As a 100% born and bred marchigiana, I can’t help but agree with this ranking. Also, I don’t lie when I say that I’ve been telling anyone I met the same things that the famous publishing company highlighted: le Marche might not be as famous as Tuscany — “its superstar neighbour”, to use Lonely Planet‘s words, but they are as charming and appealing. They have plenty to offer to its visitors: stunning natural beauties and vistas, good food, a lively coastline, inviting events and towns full of history and elegant architecture.
Some inland areas of my beautiful region, however, have been severely hit by an earthquake in 2016. Gorgeous towns like Visso and Camerino have been working tirelessly ever since to recover and give this land and its treasures a future. This is why visitors and the fundamental contribution they bring to our economy are more than welcome, especially now and in the years to come: by traveling in these areas, they will support the local economy and help our territory thrive again.
Author Joe Fullman wrote for the Lonely Planet’s publication that “exploring Le Marche’s lesser-known treasures is like unlocking a secret level in the video game of Italy”: I would like, then, to invite you all to come unlock the gems in my region by giving you some reasons why you should consider visiting le Marche.
1. Villages and towns full of history, art and stunning architecture
From the hills to the coast, you will find beautiful towns, castles, enchanting squares and churches, richly decorated theaters, Roman and Renaissance buildings, and hidden artworks.
You don’t want to miss a visit to Urbino and its Ducal Palace, which hosts the National Gallery of Le Marche. There you can see artworks from painters Raphael — who was born and started his career in Urbino, Piero Della Francesca, Lorenzo Lotto and the list goes on.
Even the smallest churches hide the most magnificent polyptychs and religious art. So it’s no surprise that the biggest ones are masterpieces and important places of worship and pilgrimage: one of the most important ones is Loreto’s elegant Basilica della Santa Casa, which enshrines a little building that is believed to be the house where the Virgin Mary lived.
If you’re looking for sightly squares, head to Ascoli Piceno, San Severino Marche, Fabriano (and everywhere else, to be honest); if you’re passionate about fortresses and castles, you can go to Gradara, Tolentino (Castello della Rancia), Camerino (Rocca Varano), Senigallia (Rocca Roveresca) and breathe some history while you’re there.
2. Cultural fervor
As I mentioned before, some great artists such as Raphael were born in Le Marche and worked there. Giacomo Leopardi, a great Italian poet, grew up in Recanati. Pesaro gave birth to composer Gioachino Rossini, well known for his operas.
As you all know, every Italian region has its special dishes and food. Of course, Le Marche make no exception: I suggest you try olive all’ascolana (from Ascoli Piceno), which are big green olives stuffed with meat, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried; ciauscolo (my personal favorite), a delicious spreadable salame; special kinds of pasta, like vincisgrassi and maccheroncini di Campofilone (don’t let the name confuse you: they’re a long type of pasta); tartufo (in Acqualagna you can find a delicious white truffle); brodetto, a fish stew you can try in San Benedetto del Tronto, Ancona, Porto Recanati and Porto San Giorgio; local wine, such as Verdicchio (produced in Jesi and Matelica).
At almost any time of the year you can find festivals all across the region, the so-called sagre, that celebrate these foods and bring people together by combining good eats with live music, raffles and markets. What’s more, we have a fair showcasing our products: it’s called Tipicità, which means “typical products”, and the next edition will take place in Fermo in March 2020.