Le Marche. An uncommon itinerary to discover this unspoiled region.
An itinerary that begins at one of the largest sanctuaries in Europe and ends on the top of the Sibillini Mountains through breathtaking panoramas, gentle hills crossed by vineyards and suggestive cities, between literature, history and legends, in the heart of the Marche
To explore the Marche hinterland Loreto is an excellent starting point. According to legend, on a night in 1296 a group of angels deposited the house of Nazareth on this hill where the Madonna was born. The huge sanctuary was built around the tiny mud brick building, which is now one of the most visited by pilgrims from around the world.
After exploring every corner of the basilica and its museums, move slightly and head to Recanati. Here was born and lived the greatest Italian poet of the nineteenth century, Giacomo Leopardi. Lose yourself in the elegant streets of the village in the shadow of the tower of the solitary Sparrow, linger in front of the hedge that inspired the Infinite and browse through the rooms of the library where the poet spent his childhood.
Once you have finished fantasizing about verses and landscapes, you can slide to the fantastic promontory of Monte Conero, a huge white rock overlooking the sea, covered with luxuriant vegetation (it is a Natural Park) dotted with seaside villages and pristine rocky beaches .
It’s time to head to Macerata, which in addition to being one of the most interesting cities in the region, is also an excellent base for discovering the surrounding area. Step foot inside the sixteenth-century walls, so climb at random along its narrow streets and you will immediately understand its charm. But it has a problem, or maybe two: it goes through being sleepy on the edge of boredom and believes it‘s still, and only, a provincial town. And instead it is just the opposite. It’ss a city so lively and stimulating to have all the credentials to play it with the most popular and renowned cities. Its museums are a joy, the churches a continuous discovery, the noble palaces a dive into history. In the squares – populated every hour by swarms of university students – there are dozens of clubs, the alleys are full of restaurants and bistros, there are avant-garde cinemas and theaters. And then there is that wonder that is the Sferisterio, a neoclassical arch-shaped stadium, transformed into a temple of opera.
Leaving Macerata behind, immerse yourself in a hilly landscape dominated by the yellow of sunflowers, you will meet Treia, where for centuries the medieval game with a bracelet has been played. Therefore it is quite likely that during your visit to the city you will come across two challengers intent on training in view of the Disfida, the most important event in town.
Few kilometers away is Tolentino, which has maintained the liveliness and industriousness that has always distinguished it and continues to be an unmissable stop for lovers of history and art. It was here, in fact, that Napoleon signed peace with the Papal States (in 1797, when he took over Northern Italy) and that Joachim Murat lost the throne of Naples at the hands of the Austrians; and it is also here that an astonishing work of 14th century sacred painting is found: the Giotto’s frescoes in the Cappellone di San Nicola.
As you approach Fiastra, where the heavenly Lake of Fiastra is located, you will see the landscape change: you are entering the Sibillini. A natural border between the Marche and Umbria, the Sibillini mountain range is an unspoiled paradise that develops along the provinces of Macerata, Fermo and Ascoli Piceno. Its rugged peaks (Monte Vettore is the highest and reaches 2476 m), the dense woods, lakes and streams that cross it are cloaked in mystery and inhabited by wolves, eagles and roe deer. This delicate ecosystem has been protected since 1993 by the National Park, within which 16 villages full of charm and full of history fall. Explore them calmly and, despite the 2016 earthquake devastating Visso and Pievebovigliana, and leaving behind a long trail of destruction, you will discover one of the most genuine corners of this region.
Stop in Sarnano if you love outdoor activities, continue to Amandola for another little medieval atmosphere and head to Montefortino, which hides a sublime art heritage in the cobbled alleys. Finally, between Montemonaco and Montegallo be ready to hear strange stories about knights, fairies and sibyls. To stay in the mood, climb to the top of Monte Vettore, a step away from heaven, and mirror yourself in Lago di Pilato.