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Marche Voyager  Marche Micro Guide | Small but perfect

Places

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A page of alphabetical listings of some splendid if lesser-known corners of the region. Click on the place below to whizz down the page to the short entries.

The Menu:

Acqualagna

Montefiore dell'Aso

Apiro

Montefortino

Arquata del Tronto

Montegrimano

Cantiano

Montelupone

Cartoceto

Monterubbiano

Chiaravalle

Monte San Giusto

Corridonia

Morro d'Alba

Cupramontana

Offagna

Falerone

Ostra

Frontone

Pietrarubbia

Macerata Feltria

Pievebovigliana

Maiolati Spontini

Pollenza

Massa Fermana

Sant'Elpidio a Mare

Massignano

Santa Maria a Pič di Chienti

Mogliano

Santa Vittoria in Matenano

Montalto delle Marche

Serra de' Conti

Montecassiano

Serrapetrona

Montecarotto

Servigliano

Montedinove

Staffolo

Montefano

Urbisaglia


The Entries:

Acqualagna
This modest, modern town lies near the entrance to the Furlo Gorge and hosts the annual National Truffle Fair (for details see events) in late Autumn. Apart from the nearby gorge and the splendid abbey of San Vincenzo, the shrine to the Madonna at the Sanctuary of Pelingo is much visited by devout pilgrims. Visit the town's own web site here (currently only in Italian).

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Apiro
This handsome place 500 metres up has a splendid backdrop of the solitary peak of Monte San Vicino and an honest old centre with a fine tower and pretty church in its tight main square.
[Central: 10km W of Cingoli ; 25km SW of Jesi].

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Arquata del Tronto
Sadly this village was badly damaged in the 2016 earthquake and it will be a few years before it gets back on its feet.

Heading along the via Salaria from Ascoli Piceno towards Rome the distant outline of Arquata del Tronto is unmistakable against the heady backdrop of Monte Vettore. Towering above the old town is the high keep of the 13th century Rocca, or fortress, that once guarded the important road below.

Stop here to explore the lanes of the old town and search out the impressive Torre Civica, or civic tower, and the churches of the Annunziata and San Pietro.
[South : 30km W of Ascoli Piceno]

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Cantiano
A good example of an Apennine mountain town, with hard-faced medieval stone houses and an airy main square.

It is also known for its horse breeding, and horse meat (carne di cavallo) often features on the menu. The old craft of charcoal burning still takes place in the beech woods that clothe the surrounding slopes.
[North : 10 km W of Cagli]

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Cartoceto
Apart from the pretty walled village, the main reason to come here is gastronomic. The area produces some of the Marche region's finest olive oil as well as formaggio di fossa, a cheese that is closed up in underground caves to mature.
[North : 10km W of Fano]

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Chiaravalle
This busy town has one good reason for you to stop - to see the Abbey of Santa Maria in Castagnola, often known simply as the Abbey of Chiaravalle. Founded in 1126, it is one of only three monasteries founded in Italy by the Cistercian monks of Clairvaux from France. An outstanding and rare example of ecclesiastical Gothic architecture in the region, it has a singularly striking facade.
[Central : 10km W of Ancona]

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Corridonia
Here you'll find Carlo Crivelli's masterpiece Madonna with Suckling Child in the discreet Pinacoteca, next to the Church of S. Pietro e Paolo (half way up via Cavour).

You won't fail also to miss the town's most conspicuous sight. The vast monument to Filippo Corridoni at the top of the town was built in the 1930's to honour a local First World War hero; the town, previously known as Pausola, was renamed Corridonia at the same time.

The white Roman travertine stone hardly blends with the warm brick of the surrounding buildings but the monument undoubtedly stands as a striking example of the architecture of the period.
[Central : 10km SE of Macerata]

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Cupramontana
This thriving market town stands in typical gently-rolling Marche landscape amidst Verdicchio vineyards and is one of the most important centres for wine production.
[Central : 15km SW of Jesi]

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Falerone
Below this medieval village, in the heart of the southern Marche, lies the ancient settlement of Falerio Picenus, established by the Romans in 29 BC.

Most of the finest archaeological treasures unearthed here ended up in the Louvre and the Vatican museums but several villas and baths, as well as a well-restored amphitheatre (follow the signs), are well worth a visit.
[South : 20km W of Fermo]

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Frontone
Above the modern village stands a steep hill with just enough room on top for an imposing castle and medieval borghetto. As the last of a string of natural defences running from the sea to the impregnable Apennines, it has been fortified since the pre-Roman days when the area was garrisoned by the Eugubine tribes from Gubbio.

The well-restored rocca later helped to defend the southern border of the Duke of Montefeltro's lands and some consider the triangular tower at the western end to be the work of Duke Federico's favourite architect, Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

This windswept look-out (note the size of the rocks on the roofs to stop the tiles blowing away) gives a splendid view across to the majestic peaks of Mts. Catria (1,700 metres) and Acuto (1,527 metres).
[North : 10km SE of Cagli ; 10km SW of Pergola]

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Maiolati Spontini
This small aristocratic village was the home of the composer Gasparo Spontini (1774-1851). He is buried in the church of San Giovanni, under an august neo-classical monument carved by the great Canova.

The small Spontini museum, opposite the church in the house where he died, contains a collection of his manuscripts and possessions. The village also boasts balcony views over the valley below.
[Central : 15km W of Jesi]

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Macerata Feltria
A distinguished little town dating back to the 3rd Century, when the Romans called it Pitinum Pisaurense. Many remnants of its past, including a stretch of Roman road, can still be seen in nearby archaeological excavations and in the town's fascinating museum. The Palazzo del Podestā and the parish church date from the reconstruction of the town in the Middle Ages. By the 15th century it had become one of the more prosperous towns in the area and many elegant 17th and 18th century family palazzi bear witness to its continued wealth.

The town's thermal baths can trace their history back to Roman times and are much favoured for their sulphur-rich waters.
[30km N of Urbino ; 20km SE of San Leo]

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Massa Fermana
This simple hill village hides one great artistic treasure. Passing through the beautiful medieval gateway, flanked by a pair of porticoed buildings, we find the Church of San Lorenzo, half way down the main street. It boasts Carlo Crivelli's earliest piece in the Marche, a magnificent work on panels of the Madonna and Child Enthroned (1468). Ask at the municipio, or town hall, for access to the church if it's closed.
[South : 30km W of Fermo ; 30km S of Macerata]

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Massignano
Search out the church of San Giacomo Maggiore to find a charming painting of the Virgin Mary by Carlo Crivelli's brother Vittore
[South : 15km NW of San Benedetto del Tronto ; 25 km S of Fermo]

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Mogliano
This unassuming town strings together a series of small, red-brick piazzas. It has one star attraction - search out Lorenzo Lotto's magnificent painting of the Assumption (1548) in the church of Santa Maria Assunta. The Venetian master had been working in the Marche for around ten years before being commissioned to paint this haunting work.
[South : 25km W of Fermo ; 25km S of Macerata]

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Montalto delle Marche
When Cardinal Montalto, a farmer's son from the nearby coastal town of Grottamare, became Pope Sixtus V in 1585, he decided to elevate this tiny village where he trained as a priest to the status of Episcopal See, building a cathedral and palace which entirely upstage the little medieval hamlet above it. Work proceeded quickly but within barely five years Pope Montalto, as he was nicknamed, was dead.
[South : 35km N of Ascoli Piceno]

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Montecassiano
This pretty hill town, just north of Macerata, has a particularly attractive small piazza. Overlooking it, the solid 15th century Palazzo Comunale, built over a shady portico, has three beautiful bottle-glazed windows. Steps lead through an archway to one side, up to the parish church, topped by a stubby spire. Inside the sober Gothic brick interior, there is refreshingly un-restored terracotta altarpiece by Mattia Della Robbia (1527), a lesser-known member of the famous Florentine artistic family.
[Central : 10km N of Macerata]

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Montecarotto
The heart of this compact little town is at the bottom of the hill in Piazza della Vittoria. Here two fairy-tale towers, all that is left of a medieval castle, greet you as you drive in.
[Central : 15km W of Jesi]

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Montedinove
This pretty village has a delightful tiny piazza looking out over the Marche countryside and a church which houses relics of Saint Thomas ā Becket. He was Archbishop of Canterbury until his murder in 1170 on the orders of Henry II and his shrine in Canterbury Cathedral became a place of pilgrimage for almost 400 years until the persecutions of Henry VIII. English Catholics, fearful of its desecration, brought his body to Europe. Relics from it now lie in a gilded glass cask in the ornate church of San Tommaso.
[South : 35km N of Ascoli Piceno]

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Montefano
Just outside this pretty town stands the Castello di Montefiore. Built in the 14th century, it was later so well adapted to artillery defence that it remained intact through the centuries and it was the only the bombs of the Second World War which succeeded in damaging it. Since then, however, it has been sensitively restored and has a dramatic gateway and ramp which take you up to the castle keep.
[Central : 10km W of Recanati ; 15km SW of Osimo]

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Montefiore dell'Aso
Parts of the collegiate church of Santa Lucia, in Piazza della Repubblica date back to the Romanesque period. The town also has a remarkable series of six painted panels by Carlo Crivelli. The finest of these, depicting Saint Mary Magdalene, is reckoned to be among the artist's most beautiful figures. You'll find them in the Polo Museale beside the Church of San Francesco.
[South : 20km NW of San Benedetto del Tronto ; 20 km S of Fermo]

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Montefortino
This awesome mountain stronghold stands in the very shadow of Monte Sibilla (2175m), the central peak of the Sibillini Mountains. Park just below the village to wander around its picturesque narrow streets. The Palazzo Municipale houses the charming small Fortunato Duranti collection of 15th and 16th century paintings donated by a local artist during the last century (open weekday mornings from 1000-1300hrs).

Just after the village, a twelve kilometre detour to the left leads along the beautiful valley of the River Ambro to the 17th century Sanctuary of the Madonna dell'Ambro. This has been a place of pilgrimage since 1073, when a mute shepherdess saw an apparition of the Madonna.

Another 15km dead-end detour takes you to the Gola dell'Infernaccio, an awe-inspiring gorge carved through the rock by the river Tenna.
[South : 6km S of Amandola]

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Montegrimano
A pretty spa town lying on the slopes of Monte San Paolo, in the hilly northern reaches of the Marche. Its picturesque centre, with narrow alleys and medieval houses, is still partially surrounded by a stretch of medieval wall. Part of the castle, with its massive 15th century bell tower have also survived.

The village boasts a modern spa and beauty centre, thanks to the curative qualities of its sulphurous waters which are rich in sodium bromide and iodine.
[30km N of Urbino ; 25km E of San Leo]

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Montelupone
The road pierces well-preserved walls, complete with their observation towers, through Porta del Cassero (cassero means castle keep, the remains of which can be seen in the public garden just to the left).

The central Piazza del Comune is overshadowed by the tall tower of the Palazzo del Podestā with its striking battlements.
[Central : 12km NE of Macerata]

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Monterubbiano
The origins of this delightful hill town can be traced back to the 3rd century BC. The small archaeological museum in the town hall in the main square has a collection of the most interesting finds. All of the town's ten churches date back to the medieval period. Don't miss the town's pretty little sister, Moresco, with intact medieval walls, laid out in oval form and dominated by a tall 12th century seven-sided tower and fine 14th century clock tower.
[South : 15km S of Fermo]

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Monte San Giusto
For art lovers, this simple hill town holds one outstanding treasure. First of all, park your car outside the town walls - like every other medieval town in the Marche, it was never built with the motor car in mind. Once inside, search out the Church of Santa Maria in Telusiano, a few metres from the pretty central piazza to see one of Lorenzo Lotto's great masterpieces, a Crucifixion, painted in 1531 when the Venetian master was at the height of his career.
[Central : 20km SE of Macerata]

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Morro D'Alba
The pleasing old part of this rocky village is embraced by an escarpment wall dating back to the second half of the15th century. Atop these walls runs a remarkable walkway pierced by porticoes that offers ever-changing views of the delightful countryside around.

There is another excellent reason to stop here - to try the celebrated local red wine, Lacrima di Morro d'Alba, a heady garnet brew with an elegant finish, definitely a cut above a mere country wine.
[Central : 10km N of Jesi]

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Offagna
This charming small town is dominated by the solid tower of its picturesque 15th century rocca, or castle. Just below, the Palazzo Municipale , adorned with noble coats of arms, adds to the attractions of the place.
[Central : 15km SW of Ancona]

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Ostra
This imposing walled town is strung out along a ridge overlooking the valley. Its old centre, topped by the noble Torre Civica and Piazza dei Martiri, its red-brick main square, has plenty of attractive details to amuse the eye. Look out for the prosperous looking 18th century palazzi along the main Corso Mazzini.
[Central : 15km SW of Senigallia]

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Pietrarubbia
The fortunes of this pretty mountain village, set among rocky outcrops in the region's north west corner, have undergone a recent revival with the arrival of a community of sculptors - "Il Centro per il Trattament Artistico dei Metalli (TAM)" - headed by the renowned sculptor Arnaldo Pomodori. Their work can be seen in various churches and public places throughout the village.

The monastery at Ponte Cappuccini records visits by Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Joseph of Copertino (as well as a much later visit by Garibaldi). The surrounding woodland park is now part of the Sasso Simone Regional Park.
(45km NW of Urbino ; 65km NW of Pesaro)

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Pievebovigliana
Stop here to admire the fine Romanesque parish church of Santa Maria Assunta. It sits on a hillock, at the centre of the original settlement and above the more recent village. Inside the perfectly preserved 12th century Romanesque exterior, one eighteenth century priest decided to give the place an up-to-date neo-classical refit. Fortunately, he didn't get as far as the beautiful crypt. Like many early churches, it was built using materials from ancient Roman times. The vaulted roof is supported by Roman pillars and a doorway has been blocked up with a stone tablet from the 2nd Century.
[Central : 15km S of Camerino]

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Pollenza
Within its brick ramparts, the single main street, via Roma, strings together three intimate piazzas. The town is famed for antique furniture restoration and, as well as many workshops outside the walls, there are several shops here to browse around. At the far end of the town, the sumptuous Church of San Biagio, decked out in perfect neo-classical style, seems almost too grand for a place as unassuming as this. The town's other claim to fame is the Marche's only bust to the composer Verdi, which stands outside the theatre in Piazza della Libertā.
[Central : 10km W of Macerata ; 10km NE of Tolentino]

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Sant'Elpidio a Mare
Despite its name, this worthy medieval town is not by the sea, but overlooks it from the safety of a hilltop stronghold. Through the Porta Marina and into the central Piazza Matteotti, we find the mighty Torre dei Cavalieri Gerosolimitani, together with two churches and the Town Hall, housing the municipal art gallery with its magnificent 18-panel painting by Vittore Crivelli.
[Central : 15km N of Fermo]

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Santa Maria a Pič di Chienti
This small but perfectly formed 9th Century double-decker church in the Chienti valley, just below Montecosaro, is surely the region's finest piece of Romanesque architecture. Its upper floor is built within the church at the far end of the high central nave. The 14th Century frescoes in the apse above the upper altar are all the more powerful in their striking contrast with the remainder of the simple brick interior. Note also the three side chapels built into the semi-circular apse of the lower church which are among the few surviving examples of their kind in Italy.

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Santa Vittoria in Matenano
A quite road snakes through some of the southern Marche's gentlest and most appealing countryside to this simple unassuming hill town. It is named after the Roman martyr whose body was brought here by monks in 930. Her magnificent marble sarcophagus, supported on two pillars, stands in the crypt of the parish church, at the far end of the town.
[South : 30km SW of Fermo ; 20km E of Amandola]

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Serra de' Conti
This compact town, built on high walls which surround elegant lofty palazzi, is one of the most charming towns in the central Marche. Search out intimate Piazza Leopardi, overlooked by a fine octagonal tower, then wander the narrow streets and hidden corners of this opulent small place.
[Central : 20km W of Jesi]

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Serrapetrona
A visit to this pretty small town has a special bonus - an opportunity to taste the sparkling red Vernaccia di Serrapetrona. This is normally a sweet dessert wine but it is also produced in a drier secco version.
[Central : 10km SW of Tolentino]

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Servigliano
This text book example of 18th century urban planning, laid out on a perfectly square plan, feels like a little corner of someone's private vision of Utopia, with every building set in perfect symmetry.
[South: 20km SW of Fermo ; 20km NE of Amandola]

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Staffolo
This sturdy fortified medieval town stands among olive groves and vineyards and commands fine views out over the hills and mountains of the central Marche. Large stretches of the intact walls now have houses built on top - a miniature version of the great walls of Jesi.

During the second week of August the town gives itself over to the Festa del Verdicchio, a colourful festival dedicated to the local incarnation of Bacchus.
[Central : 15km N of Cingoli : 20km SW of Jesi]

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Urbisaglia
Near to this small village lie the remains of Urbs Salvia. The city was founded in the 1st century BC and, like so many of the Marche's Roman towns, wiped out by Alaric in 408. For once this is an archaeological site with things you can actually see - the amphitheatre, built in the 2nd century AD, is one of the region's most conspicuous Roman ruins.
[Central : 15km SW of Macerata]

 


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