Cities in Le Marche: a journey between sea & mountains in Italy!
le città delle marche

Discover with me all the beauty of the cities of Le Marche, a land rich in history and tradition, crossing it from north to south!

 

The uniqueness of this region is undoubtedly its great territorial richness where the sea, hills and mountains coexist together creating a stunning and varied landscape.

These characteristics make it a true natural heritage, suitable for discovery by all types of travellers (from nature lovers to those more interested in history and culture). The efficient road network allows a rapid “sea-hill-mountain” connection, enabling the visitor to pause and admire the landscapes along the way.

 

marche
Unsplash – Bernard Hermant

 

This diversity of the environment makes the cities of the Marche unique and all different, especially in terms of attractions: the geographical position of the cities influences all their beauty, allowing the tourist to enjoy unique emotions and experiences. Moving between the provinces of Le Marche, one also realises that lifestyles and culture change drastically in line with the territory itself (starting with the cadence and dialects), making the entire journey even more captivating.

From the chain of the Apennines to the shores of the Adriatic Sea, the journey among the most enchanting towns in Le Marche can finally begin. Starting from the northern part, I will take you to discover the most important city centres down to the border with Abruzzo.

I will show you an itinerary suitable for those who want to enjoy a fairly long trip (about a week). On the other hand, if your idea is to spend a weekend there, I advise you to focus on the most important towns. Lovers of the sea, mountains, history and even good food, buckle up… The journey begins! 👇

 

🧳 Discover Le Marche with an Italia Delight food & wine tour!

 

The Duchy of Montefeltro: the province of Pesaro Urbino

Our journey begins here, in the northernmost part of the territory. In the past, the province was part of the famous “Duchy of Urbino” established by the Montefeltro dynasty, loyalists of the Papal State, important as the nerve centre of the Italian Renaissance. Traces of this territory’s glorious past can still be found today in numerous historic towns where you can fully immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere of the time. Here are the most important towns in northern Marche.

 

GRADARA

gradara
Pixabay – pcdazero

 

This is a small village on the border with Emilia Romagna. It represents the clearest prototype of medieval architecture in the region. Its historic centre is a little gem waiting to be discovered, thanks to the wealth of ancient elements present. Fortified by massive walls that are still intact, there is the famous “Rocca Malatestiana”, a castle-fortress that hosted the love affairs of the tragic couple Paolo and Francesca. Given the opulence of the castle, embellished over the years by all the past dynasties, medieval-themed banquets are still organised today with dishes strictly from the period.

 

PESARO

With its ancient Roman origins, the city can be visited in an eco-friendly way thanks to the “Bicipolitana” (a huge network of cycling routes that crosses the entire city). On the saddle of your bike, you can ride along the seafront admiring the symbol of the city, the “Sfera Grande” by architect Arnaldo Pomodoro, and the symbol of the art nouveau style, Villino Ruggeri. Continuing towards the historic centre, it is possible to visit the “musicalPesaro, being the birthplace of the famous artist Gioacchino Rossini, and the “Roman” Pesaro containing archaeological remains of the famous Domus Romana in Via dell’Abbondanza. For nature lovers, it is impossible to forget the green heart of the city, Monte San Bartolo, home to majestic ancient villas.

 

URBANIA

A charming medieval town in the centre of the Metauro river valley, Urbania was considered a stronghold at the time of the Dukes of Montefeltro, thanks to its geographical position. As proof of their presence, we can admire the Ducal Palace, current seat of the Civic Art Gallery and the Civic Museum, which overlooks the river. This splendid setting can be admired from the Ponte del Riscatto (Bridge of Redemption), one of the city’s vantage points built directly by the architect Bramante.

ACQUALAGNA

Are you a lover of nature and excursions? Acqualagna is the destination for you! Near the town stands the majestic and lush Furlo Gorge reserve, crossed by the Metauro river and a favourite destination for nature lovers and for those who prefer to take a dip right near the Marmitte dei Giganti during the summer heat. For food lovers, Acqualagna is renowned as the “Capital of the White Truffle“, a product that is sponsored through fairs and events held throughout the year.

 

URBINO

ducal palace urbino

 

Capital of the Duchy of Montefeltro and of the Italian Renaissance, it is one of the few cities in the Marche region to be protected by UNESCO. Not to be missed is the Ducal Palace, home to the National Gallery of Le Marche. Here we find many of the most important works from the 14th to the 17th century, such as “The Ideal City”. It is also impossible not to marvel at the sight of the Duomo with its imposing architecture and the Raphael Monument, which originated in the city itself. Home to one of the oldest university centres, Urbino welcomes many young people from all over Italy, and is therefore characterised by a fairly lively nightlife with pubs and clubs throughout the historic centre.

 

The province of Ancona and the scent of the sea

After having explored the entire province of Pesaro Urbino, our tour continues down to the territory of Ancona. From the hinterland to the Conero coastline, we find interesting sites to visit, characterised by historical remains of the numerous peoples who have inhabited this land, but also breathtaking naturalistic views, unique in their kind. Let us therefore delve into this vast area, moving among some of the most touristy towns in the Marche.

 

SENIGALLIA

Founded by the Gallic tribe of the Senones (its current name derives from “Senna Gallica”), the city features churches in late Baroque style, including the Duomo that stands out against the vast Piazza Garibaldi, and medieval-style palaces such as the imposing Rocca Roveresca where history and art lovers will find everything they need. Also known as the “city of the velvet beach” and of the “Rotonda a Mare” (a characteristic building that stands directly on the beach), Senigallia offers plenty of nightlife thanks to its countless avant-garde clubs.

 

JESI

Also called “Città Regia” (Royal City) because it was the birthplace of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, the city was inhabited during the Roman, Medieval and Renaissance eras, thus creating a vast and assorted local historical heritage. Most places of interest are located at the Piazza di Federico II, characterised by an imposing obelisk in the centre and surrounded by majestic palaces such as Palazzo Ripanti. Jesi is also renowned for its importance in the world of music, having been the birthplace of the famous composer Giovanni Pergolesi, to whom the theatre is dedicated.

 

GENGA

This small medieval town owes its fame above all to the Frasassi Caves. In this cave system, it is possible to visit historical places of worship such as the temple of Valadier, which stands inside a large cave. But it is also possible to go inside the mountain for a visit inside the caves themselves.

 

FABRIANO

Renowned for its papermaking all over the world, the beauty of this town is also protected as a UNESCO heritage site. The entire history of the town is expressed through the Piazza del Comune, where the most important buildings in Gothic style are located, such as the Palazzo del Comune and its Clock Tower. Fabriano’s great vein of craftsmanship is reflected by visiting the Paper and Watermark Museum, where it is possible to admire the entire history of this great tradition.

 

ANCONA

It overlooks the Adriatic Sea and is the central hub of regional tourism. The city is rich in art and history thanks to the presence of museums, including the Marche Archaeological Museum and the “Francesco PodestiCivic Art Gallery, but it is also a hub for young people. The beauty of the city can be admired by descending the cliff thanks to the “Passettostaircase, from where you can directly access the typical rocky coastline.

 

SIROLO

sirolo
Pixabay – Cnippato

 

It feels like being in the Maldives… But we are still in Le Marche! The jewel among the seaside towns of the Marche, the centre of Sirolo encapsulates all the magic of the Conero Riviera. Its historic centre, full of small restaurants and panoramic views, looks directly onto the promontory with its crystal-clear waters. It is impossible not to go down to the most famous beaches, including the Due Sorelle beach, to admire the beauty of nature during a relaxing day.

 

OFFAGNA

offagna
Flickr, Gianfranco Petraccini

 

To best conclude our tour in the magical world of Ancona, we now find ourselves in the silent medieval village of Offagna. Home to many mediaeval-themed events, it is possible to penetrate the historic centre by following the route of Via dei Tornei and admire alleys and ancient views including the imposing 15th-century Rocca and the Torrione.

 

The Macerata area: land of poets and ancient crafts

One of the peculiarities of this region is the great variety of dialects, which interchange directly from one town to another (even a few kilometres apart). Moving a little further south from Ancona, the typical “Ancunetano” accent is transformed, becoming much more rustic, a symbol of an ancient rural tradition. Here is the proof that we are in the province of Macerata, rich in vast landscapes stretching from the border with Umbria to the coast.

 

TOLENTINO

Passing from the far west of the province, we find the vast city of “Tulendi”. Renowned as a pilgrimage destination, it is the birthplace of St Nicholas and the Basilica was erected in his honour. Rarely beautiful, it encloses the “Cappellone”, which has the largest series of frescoes in the entire region. A few kilometres from the town we also find the Castello della Rancia. It is a medieval complex erected by Cistercian monks that houses the Civic Archaeological Museum, which contains Roman and Picene remains.

 

LORETO

basilica di loreto
Pixabay – cretulaurentiu

 

Speaking of religious destinations, it is impossible not to mention Loreto, the most important city in the Marche region. For the most faithful, in fact, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Loreto, a Gothic-style church, houses the earthly home of the Virgin Mary, the Holy House of Nazareth. This complex not only contains frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin, but also the iconic statue of the “Black Madonna”, the patron saint of all travellers.

 

RECANATI

Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the city in the Marche most mentioned in school books, having been the birthplace of the famous poet Giacomo Leopardi. Wandering around the historical centre, you can find monuments and memories dedicated to his figure, starting from Piazza Giacomo Leopardi where you can admire the Torre del Borgo, built as a symbol of the union of several castles in the present-day municipality of Recanati. The most important attraction remains Casa Leopardi, the place where the young poet lived his youth, overlooking the Piazzola del Sabato del Villaggio, made famous by the poem of the same name. Last but not least, we find the Giacomo Leopardi Literary Park. It is home to the Colle dell’Infinito (Hill of Infinity), the highest point of Mount Tabor where an immense panorama opens up that stimulated the artist’s imagination.

 

MACERATA

The nerve centre of the province is famous for its sumptuous historic centre. In it we find the Sferisterio Arena, venue for concerts and shows, Palazzo Buonaccorsi where we can find a collection of ancient and modern art, and the Civic Tower with an astronomical clock similar to the one in St Mark’s Square in Venice.

 

CIVITANOVA MARCHE

A maritime city with ancient roots, nowadays it is considered one of the cities in Le Marche with the greatest variety of night events. Full of tourists and locals throughout the year, it is a favourite destination for those who want to spend an elegant and goliardic evening amidst the countless seaside nightclubs, famous for their glitz and design.

 

The latest arrival: journey to the province of Fermo

A middle ground between the sea and the mountains, the young province of Fermo (founded in 2004) preserves enchanting landscapes, which mingle with the spring yellow of the fields that stretch across its hills. The remains of Roman colonisation are evident throughout the territory, transforming the province into a veritable open-air museum. I will suggest some of the most important towns to visit, to best enjoy your trip to the Fermo area!

 

FERMO

duomo fermo
Pixabay – valtercirillo – Duomo di Fermo

 

This municipality is one of the most important cities in Le Marche region to visit, thanks to the many historical influences on its architecture. In the renowned historic centre, you can immerse yourself in the Renaissance culture of Piazza del Popolo and the Romanesque culture through the Roman Cisterns, which can still be visited today. Not to be missed is the monumental Duomo, characterised by a majestic façade in Roman-Gothic style.

 

CAMPOFILONE

marche in italy

 

For the most discerning palates, it is impossible to miss a tasting of the famous maccheroncini di Campofilone. This very thin egg pasta, served in white or with a red meat sauce, is offered in the town’s restaurants, paired with a good glass of wine and a breathtaking view on one of its panoramic terraces.

 

PORTO SANT’ELPIDIO/ PORTO SAN GIORGIO

These two neighbouring seaside municipalities represent the hub of territorial nightlife, thanks to the presence of numerous clubs and bathing establishments active both in summer and winter. The alternation of sandy and pebbly beaches along the entire coastline allows tourists a gentle moment of relaxation lulled by the waves of the sea.

 

Discovering the Picenes and olives all’ascolana

olive ascolane
Flickr, Frank Abbate

 

The end of our journey in Le Marche brings us to the land of Ascoli Piceno, rich in history and culture. Significant was the presence of the ancient Picenes, an indigenous population whose history began in the Iron Age and is witnessed through various sites of interest scattered throughout the territory. What to visit in Ascoli Piceno? Here is a list of the most important towns, without forgetting that we are in the land of the Oliva Ascolana PGI!

 

ASCOLI PICENO

This city is the most important town in the area and represents the nerve centre of the territory, thanks to its countless attractions. Starting from the famous Piazza del Popolo, adorned with loggias and Renaissance churches, it is possible to taste typical local dishes such as the Oliva Ascolana PGI and the liqueur drink Meletti in the famous Caffè Meletti. In the Marche region, Ascoli is the city with the most historical traces of the ancient Picenes, thanks to the presence of the National Archaeological Museum where numerous historical records of this ancient population reside.

 

SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO

Famous for its waterfront and its Venice Beach-style palm trees, San Benedetto encapsulates the beauty of a port city where innovation and new trends mingle with ancient seafaring traditions. For a full day of relaxation, we recommend a stroll around the port area in the afternoon, to enjoy the sunset on the seafront, and then having fun in the evening in one of the countless nightclubs.

 

OFFIDA

offida
Flickr, William Calvaresi – Offida

 

This small village is the jewel in the crown of the area’s medieval history. It is renowned for its Carnival and the production of fine wines attracts numerous tourists every year. In the evocative Piazza del Popolo stands the 14th-century tower of the Palazzo Comunale and the Collegiate Church, where a reconstruction of the Grotto of Lourdes resides.

This brings us to the end of this tour of the most evocative towns in Le Marche! I hope I have amazed you with the beauty of the region through this tour from North to South, visiting every meander of this land. So are you ready to enjoy this fantastic adventure first-hand?

Get in touch with one of Italia Delight’s Local Experts, who will be able to advise you on the best trip for you, based on your preferences! 🧳😉

 

About Author

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Davide Summo
Ciao, mi chiamo Davide, un marchigiano purosangue neolaureato in Scienza dell'alimentazione presso l'Università degli studi di Firenze. Nessun amore è più sincero dell'amore per il cibo e il mio è smisurato e dalle mille sfaccettature, per cui voglio raccontarvelo attraverso un viaggio fatto di cultura, tradizioni e sapori.

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