Introducing Le Marche
Le Marche is Italy in microcosm: from the beachside resorts along the Adriatic through sloped hill towns in the centre and the jagged mountain range of Monti Sibillini. You'll want to pick and choose carefully, however. While Monte Conero offers an unhurried coastal holiday and Pesaro teems with history (and, from June to September, holidaymakers), much of Le Marche's coast is lined with rows of rather depressing high-rise hotels and apartment buildings, which in turn give way to the industrial functionalism of Ancona, the region's major ferry port.
It's further inland where Le Marche really shines. Urbino, perhaps Le Marche's most famous town to outsiders, boasts an impressive display of Renaissance art and history up and down its vertical streets. Ascoli Piceno is filled with a history rivalling any Italian city but remains relatively undiscovered. Equally walkable is the quaint Macerata, with a famous open-air opera theatre and festival. Covering its western reaches, and bleeding over into neighbouring Umbria, is the region's greatest natural wonder: the stunning peaks of the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini.