A tour in the central Marche packed with incident from the birthplace of Italy's greatest Romantic poet to one of the world's most
important shrines to the Virgin Mary. This is a route to dawdle along; you might prefer to try it in sections. As well as the famous shrine at Loreto there are also a pair of lesser known holy places
and some outstanding ancient hill towns in idyllic settings.
We start at the noble university town of Camerino from where we head north-east to Tolentino, an attractive old town and the first of our holy places, this time dedicated to St Nicholas of Tolentino. From here drive on to
the provincial capital at Macerata to stop for at least half a day.
Now head north-east towards the sea to visit atmospheric Recanati, birthplace of
the great lyric poet Leopardi. Continuing on towards the blue Adriatic, you will soon see the great domed basilica of Loreto, second only to
Lourdes as a shrine to the Madonna. You can now either drop down to the coast for a fish lunch or head north-west to visit "accordion city" - Castelfidardo.
A short distance further on is Osimo, worth a leisurely stop. Here, too, is another
shrine, this time to the miracle-working St Joseph of Copertino. For his skills at moving mysteriously from one place to another he is invoked as a patron saint of flying by American pilots.
Although it is now a rather long cross country drive (but through pleasing countryside), it is worth heading south-west to
the imposing hill town of Cingoli, known as the balcony of the Marche for its breathtaking views.