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Marche

In the east sits Le Marche nestled between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea and is one of Italy’s least visited regions. If you want to get away from the crowds but still want to enjoy landscapes on a par with Tuscany or Umbria then this is the place for you, a gorgeous and affordable place to visit.

The Marche has medieval market towns on top of hills and small villages with self-catering holiday villas. Urbino is an idyllic hill town to equal many in Tuscany or Umbria. Houses and palaces of weathered brick and pantiles cling to steep narrow streets. Atmospheric mountains provide a spectacular backdrop, not unlike those in many famous Leonardo de Vinci paintings and following on the art theme the town is the birthplace of famous artist Raphael. The Mount Sibillini National Park includes the most beautiful section of the Apennines with a sublime mountain lake and a dramatic deep narrow gorge packed with ancient legends. Look out for wolves, chamois and brown bear and if you dare to look up you may see a rare golden eagle. The best way to explore the park is by walking, cycling or horse-riding. If you want a long distance walk try the Great Sibylline ring, 120km of marked trails, nine days to walk or 4-5 days on mountain bike, the highest point is Monte Vettore at a lofty 2478m with panoramic views.

The March Coast is more developed and forms the southern end of the Adriatic Riviera. The resort of Pesaro offers a mix of beach life and culture and was the birth place of world famous composer Rossini, in August they hold an annual festival and opera to celebrate this. Although not officially part of Le Marche, or even Italy, the independent Republic of San Marino is a good day out. How it evolved or even still exists is somewhat of a mystery, having survived the rise and fall of many powerful kingdoms. It is now the world’s oldest surviving sovereign state since 301 AD and boasts a UNESCO medieval settlement on the slopes of Monte Titano.

The local rustic food and drink specialities are delightful and difficult to find anywhere else in Italy, and very affordable, Le Marche has it all, it’s very much undiscovered and just there waiting for you.

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