It has a vibrant nightlife and throughout the year there are many outdoor events including music festivals and sagras staged in the central Piazza, the Piazza del Popolo.Above this on the commanding Rocca is the commanding 13th century Cathedral and open park area around which are small bars and play area for children. In the summer many outdoor events are also held here and it is a wonderful place to spend a hot summers evening.
Force is a pretty hilltop village in southern Le Marche and has become increasingly popular with foreign property buyers over the past four or five years. The village is located on a high and wide ridge between the Aso and Tesino valleys and has panoramic views of the countryside below. It is close to the other popular Le Marche villages of Montalto delle Marche and Rotella and only a short drive from the spectacular Sibillini Mountains to the west.The village is famous for its artisans who produce wonderful wrought iron work for use both as ornaments and also in properties owned by the local population. But thework is so excellent that also much of the production goes for export much further a field. It also hosts many festivals and sagra thoughout the year and if you are in Le Marche in August a visit to Force is a must.
Gauldo is really beautiful mediaeval village in the Macerata province of Le Marche. The town is in the foothills of the Sibillini Mountains and close by to the large ski resort of Sarnano.Within the well preserved ancient fortified walls of the town are many towers and churches dating back to the 14th Century. These include the ruins of a magnificent mediaeval tower that collapsed only 30 years ago and the 14th century church of San Savino which contains many fine paintings by Antonio Liozzi and Alessandro Ricci. There is also the Franciscan cloisters built in the 14th Centry and with the famous 12 arcades.Just outside the town is a magnificent fortified castle which is extremely popular with visitors to the area and has a long and distinguished history.Gualdo is also famous for its wonderful food and it is based on the basic peasant food so typical in the area but brought up to date in the past century. The area around Gualdo is covered with many olive groves which produce outstanding olive oil. The oil is a fine and slightly sweet typical olive oil from the central Le Marche region and because of the importance of the town in producing and exporting olive oil to other parts of the region and throughout Italy the town is now part of the Citta di olio society.Gualdo is well worth a visit as well as the lovely towns of Sarnano and Penna san Giovani while you are in that area of Macerata.
The beautiful town of Jesi in the Ancona province of Le Marche was for many centuries the capital of an independent city state and still has the magnificent mediaeval walls that were built to protect the town in the fourteenth century.you arrive. These massive walls were built on Roman foundations, strengthened with buttresses and impregnable towers, and later had houses built along parts of their length. The town lies just inland from the Adriatic sea on a valley plain and the town is a thriving and vibrant centre in this part of Le Marche. The whole town is full of historic buildings and small cobbled lanes and passageways giving Jesi a true mediaeval feel.In the historic centre there is Piazza Fredrico II and the name recalls the birth here of the fabled Medieval Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II in December 1194. Frederick was famous for his military prowess and well loved by the inhabitants and he always called Jesi his special city. Today Jesi is famous for its banking and financial sector which has created many jobs in that area of Le Marche. Also many IT industries are now located within the town and also in the local area. Agricultural equipment and technical industries are also very important to the economy of Jesi and it is a centre of excellent for mould making firms, exporting a lot of what it produces to the UK and even the US. It also has an important and large food industry base, producing sugar, milk and cheese products and also many other machinery manufacturers are based there including olive oil and wine making equipment suppliers.
Lapedona is in southern Le Marche and is avery pretty but quiet village within 10km of the Adriatic. The village has a population of just over a thousand and alot of the time it seems almost deserted as the villagers are very private people. The historic centre of Lapedona has one bar, a post office and a couple of small shops but most of the main shopping area is outside the village and easily reached by foot. It is a wonderful place to use as a base to explore the surrounding countryside and villages as it is very well positioned close to the coast as well as having good links to the mountains to the west. The village still has fully intact outer walls and has two entrance gates, Porta Marina and Porta da Sole and these are very fine in appearance. The elegant 16th Century Comune buiding is in the centre of the village with an attractive small Piazza in front There is a small monestary within the historic centre and the church of San Giacomo with it’s fortified belltower is well worth a visit.
Loreto is a world famous and historic town situated in central Le Marche just south of Ancona and Monte Conero. It is famous because of the tale of the village house arriving from Nazarath of Our Lady which was said to have appeared there in 1294. Work on the beautiful Sanctuario della Santa Casa to protect it and act as a shrine was started in 1468 and in 1507 Pope Julius finally approved Loreto as a place of Pilgrimage. The resulting Church and shrine is a conglomeration of work by many of the most celebrated names of late Renaissance Italy. Santa Casa was started early on in Gothic lines, later architects including Bramante and Sansovino gave the church a thorough Late Renaissance treatment and feel. The Dome of the Sanctuario dominates the skyline for miles around and can even be seen from the nearby Autostrada to the east. Although the story of Our Lady’s house arriving from Nazareth by supernatural means was believed by believers throughout many centuries in our more sceptical age it is now suggested that the bricks and beams of Mary’s house were brought from Palestine in the ships of the retreating Crusaders when returning from the Crusades in the middle ages. Today enormous bonfires are lit on the eve of the 10th of December, the Feast of the Translation of the Holy House, to help the Santa Casa on its way and this is a festival famous throughout Le Marche and indeed all of Italy.Loreto is well worth a visit and the town and its ancient religious churches and works of art is truly a wonder to behold.
Macerata is the provincial capital and is a large town in central Le Marche, with the mediaeval part located on a hill overlooking the rivers Chienti and Potenza. There is a larger modern area to Macerata on the lower plain and in total the town has a population of over 40,000 inhabitants. The town has a thriving University which was founded in 1290 and it is now very popular with students from abroad as well as native Italians. The town has many lovely mediaeval streets and there are also many beautiful Palazzi in the centro storico. Macerata has many museums and art galleries and the famous Madonna and Child by Carlo Crivelli are on display in the Palazzo Ricci. The large and imposing Cathedral in the centro storico dates from the 1100s. In each July and August the world famous Macerata Opera festival is held in the 3,500 to 4,500 seat Sferisterio arena. The large arena was erected in the 1820s by the architect Ireneo Aleandri and the orchestra pit is so wide that musicians at each end cannot hear one another. It is a truly wonderful experience to hear Opera in the warm night air in the summer in the arena with candles flickering in the darkness.
Montalto delle Marche
Montalto delle Marche is a large village in southern Le Marche and famous for being the home of the future Pope Sisto V, who was elected Pope in 1585 and who made Montalto a papal state for a short while before the formation of the state of Italy brought that to an end.The village is also unusual in that for its size it has a Cathedral in its historic centre, stated in 1587 by the first Bishop of Montalto. Later in the 1800s Bishop Aronne had the famous artist Luigi Fontana spend over 5 years painting the interior with beautiful Fresco’s and so made this cathedral one of the most admired throughout Le Marche. The village is well placed in southern Le Marche, situated equidistant between the coast and the Sibillini Mountains and has become very popular with British nationals buying property in this area of le Marche.There is also a large museum, an imposing town hall and a civic picture gallery in the village and these have become very popular with both locals and tourists visiting the area. There are several small cafés, small local shops, bars and a few restaurants in the central village and in the surrounding area many small wine and olive oil producers. The village is very vibrant with an active Pro Loco and the main historic centre has undergone extensive restoration over the past few years. Montalto delle Marche has two small fractions or hamlets in close proximity, Porchia and Patrignone. Patrignone is the closer of the two and is especially beautiful with an outstanding church tower and small narrow lanes. Porchia is situated to the east of Montalto and is a busy and vibrant hamlet of just a few hundred persons.
Montedinove is a pretty hilltop village located in southern Le Marche and close by to the much larger and more famous village of Montalto delle Marche. Montedinove is in my opinion one of the most perfect small historic Italian villages found in the whole of Le Marche. It architecture and sleepy small streets and lanes are a delight to visit and explore at leisure. But the views from the village walls are exceptional even by Le Marche standards, offering panoramic views of the Sibillini Mountains and valley plains beneath the village. I believe this small quiet village offers many architectural delights to visitors and also clients purchasing village houses to restore and use. Montedinove is set high above the Aso and Tesino valleys enjoying a position that has been long used by different tribes and armies occupying the local area. In the recent past many treasures and artefacts have been found connected with the ancient Piceno tribe and the whole area is stepped in history. Today Montedinove is a quiet place and one of the many small villages associated with local agriculture and viniculture. Offida one of the two main wine centres in this part of Marche is within a few kilometres and the Adriatic sea is only a 35 minute drive away to the east.
The village of Montelparo in southern Le Marche is a particular favourite of mine as I had two farmhouses until recently situated just outside the village. It is often overlooked as it is off the main roads between the coast and towns like Comunanza and Sarnano, it is a very beautiful village and is on a high hill which looks down on some outstanding countryside with distant panoramic views of the Sibillini mountains. The village is also quite near to other more well known southern Le Marche villages such as Santa Vittoria and Ortezzano The mountains to the west can be reached in under thirty minutes and the coastal resorts of Porto san Giorgio and Pedaso are less than forty minutes away. The village has many old established families and names such as the Franca’s and Tempestilli have been living in this part of Marche for centuries. The village has a full compliment of small shops and bars and a raised Piazza near the ancient central church on which many sagra and festas are held all year round. There is also the refurbishment and restoration of the old Hotel Leone in the centro storico of the village and the resulting new hotel and restaurant should be nearing completion in early 2010. This new addition to the village should also bring more visitors into the area who have hitherto not heard of this delightful part of Le Marche.
The village of Monterado is located in the province of Ancona in central Le Marche and also contains the frazione or subdivision of Ponterio and village is near the bigger and more famous town of Corinaldo. The village is only a short drive from the coast and the resort of Senigallia but it should not be overlooked on any visit to this part of Le Marche because it contains the beautiful castle and gardens at the Castello di Monterado. The Castello is in the centro storico of the village and has a large dry moat and stunning gardens which have been restored and cared for by the current owners.The Castello di Monterado offers accomodation and the suites are full of fresco’s and staying here is a truly memorable experience. The village also boasts an ancient church in its centre and the streets are full of small historic townhouses which add to Monerado’s overall charm.
Monterubbiano is one of the very few villages in Italy to have been awarded the Italian Touring Club’s Orange Flag Award. The village sits high above the Aso valley and has panoramic views across the valley and to the Adriatic in the distance. With a population of over 2,300 it is one of the larger hilltop villages in southern Le Marche. The small medieval cobbled streets and lanes and the open green spaces around the perimeter of the village allow the visitor a wonderful opportunity to explore a beautiful unspoilt Italain village. Because of its beauty and proximity to the Adriatic coast, the village has become increasingly popular with foreign buyers. It has many small family run shops as well as several bars and restaurants. The Hotel Degli Sforza in the Corso Italia has a large rooftop restaurant allowing stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the distant Mountains. The village is unusual in as much as a lot of the houses have small gardens, which is not usual in hilltop villages in southern Le Marche. It is only ten minutes from the coastal resorts of Pedaso and Porto san Giorgio, and yet less than 45 minutes from the Mountains to the west. Like all of the Le Marche hilltop villages, there is always something interesting going on in Monterubbiano, especially in the summer. The word “Sagra” in Italian means “Festival”, not to be confused with “Festa” which means “Feast Day”. Monterubbiano has its fair share of both: The Procession of “Cristo Morto” – Good Friday, ever other year (Even years) “Scio’ la Pica” – A Pageant on Pentecostal Sunday “Sagra della Polenta con lo stoccafisso” (The Polenta & Fish Festival) – Last Sunday in July “Sagra delle Tagliatelle Fritte” (Fried Tagliatelle Festival)- 10th and the 12th August. This sounds revolting, but let me tell you that it actually is delicious. “Sagre dei Cannelloni” (Cannelloni Gastronomic Festival)- 16th August in the Historical Centre. All types of lovely pasta dishes. “Festa di San Nicola” (Saint Nicholas’ Day) – 10th September in the Historical Centre. “San Martino in Piazza” (Saint Martin in the Square) – 11th November in the Historical Centre.
Montefiore Dell’Aso sits 411 metres above sea level only 10 minutes from the seaside resorts of Pedaso and Cupra Marittima. Perched on the summit of a hill surrounded by fertile countryside, Montefiore remains proud of its farming community and their traditions. To the north is the Val d’Aso famous for its orchards and nurseries, providing a tapestry of pink and white blossom during the early spring. To the south you can discover the Val Menocchia and explore the vineyards and olive groves that produce the D.O.C wines and extra virgin olive oils for which this area is famous. Much of the original fortifications of the village remain standing today and a walk around the village will reveal some delightful architectural features, notably the Portale Della Pinnova and the Church of St Francis with its 14th century frescoes and beautiful cloisters. The village has a very active “pro loco” responsible for organising festivals and other cultural events. These volunteers work hard throughout the year to ensure that there is always something to look forward to in the village and that the vital community spirit is maintained. Of particular interest are the Shrove Tuesday Carnival festival and the Autumn fair in September. Driving into the village between the old castle wall and the line of tall trees you will arrive in a beautiful piazza on the south side of the historic centre. Here a number of stylish bars and shops reflect the natural flair of the Italian’s and the great pride that they have in their local produce. Here is the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine and sit at the tables on the terrace, overlooking the valley beneath and toward the sea in the distance.
Moresco as a name literally means “Moorish”. The village was first mentioned in literature in 1083 and recently it has been voted one of the 40 most beautiful villages in Italy. It is also an orange flag village showing outstanding quality of life and architecture. The village is only 8km from the Adriatic sea and very close to it’s much bigger sister village of Monterubbiano. Moresco from a distance is easily recognised by the outstanding 12th century heptagonal tower and palazzo. It is only a small hilltop village but it is a perfect example of a mediaeval village and from many of its wall the Adriatic can be seen in the distance. In the summer there are many festas and sagras held in the town and it is always worth a visit when in southern Le Marche. One of the most popular festas is in the November when the festa del Braciere is held in the village and locals from many local villages attend.
Morro D’Alba was originally settled in Roman times and in the middle ages it became an administrative centre for the surrounding region.The name Morro draws it’s name from the words Moor and Murr used in pre Roman times to signify a hill.In 1862 the word d’alba was added to the original name as it was thought that an ancient town called “Alba Piceno” had existed in that area, but there is no real proof available from historic records to substantiate this claim.The town walls are originally 14th Century and these were covered in the 17th Century by a raised walk and covered portico’s known as “La Scarpa.” Today this beautiful hilltop village is world famous for the wines that are produced in the surrounding area.The most famous of these is the red wine known as Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. It has ancient origins and is still only cultivated in the Comune di Morro d’Alba, and is one of the most recent additions to the list of DOC wines of Le Marche. Morro D’ Alba is less than 15 minutes from the Adriatic coast and is a perfect base to use to explore this beautiful and historically varied area of Le Marche.
The town of Offida in southern Le Marche is the second of the two main centres for wine production in the Ascoli Piceno province, the other being Ripatransone further to the east. Offida is a large town of over 5,000 inhabitants and is one of the overlooked architectural gems in the whole of the Le Marche region. The 15th Century town hall in the unusual triangular Piazza being especially fine with its swallowtail battlements and unusual loggia.Offida is full of small narrow lanes and historic houses, giving a breathtaking mediaeval feel to the whole town. The area around Offida is home to a large amount of the production of the increasingly famous Rosso Piceno red wine, but the town is also very famous for the production of fine lace, Pizzo a mano, this originating from the 15th Century and today this is a thriving local industry.Offida is only 40 minutes from the Adriatic coast and 20 minutes from the Sibillini Mountains to the west and it should be a must on any visitors list of places to see while visiting Le Marche.
The origins of the town of Ostra and lost in the remote past and in fact the town was until 1881 called Montalboddo or Monte Bodio. According to legend, after the battle in 410 AD when the town was destroyed by the Visigoths, the population of Ostra fled to the hills owned by a citizen called Bodio. They stayed there and built a new village ( hence the name Monte Bodio). More recent excavations and historical research have revealed however that the ancient Monte Bodio was in fact decended from an Roman Municipium called Ostra. Once the authenticity of the artefacts and excavations were confirmed, the town council decided at the end of the 19th Century, to give back to the town, its noble and original name, Ostra. However the Le Marche town of Ostra while having the same name is not connected in any way to the port of the same name just outside of Rome, on the west coast of Italy.The town has nine towers built on the fourteenth Century walls, which were put there to protect the Sanctuary of the most holy crucifix, which can be dated to 1333. It has many beautiful churches, palaces and galleries and tours are available for visitors to learn more about its long and varied history. Today Ostra is a busy thriving town situated in the Ancona Province of Le Marche. It has many fine shops and restaurants and is increasingly popular with visitors. Ostra is 16km from the Adriatic coastal resort of Senigallia and 18km from the large and historic town of Jesi. The airport at Falconara can be reached in 30 minutes and the mountains to the west in less than an hour. A visit to the excellent website of the Ostra Comune to find out more about Ostra’s past and present is highly recommended.
The village of Ostra Vetere is often confused with the larger town of Ostra which lies 8km to the east of this pretty village, but it is much smaller than its namesake and in some ways is more attractive with many ancient buildings and a lovely mediaeval historic centre.It is dominated by the spires of the church of Santa Maria, which has a large bell-tower and the neo-Gothic dome both giving the church a spectacular appearance. The village is famous for its many works of art contained within the numerous small churches within the centro storico. Churches such as the beautiful small church of Santa Lucia, as well as the churches of San Servero and Santa Croce. The village and indeed the surrounding area are well known in this part of Le Marche and are steeped in history going back many centuries.Also worth a visit are the historic archives in the municipal library and the Santa Maria di Piazza art collection housed in the historic centre of the village. Most of the town walls date back to the XIV-XV centuries, and it has many large and imposing portal gates such as the Porta Santa Croce to the west of the historic town centre. Ostra Vetere is a sleepy typical Italian village, but it has wonderful small narrow streets and lanes and many small shops and bars. It is only a thirty minute drive from the coast at Senigallia and well worth taking the time to visit when in that area of Le Marche.
Pergola is a lovely small town set in the Cesano valley and the town is believed to date back to the 13th Century.It is famous in the region for its many beautiful palaces and also a very high number of historic churches dotted throughout the town. One of the oldest churches is the church of San Francesco which was founded in 1255 only 30 years after the death of St Francis. Many of the other churches in Pergola date from the 18th and 19th century when the own was filled with many artists and famous artisans and was a very busy cultural centre.But perhaps Pergola is most famous for the Bronzi Dorati which are believed to date from the first century AD and are bronze statues of equestrian figures and two women.They were discovered in 1946 and it is thought that they might represent the wives and children of Roman Emperors, but several theories still abound today. A the moment the statues spend some of the ear in Pergola and some of the year on show in Ancona. Pergola is a place that should be part of any visit to Le Marche and the town and inhabitants are truly delightful.
This medieval hilltop village in the Ascoli Piceno province of Le Marche has a population of 2,500. It is perched 360m above sea level on a hill overlooking one of the main river valleys. The village follows the typical pattern of this region with the main square at the top housing the clock tower, and the rest of the village stretching down below built against the rock face. The views from the village stretch from the magnificent Sibillini mountains across the rolling southern Le Marche hills, as far as the blue of the Adriatic sea. There is a lively social calendar in the village particularly during the summer months when the village’s population seems to double with the influx of Italians from the main cities in search of a better quality of lifestyle.
Ripe is another small town very close to the coastal resort of Senigallia in central Le Marche.It has wonderful battlements in the historic centre, a relic of its ancient castle and the fortified town that once dominated this valley and the route inland to Corinaldo to the west. In the past the town was a busy centre for trade in this area of Le Marche and even today it is a busy and vibrant place.It has a pretty town centre surrounded by small bars and restaurants and also many small shops selling local produce and catering for both the local population and visitors to the area.
Ripatransone is a town situated on a ridge on the Northern slopes of the Tesino Valley, with incomparable views of both the mountains and the Adriatic coast, and is known as ‘The Balcony of the Piceno’. Ripatransone has a population of just over 4,500 so is in fact a town rather than a village. It is a lively orange flag town with many bars, restaurants, shops, museums and historical buildings. Along with the village of Offida it is famous for being one of the centres in southern Le Marche producing the wines of Rosso Piceno. It belongs both to the Associazione Citta del Vino and also the Associazione Citta dell’Olio. It also has 2 theatres that play host to many of the musical and theatrical events which take place each year, including the ‘Festival di Londra’ jazz festival. The Luigi Mercantini Theatre opened in 1843 and is named after the famous poet who was born in Ripatransone. The town is about 15 minutes from the beaches of Cupramarittima and Grottamare and 45 minutes from the Sibillini National park and being in the middle of DOC wine producing countryside, a visit to the local cantina’s is a must!
Sarnano is a busy large town and spa located in the Macerata province of central Le Marche and is close by the famous ski resort of Sasso Tetto.The town is famous as a winter resort and base for skiing throughout Le Marche and the ski resort has 9 pistes and skiing there is suitable for beginners and intermediates.Sarnano originates as a independent municipality in the thirteenth century and over the centuries many beautiful churches and palazzi were erected in the town. Today there are many priceless works of art contained within the many historic buildings in the historic centre of the town. In the central art gallery next to the thirteenth century church of St Francis, there are works such as the Madonna with Child and the Angels by Vittore Crivelli, and a wooden board attributed to Nicolo di Liberatore, the Alunno which represents St. Francis with the People. Sarnano is well worth a visit while in Le Marche and it is easily found as the SP78, the main Comunanza to Macerata road runs through its centre.
Senigallia is on the Adriatic coast of Le Marche and lies at the mouth of the river Misa.It is also known by the name of the velvet beach, as it has over thirteen kilometres of very blond coloured sandy beaches. Senigallia was originally founded in the 6th Century BC by the Senonian Gauls and became the Roman colony of Sena Gallica in 289 BC.Today its most famous and striking monument the large fort, the Roca Roveresca which was built in 1480. Inside the fort are the ruins of the original Roman fortress and guided tours take place to allow the public to view the archeological remains contained within the fort. The port of Senigallia became an important centre of maritime trade for the Duchy of Urbino in the middle ages and eventually even for the papal state itself.There is a large Piazza next to the fort with fountains and used throughout the summer by couples and families. In the grounds of the fort concerts are held throughout the year as well as fairs and cultural events in the summer and autumn. Today Senigallia has a population of over 40,000 inhabitants and in the summer season, its population rises to over 100,000, mainly Italians who return to this beautiful town for their summer vacations.All along the beach front there are numerous beach bars and lovely sea food restaurants and a wonderful nightlife in which all family members take part. The historic centre of Senigallia is only a short walk from the beach and is full of restaurants, bars, galleries and a large variety of shops. It is an elegant city and a beautiful and vibrant base from which to explore Le Marche with the Cities of Fano, Loreto, Urbino, Jesi and Ancona within easy reach. Also the large and vibrant Adriatic resort is less than an hour to the north and the beautiful city of Bologna is only 90 minutes away.The Airport of falconara, which is served by the low cost airline Ryanair is only 18km to the south and once out of the airport buildings it is possible to be parked in the central Piazza within 20 minutes!
Serra de’ Conti
Serra de’Conti is a typical hilltop village in the central Le Marche province of Ancona.It is said to be one of the most beautiful of the larger hilltop villages in the whole of Le Marche and has mediaeval fortified walls and ten towers. There is also the famous historic fortified gate of Porta della Croce which is still used as one of the main entrances to the village, and has been recently restored to it’s former glory. Anyone with an interest in visiting untouched and unspoilt mediaeval villages would do well to visit Serra de’Conti as the village is a masterpiece of Mediaeval architecture.In the middle ages Serra de’Conti became established as a leading trade and agricultural centre for the area and because of it’s relative wealth, many large and grand buildings were built within the town walls and even today there are many priceless works of art in the galleries and museum in the village. The village is 216 metres above sea level and has a population of just over 3,600 and today has a thriving business and agricultural community, as well as a small amount of tourism, mainly by Italians, as it remains off the beaten track to most foreign visitors and tourists . But the coast is still only 30 minutes away by car and the beautiful and historic large town of Jesi just 20 minutes distant.
The lovely small town of Treia is located in central Le Marche in the province of Macerata and close to the beautiful cities of Macerata and Tolentino.The town is thought to have been founded in 400BC by the Sabine tribe and was later an important Roman town but was abandoned by Rome when the empire fell.Treia is renowned for the panoramic views from its walls and the Sibillini mountains to the west and Adriatic far in tot the distance in the east can be seen on clear days. Treia is a very beautiful town and has unusual Egyptian statues from the Roman period, unique in the whole of Le Marche.The town has many interesting and historic buildings including the medieval brick Cathedral and the seventeenth century town hall which holds many priceless Renaissance and ancient paintings and artefacts.The medieval City centre is very well preserved and has the famous eight doors located in the ancient town walls.Treia also has several small lush parks and open spaces and this gives the town a refined feel and is very popular with visitors to the Le Marche region.
Treia is also famous for the annual festival ball game played on the first Sunday of August. The game is called Disfida del Braccia and is a very fast and high contact ball game dating from the Renaissance. Each team has three players and each player wears a wooden bracelet or Bracciale and this covers their hand. By hitting the ball against a wall using the bracelet each team scores points against the other team until the game is eventually won. The game takes place in the first Sunday of August when the Disfida, a local folk festival is held every year in the town. Urbino in northern Le Marche is a recognised World Heritage site due to its wonderful Renaissance architecture and the cultural influence it had during the 15th century.The city is just west of the beautiful city of Pesaro, is located on a high sloping hill with panoramic views and still retains most of its Mediaeval fortified walls. Much of the original city still remains unspoilt and the pottery industry for which it is also famous is still makes wonderful earthernware in the surrounding area using the local clay. The city really is one of the prized Mediaeval jewels of the Le Marche region and has a world famous University, where many foreign students still choose to complete their studies. Its most famous building is the grand Palazzo Ducale which still houses the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche which is still one of the most important collections of Renaissance paintings in the world. The prominent Duomo was founded in the 11th century and restyled in the 12th Century and is well worth a visit, as are the many beautiful and historic buildings still to be found in this historic city.