Characterised by undulating countryside and peppered with barely "discovered" medievaltowns and villages, Le Marche forms a narrow and little travelled band between the Appennini and the Adriatic Sea. Now that Toscana has outpriced itself and Umbria is well on the road to doing the same, Le Marche is becoming increasingly popular with Italians and foreigners intent on buving old farm houses for rnovation.
Most visitors come for the Renaissance splendour of Urbino, or to catch a ferry from Ancona, but the rest of the region deserves at least a few days exploration. In the south-west, the treeless Monti Sibillini form an impressive and, in parts, forbidding stretch of the Appennini, with plenty to keep even the most die-hard walker busy for days. Le Marche attracted great Renaissance architects and painters, and Urbino gave the world the genius of Raphael and Donato Bramante. Local cuisine draws inspiration from two sources. Inland mountain dishes comprise fish, beef, lamb, mushrooms and truffles, while on the coast, sole and prawns resembling lobsters are popular. Olive Ascolane (olives stuffed with meat and herbs) and brodetto (fish soup made in several versions up and down the coast) Vincisgrassi( a rich lasagne with meat sauce). The region is a small wine producer, with one of the best drops being the Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, a sparkling red.
Most visitors to Ancona go there only in order to head off elsewhere, namely by ferry to Greece, Turkey or the former Yugoslavia. Ancona remains the mid Adriatic's largest port, doing a healthy business in tourists as well as road freight. The old centre was heavily bombed in WWI, but it still has a few faded gems to offer the listless voyager waiting for a boat.
City: Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Macerata, Pesaro e Urbino
Surface kmq 9693
National Parks Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini (1990).