Da Non Perdere ~ Not to be Missed
In addition to the festivals and events celebrated in Le Marche from Spring-Autumn, here are some places to see and things to do that are open year-round and are not to be missed!
Archeological Park of Urbs Salvia - First-century Roman ruins that were preserved by a landslide are now excavated and scattered among the 40 hectare archeological park. The upper part in Urbisaglia includes the serbatoio dell’acquedotto, within the city walls, where you can see how the Romans engineered a safe water supply. The path across the street leads down to the theater, the amphitheater, and the temple (with first-century frescoes). In summer, they often stage performances at the amphitheater, and hold events for children. Check the sites below for schedules and ticketing.
http://www.meridianasrl.it for tours of the Parco Archeologico di Urbs Salvia
La Rocca is a 12–15th century castle in Urbisaglia’s Piazza Garibaldi. Its unusual shape was designed to not only protect from outside attacks but also to repress internal rebellion from the resentful citizens of Urbisaglia who wanted autonomy. It has amazing views of the countryside from its four towers.
The Abbadia di Fiastra was founded in 1142 and it is one of the best-preserved Cistercian abbeys in Italy. The monks drained the marshy land, grew grapes for wines and established a still-flourishing farmland. The monastery and its museums are currently closed due to the earthquake, but the Abbey church is still open. The lovely 4,448-acre nature reserve has free parking and entry. The nature trail “La Selva” is a woodland area and is the last example of the historical forests that once covered Le Marche. It’s a peaceful, shady, and picturesque place to go for a walk. Several bars and restaurants offer snacks, meals, and drinks. http://abbadiafiastra.net/en/
The Sibillini Mountains have attracted visitors for centuries. Le Marche’s southwestern border range was long known as a land of fairies, mystics, and the eponymous prophetess Sibyl, who lived in a cave near the summit of Mount Sibilla. Now a 70,000 hectare National Park, the Sibillini are still suggestive and only a 30 minute drive from Casa Pace e Gioia! You can drive around the park and get out and hike when you want, or you can organize longer hikes or biking trails to see monasteries, churches, ruins, valleys, plains, cliffs, wildflowers, birds, and mammals that all seem to hide within the park.
In the summer, shaded paths and elevation provide cooling relief. Guided excursions and events are held often and include: yoga, photography treks, full moon evening hikes, birdwatching, and rock climbing. Lake Fiastra has water activities, rentals, and food for an enjoyable day by the lake. Winters bring skiing and shoe-shoeing. http://www.sibillini.net/index.php
Civitanova Marche’s beaches There’s nothing more quintessential “Italian summer” than relaxing under an umbrella on a lounge chair on a beach. Both Civitanova’s Lungomare Nord and the Lungomare Sud beaches have “Blue Flag” status for their water quality and adherence to environmental standards. Many beach resorts offer umbrella and chair rentals with bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, a bar and a restaurant.
Wander medieval walled towns Sarnano, named one of the most beautiful towns in Italy, is a picturesque brick village built in concentric circles to the top of a steep hill. It is a delight to explore, especially on Thurdays when the market is set up in the main piazza below the old town. San Ginesio, visible from Casa Pace e Gioia, is another borghi più belli and retains its 13th century city gates and walls. Ripe San Ginesio is a tiny jewel of a town decorated with public art. In Loro Piceno a peaceful park and walkways around a castle offer incredible panoramas of the Fiastra Valley. Tolentino is famed for its Basilica di San Nicola with the shrine of San Nicola, and its unusual clocktower.
Macerata, a lively university town is home to the world’s smallest basilica, many museums, and the stunning Sferisterio, an arena that now hosts concerts year-round and a popular Opera festival every summer. Macerata has a large market on Wednesdays, many shops, and good restaurants.
Serrapetrona is a pretty medieval village built around an intact 11th century castle. The Chiesa di San Francesco has some notable artworks, but most people come to Serrapetrona for its Vernaccia di Serrapetrona wine, a rare bubbly red made with the indigenous Vernaccia Nera grape, and awarded Italy’s highest quality designation, DOCG. Vernaccia di Serrapetrona is grown on only 66 hectares around Serrapetrona. Visit producers in the area and explore the town after lunch. http://tuttoserrapetrona.it
Le Grotte di Frasassi - Part of the largest cave system in Europe, and one of the largest in the world, a group of speleologists from Ancona discovered the Great Cave of the Wind and the Ancona Abyss, which could contain the Duomo di Milano. The park offers 75 minute guided tours in a variety of languages. http://www.frasassi.com/Home.aspx?L=IT http://www.grottedifrasassi.net
Ascoli Piceno is a shimmering city built with travertine. The Piazza del Popolo was voted by the Marchigiani as the most beautiful piazza in Le Marche. Along it, you’ll find the Art-Nouveau Caffè Meletti, with tempting pastries, cocktails, and coffees. Their famous anise liquor is made on site. Along the piazza Arringo is the Museo Archeologico, where you can learn about that area’s early history, Picene settlements, Roman era, and Lombard influence. In July and August, Ascoli Piceno hosts its annual Giostra della Quintana, featuring 14th century reenactments, jousting tournaments, and a palio, (horse race) in which each of the city’s six districts compete. https://www.comune.ap.it/vivere-ascoli-piceno http://visitascoli.it
Ancona, the region’s capital, is just more than an hour’s drive from Casa Pace e Gioia. Founded and settled by Greek mariners in the 8th century BCE, Ancona thrived as a trading port city. The Romans arrived and further elevated the city’s status. For five centuries, Ancona was a powerful independent Maritime Republic until 1532 when it came under papal control until the French invaded in 1797. https://www.facebook.com/Ancona-Turismo-353869578024416/
That history lesson explains the appeal Ancona has. With remnants of Greek and Roman civilization, a variety of architectural styles, important churches and museums, notable artworks, a still-thriving port, piazze with fountains, public gardens, and pedestrian-only areas, Ancona is a must-visit.
Fabriano is one of Italy’s two UNESCO Creative Cities, awarded as such for fostering a heritage of handicrafts in the paper, leather, pottery, wool, and iron industries that date back to the 12th century. Indeed, Euro notes, among other currencies, are printed in Fabriano, a paper manufacturing center to this day. In Fabriano’s restored medieval center, you’ll find a Paper and Watermark museum, a piano museum, beautiful churches, a pharmacy museum, and an important art museum. http://fabrianoturismo.it
Jesi, pronounced “yayzee” is the birthplace of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, and has 8 libraries and many bookstores. But Jesi’s appeal reaches beyond book lovers. The area’s winemakers produce the famed Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, so you’ll drink well here. Jesi’s 14th century walls circle a an elegant historic center with Renaissance palaces, churches, and museums, including the Pinacoteca Civica, which displays several masterpieces by Lorenzo Lotto. http://www.turismojesi.it/Home.aspx?lang=it