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!
Just ten minutes from Casa Pace e Gioia, these First-century Roman ruins were preserved by a landslide and 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, which you can enter to 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. You can wander the park freely. An inexpensive ticket is required to see the amphitheater, the temple, and the serbatoio. See the tourist office in Urbisaglia for details and a map, and their Facebook page for events.
Also in Urbisaglia, La Rocca is a 12–15th century castle in 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.
A fifteen minute drive is the lovely Fiastra Abbey Natural Preserve. The abbey 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. You can visit the monastery’s cloisters, chapter house, refectory, Cellarium, wine museum, gardens, and the olive oil storeroom that now houses archeological finds from the ruins of Urbs Salvia. The 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.
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. Some of our favorite hikes include the Lame Rosse near Lake Fiastra and the Gola dell’Infernaccio.
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 snow-shoeing.
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. Civitanova is a 30 minute drive on the SS77, and the Blue-Flag beaches of Potenza Picena are 10 minutes further. Beach resorts offer umbrella and chair rentals with bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, a bar and a restaurant.
Casa Pace e Gioia is within minutes of many medieval towns that abound with charm, architecture, and history. 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.
Other nearby borghi più belli include Treia, with amazing views from its piazza; Montecassiano, a hidden gem not found in guidebooks; Montelupone, famed for its fabulous artichokes; Montecosaro, where the park has 360 degree views of the Adriatic, Monte Conero, and the Sibillini Mountains; and Servigliano, which housed a prison camp whose story is told at the memorial museum.
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 is a beautiful university town (with a lively market on Wednesdays) and is visible from Casa Pace e Gioia. Perhaps its most famous building is the large, elliptically shaped Sferisterio, which was originally an open air arena to play an old Roman ball game, then used for bullfights. Today, it hosts the Macerata Opera Festival and concerts. Also notable is the 64-meter high clock tower from which the views are outstanding. The Basilica della Misericordia is the smallest in the world, and is gorgeous inside. The Palazzo Buonaccorsi houses the Carriage Museum and the Pinacoteca art museum. A Natural History museum rounds out the cultural offerings. Guided walking tours in many languages are available.
Much of what is “Made in Italy” is made in the Marche and our area abounds with outlets that offer discounted prices on authentic, locally-made, high quality, handcrafted products. Within a 15 to 30 minute drive you can find bargains on footwear, handbags, hats, clothing, and even furniture. We have a map of recommended outlets in our house app.
Le Marche’s wines lack the fame of our neighboring regions but producers here make a variety of fantastic wines. All of our nearby winemakers are small and family owned, so you’ll have a private and personalized tasting. Whether you’d like to visit a winery independently, or take a private tour with a driver, I can help with recommendations and arrangements. Wine tastings are a good opportunity to try our local cheeses, honeys, olive oil, breads, and salumi. We can also arrange olive oil tastings, truffle hunts, cooking classes, honey tastings, cheesemaker visits, and more!
Every weekend from spring until fall it seems that at least one nearby village hosts a food festival (sagra) or celebrates a patron saint. These weekend-long parties feature live music, food stands, folklore performances, a market with local crafts, fireworks, parades, dancing, reenactments, and more!
Our immediate area in the hills is a popular cycle destination and our local communities support cycle tourism. We have several scenic cycle routes nearby, and if you did not bring your bikes, we can arrange rentals of mountain, racing, and e-bicycles. The Sibillini Mountains have an abundance of on and off-road cycle routes, including the Great Ring, with dramatic elevation changes and unforgettable scenery.
Just an hour away from Casa Pace e Gioia, Adriatic beaches beckon, tucked along the bottom of the cliffs of the Conero Mountain. Water sports like snorkeling, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddling are popular here and boat rentals provide a way to reach hidden coves not available by land, and the famous Due Sorelle beach.
The Frasassi Caves are the largest cave system in Europe. Each “room” on the 1500 meter guided path is different and an otherworldly experience with shimmering crystals, an underground lake, spires, pinnacles, rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. The largest room, the Ancona Abyss, could contain the Duomo di Milano.
Near the caves, see the nearby Temple of Valadier, an octagonal church that is built inside of a cave and is a favorite Instagram post.
Verdicchio is probably the most famous wine in the Marche, and it is made in two areas north of us. Both regions have Italy’s highest quality label, DOCG, for their riserva, which have been aged at least 18 months. The Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva DOCG is a larger production area and is influenced by the sea. The Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva DOCG is inland, in the mountain foothills. Visit producers in each region, and you can taste the difference. With a stop for lunch, it’s an easy day trip. We can recommend producers and lunch spots and make reservations.
In Loreto, the shrine of the Holy Home of Nazareth receives thousands of pilgrims every year. According to tradition, Mary was born in this house and lived in it with Jesus and Joseph. In 1291 the Crusaders were expelled from the Holy Land and they dismantled the three walls built into the Grotto of Nazareth and shipped it as part of a dowry. The acting pope had the home rebuilt in Loreto where, over the centuries, a magnificent Basilica has been built around the house. In addition to the elaborately decorated Basilica, the Museo-Pinacoteca displays paintings and artworks donated to the sanctuary.
Just ten minutes away is Recanati, the birthplace of the famous poet Giacomo Leopardi. The home he lived in houses a museum and substantial library. A garden behind the Palazzo Leopardi has splendid views and it is easy to imagine the poet’s inspiration.
Our regional capital, Ancona, has been a busy port city for centuries and its long and varied history has given the city a unique mix of architectural styles and sights to see. Trajan’s Arch was built in 115 and serves as a symbol of the city. The views from the medieval Duomo di San Ciriaco, which overlooks Ancona and the harbor, are fantastic. The graceful Monumento ai Caduti has views of the sea and stairs that lead down to the water where you can see grottoes that fisherman had carved and were originally used to store boats. Many of them are covered with colorful doors and are now used as a place to hang out. The Museo Tattile Statale Omero has copies of 150 famous sculptures that you’re invited to touch.
Torre di Palme is a medieval hamlet perched on a hill with fantastic views of the Adriatic. The charming village is well kept with harmonious brick buildings, narrow cobbled streets and flowers on balconies. Numerous bars and restaurants in the area offer panoramic dining options.
The Archeological Museum displays finds from three of ten recently excavated funeral tombs nearby. The oldest dates to the Bronze Age (9th-7th centuries BC), the others date to the 6th century BC.
The small but beautiful Church of Sant’Agostino, displays a stunning 15th century polyptych by Vittore Crivelli. Stolen in 1972, it was found a month later (missing 4 panels in the predella) and subsequently restored.
A well maintained and marked walking path from the parking area off Via Fonte di Mosè leads to the Bosco del Cugnolo, a protected woodland area with views of the sea and Torre di Palme. Continuing on the path, in addition to the flora and fauna, you can see an ancient church, a waterfall, and the legendary Lover’s Cave.
Perched on the top of a hill, Fermo has been an important city since the 9th century BC and its history is evident in the old city. The Roman Cisterns, constructed in the 1st century BC and in use until the 1980s, are the largest in Italy and a must-see: 30 rooms in 3 rows that extend 2200 square meters. On the central Piazza del Popolo, The Palazzo dei Priori, houses the Pinacoteca Civica which displays many notable pieces, including a painting by Rubens. The Sala del Mappamondo is so-named for an exquisite and large globe from 1712 displayed in a stunning library.
The Cathedral of Fermo and its bell tower soar over the city at the highest point on the hill surrounded by a public garden with incredible views. Its Istrian stone facade was finished in 1227, the interior has been rebuilt over the centuries and is a light and airy space with a variety of artworks and a crypt below.
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.
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.
The panoramic views from hilltop Cingoli are among the best in the region and give it the nickname “The Balcony of the Marche.” Cingoli’s most famous monument, the Collegiate Church of Sant’Esuperanzio, is outside the city walls. It was built in the 12th century to accommodate the tomb of Esuperantius, the patron saint of Cingoli. The magnificent Romanesque portal was carved in 1295 and the interior walls are covered with frescoes.
Inside the city walls, Cingoli’s center is calm, thanks to traffic restrictions. With many churches, Renaissance palaces, fountains, piazze, parks, and a medieval district, there’s something for everyone here. City Hall, on the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, houses the Museo Civico Archeologico, which exhibits finds from the Paleolithic to Roman eras. In the hall of the coat of arms an impressive Lorenzo Lotto painting, the Madonna del Rosario, is displayed. The Baroque Chiesa di San Domenico has several notable artworks, one of which is another Lorenzo Lotto painting, Madonna of the Rosary and Saints.