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Region of Marche (Marchigiani)


Region of Marche
Cities/Town :   Province :
Region : Marche
Country : Italy
Continent : Europe
Gentilic : Marchigiani
Population : 1,541,692
Area : 9,366.0 sq km
Latitude : 43:20:58 N
Longitude : 13:32:33 E
Visiting Marche

The Marche (at one time "The Marches of Ancona") sit on the east coast of Italy fronting the Adriatic Sea, with Umbria to the west, Emilia Romagna and the independent Republic of San Marino to the north,  Abruzzo to the south, and a small corner of Lazio Roma to the south west.

At one time settled by the early italic tribe, the Umbrians, and considered part of Umbria by the neighboring Etruscans, and later the Romans, the Marche were absorbed into the Papal States and more or less remained there, an undesignated area, until the area was incorporated into the modern country of Italy in 1861 and the modern Region and its provinces created.
The coastal areas of The Marche are flat and relatively fertile, but the western reaches of The Marches, are ribbed with the Appenines.  So, except along the coastal highway (A14) from Brindisi to Bologna, north-south travel is restricted to a myriad of secondary and tertiary highways and local roads, on which you will encounter - pleasantly - a countless number of small villages and towns, sitting at the edges of rivers, nestled in valleys or perched improbably on the sides, and sometimes the top of mountains.
The coast drive, coming either from the north or south is one of Italy's most picturesque, and chances are you will look for lay-bys where you can pull over and take a few snaps as you gather in the gorgeous sea views across the Adriatic and up and down the littoral.
Ancona is the only really sizeable commercial harbor along the Adriatic coast, although there are other smaller ports, especially Fano, that are the homes to small fishing fleets.  Ancona is also an important Italian naval station, and The Marche have long been supplying sailors to the Italian navy. 
Because Ancona is so busy, and because it is heavily industrialized and because a chaotic modern dreariness has risen out of the destruction wreaked on the place during World War II (the well dug-in Nazis and Canadian liberators fought a ferocious house-to-house action here) travelers and tourists tend to avoid the City. But, those who do will miss some of the architectural and artistic treasures that are found throughout the city, particularly in the old medieval core from which the modern city emanates.
In Ancona, Ascoli, Fano, Fermo, Urbisaglia and Macerata, there are numerous ruins from the era of the Roman empire.  Architectural styles for churches, public buildings and the palaces of the wealthy range from Romanesque to Byzantine and Gothic.  The Renaissance style also reached The Marche, and one will encounter both Renaissance buildings, and art works by Raphael (born at Urbino) and Bramante (born near Urbino). 
Camerino, a hill-side city now home to a small university, and Matelica, a walled valley-town, in the central southern part of the Region also have a few architectural gems worth going out of the way to see.  Fabriano, on the SS76 from Rome, is also a sizeable medieval  city, surrounded by industrial plants, but strangely devoid of architectural and artistic merit. However, just to the east and north of the city is the Grotto di Frasassi, an extraordinary cave system high in the mountains.  Access is somewhat pricey, but wow!
The agricultural lands in The Marche, like those in Umbria are, to the modern traveler, a delightful checkerboard of small vineyards, olive groves and fields ranging across the valley floors, up the gentler slopes of the mountains, and even on small plateaus and other level (and not so level) areas higher up.  The checkerboard effect, however, was the result of an oppressive near-feudal land use system - mezzadria - that broke the land up into small holdings and  tied peasant farmers to lands owned in large part by the aristocracy, the church and city dwellers.
The Marche, like other out of the way places in Italy, have a long, interesting and complicated history, and holds its own pleasures and treasures.  Getting to know them takes more time than a passing glance.  Now is a good time to make a plan to visit The Marches,  another area of Italy that English-speaking travelers have yet to "discover", and so it has the feel, for us, of a new and different Italian experience. 


Contribution from Nadia Sparapani, Loving Marche

Le Marche region is defined “Italy in one region” because "Le Marche, bordering the Adriatic Sea, is a land of beautiful vineyards, snow-capped mountains, and beautiful beaches", says the AARP, the famous American magazine; there you can enjoy with a great variety of activities from the high mountain of The Sibillini with fantastic lakes, mystic caves, nature trails, interesting Natural Parks where you can practice canoeing, rafting and down-hill with bike and mountain-bike in summer and skiing in winter. Arriving on the rolling hills you can explore a fantastic land full of ancient medieval hill-top Castles, eighteen of which have been awarded the prestigious prize by Italian Touring Club as ideal destinations for holiday due to a mix of culture, tradition, ancient emotions and relaxing sensations. The hills are covered by extensive vineyards producing vigorous red and white wines like Verdicchio, exported in many countries all around the world;  they are covered by olive groves also from which it’s possible to get a delicious Extra-virgin olive oil that could be also Organic and Bio-dynamic.

Travelling around this land you can still find many artisans protected by the stone walls around small towns, such as the blacksmith or the carpenter building coloured “birocci” (two-wheels carts); women are lace-makers making precious embroidery on the bobbin in Offida. In Acquaviva Picena and Falerone expert hands made useful “pajarole” straw or wicker basket, in Ascoli Piceno you can visit many laboratories making painting potters and “terrecotte” and in Fabriano there is the ancient “Cartiera” (paperworks). The area of Fermo and Civitanova Marche is famous for the shoemakers where artisans with their ancient trade work together the big shoe-industries exporting Italian hand-mad shoes all around the world.
Arriving near the coast, Le Marche offer many kinds of Beaches: the big and sandy beaches in Gabicce Mare at the foot of Mount St. Bartolo and the wonderful Velvet Beach of Senigallia, north of Ancona, while in the south you can choose between Porto Recanati with a sandy and gravelly beach, Porto San Giorgio with tree-lined avenues, Grottammare, “the pearl of Adriatic” and San Benedetto del Tronto well-known as the “palm-trees-river” with its spacious and numerous cycling-streets.
The visitors of Le Marche cannot fail to visit the Frasassi Caves (Grotto) of Genga that represents one of the most grandiose and fascinating underground complex in the world. Splendid stalactites and gigantic stalagmites are alternately interspersed with crystal flows and falls, in a symphonic pattern of harmonic forms. There are long itinerary along which the surreal landscape has blossomed into an enchanted world that takes one to the primordial beginning of nature.
Last but not least we must remember that Le Marche have a strong cultural heritage resulting from the fact that this region has given birth to important characters such as the famous musicians G.B. Pergolesi from Jesi author of Sacred Music, G. Spontini from Maiolati author of the famous “La Vestale” and G. Rossini from Pesaro author of famous lyric operas like Guglielmo Tell and the “Barbiere di Siviglia”. Two important summer Lyric Festivals are dedicated to their: the Sferisterio Opera Festival in Macerata and Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro that in 2013 will celebrate Giuseppe Verdi. Urbino, the Ideal City of Renaissance and Unesco heritage, has given birth to two famous painters and architects like Raffaello Sanzio and F. Barocci and to a genius like Bramante;  the most famous decadent poet is Giacomo Leopardi from Recanati and Fabriano has given birth to Gentile da Fabriano, one of the most representative of international Gothic period and Macerata is the city of Father Matteo Ricci, promoter and symbol of Chinese Catholicism.
It’s still undeniable that an extraordinary world thrives in old villages across Marche where, among keeps and bell towers, alleys, small squares, theatres, museums, galleries, old laboratories, well restored country-houses, old farmhouses and crowded beaches, natural parks, pretty hotels, typical recipes, olive groves, vineyards, laboratories of handmade cheese, truffles, honey, castles and, if you want,  you can discover this world with Loving Marche.

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